Choosing a business model for Simplify

For the long haul…

Simplify cannot continue to exist for free. Over the last two years, I have put thousands of hours into Simplify. It isn’t slowing down and doing it for free isn’t sustainable. Building and maintaining high quality modifications on top of ever-changing software requires a lot of skill and time. And I’m only interested in making Simplify if it’s high quality.

I’m committed to never earning money through ads, sponsorships, or collecting and selling any kind of data. I’ve considered things like Patreon and Github sponsors, but decided those won’t work for me either.

Charging for software ensures you aren’t the product. There’s a saying in software that if a product is free, then you are the product. That you pay with your time, attention, privacy, data, etc. Simplify exists to give back your attention, privacy, and time.

Charging for Simplify is not only a way of ensuring it continues to function, it’s also a way of raising expectations–that it’s worth paying for.

Maximize impact, not profits.

How low can we go? Capitalism says to seek the price that maximizes profits. Simplify will be priced to maximize impact instead–as low as possible to make it more affordable and still cover the bills. The more people paying, the less everyone pays and/or the more everyone gets for their money. Pricing will be updated every year.

You pick the price. Instead of a single price that you pay or don’t pay, Simplify will be priced on a sliding scale where you decide how much it is worth to you. And the default will be near the low end, so it doesn’t feel like a guilt trip if you choose a lower price. [Update: after feedback, I am removing this complexity and just picking the low end of my intended price range.]

Enterprise pricing that isn’t backwards. I’d love for entire companies to sign up for Simplify for all their employees. But I hate how a lot of enterprise software gets more expensive per person the more people being covered. Simplify will do the opposite: the more people covered under one account, the cheaper it gets to add another person.

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Bringing it all together, what will it cost?

Updated proposal on Feb 25th based on everyone’s feedback to make pricing more fair, easy to understand, and flexible:

  • Pricing is now per-person instead of per-account. Each person on a subscription gets 10 email accounts and you can contact me if you need more.

  • The price is now locked to $2/mo/person (paid annually) for an individual, and $1/mo/person for each additional person on a plan. Paying monthly costs a little more to cover the additional fees.

  • Auto-renewal is optional at sign-up for annual subscriptions, and I’ll be sure notifications go out before renewal for those who elect to keep it enabled.

  • Keep it simple. The subscription is for Simplify Gmail only. I will figure out how to integrate future products as options when they are ready.

  • Can I get it for free? Maybe. I’m grateful that so many of you see Simplify as a service worth paying for. But some feel that the price is still too expensive. While I can’t please everyone, I have a couple ideas that might help. One is to reward those that spread the word about Simplify. I’d much rather pay you for successful referrals than pay Facebook to spam people with ads. I’ll explain more about how the referral system will work in the next newsletter.

Here is what the pricing page might look like with all these changes:

The original pricing proposal:

  • Simplify everything! Not just for Gmail. Soon after Simplify Gmail v2 launches, preview versions of Simplify for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Chrome will launch too. This is just the beginning. Instead of charging different prices for different extensions, there will be one subscription that gives customers access to every Simplify product.

  • Between $2 – $5 / month (paid annually) will give you access to every Simplify product. Not even the cost of a cup of coffee. You pick the price in this range. If you want to pay monthly, the price goes up $1 / month to cover added fees.

  • Covers two accounts, easy to add more. One Simplify Account covers two accounts for each service (e.g., two Gmail accounts). You can add more accounts for $1 / month / account.

  • Buy more accounts, pay less per person. The price drops as you add more accounts to a plan ($0.75 each after 10 accounts, $0.50 after 25 accounts, and $0.25 after 50 accounts). Here’s a spreadsheet. You can give me a list of accounts or a domain name and number of accounts to allow.

  • Try before you buy. Simplify will include a 2-week free trial. For Simplify Gmail v2, you will get 4-6 weeks before you have to pay.

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Simplify Gmail v2 launches next week!

For real–it’s happening! It will be a free upgrade at first and will transition to a paid service in 4-6 weeks.

I’m both incredibly excited and super nervous to find out how many of you love Simplify enough to pay for it. I’d love to hear any thoughts or ideas you have in the comments.

Turning a free product into a paid product can be a rough transition. But I’m only interested in building quality software that people highly value and can depend on for years to come. I hope many of you will join me.

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