We've already touched on the moral cost of spamming your users to rattle up hype—but what about actual cash dollars? According to an insider, Dave Morin's tiny social network is spending huge money to pester your friends to join.
Like RapLeaf before it, Twilio is a company you'd never know exists unless you set out to find something like it. But unlike RapLeaf, there's nothing inherently sinister about Twilio—companies pay Twilio to to manage bulk communications. This can be something as innocuous as, say, serving as middleman between customer support and customers.
But Path's not an innocuous client—we hear, by way of a Twilio employee, that Path's notorious SMS blitz is powered by Twilio. To the tune of half a million per month. This is a lot of money to be throwing at bulk texting. This past March, Dave Morin told Quora that the app was no longer using Twilio because "it was not performing as well as a standard sign up form." But that was then—and given the cash priority Path's made "growth hacking" (that new most vile euphemism for shady self-promotion), it's highly plausible and zero surprising right now.
If that $500,000 figure's accurate, how much spam are we talking about? How many phony Check out these shared photos on Path! is the company hurling without permission?
A Twilio rep told me he's "unable to speak for any current/former customers," but you can run a little math based on the company's listed SMS pricing. If Path's monthly budget is indeed $500,000, that'd buy them between 150 and 250 million spam texts. That sounds astronomical, but the company boasts a user base of over 10 million, and you have to figure that each user has around, oh I don't know, 100 people in their contacts list? Do the multiplication and you're looking at enough bought texts to saturate new users and target the friends of existing ones.
You're also looking at $6 million each year spent just on sending text messages. This is a company with zilch for revenue. Every text it buys come out of a venture capital piggy bank—this is setting your arm on fire to see in the dark, and all the more reason to believe that Path really is hoping someone will buy it before it self-destructs.
An email to Path was not returned.