Business model transparency as a feature

15 June 2020
15 Jun 2020

More and more Software-as-a-Service companies are selling their business model transparency as a feature:

Unlike [competitors], the way we make money is straightforward. We give you X, and you give us Y dollars in return. No shady third parties, no advertisers. You aren’t the product, and we’ll keep to this promise indefinitely.

This feels like a part of the tide of backlash against the tech giants that have built their wealth and markets precisely on obscuring exactly where value is being created and extracted. Free was good, until we realized it was a myth. And now, we want to pay for things again. But it also seems like there’s more to this than simply a reversion back to a world where the end user isn’t the product, and so the end users pay.

It seems like business model transparency is a feature, not simply a reversion to the old. Customers pay extra for more transparent business models, because they can make a judgement call on the product’s sustainability and ethics in a way that an opaque business doesn’t allow them to do.

And that transparency is a feature that customers vouch for with their money.

Cultural imperialism via product design

Are there indescribable things?