Last week, there was a story on TechCrunch with the title: “Dropbox Automator Is Like IFTTT For Dropbox”. I had to laugh. First of all, it’s awesome that there’s already “Ifttt for X” stories. That’s usually a good sign for a young startup. Second, um, isn’t Ifttt like Ifttt for Dropbox?
The answer is yes. Yes it is. And I’m happy to announce today that CrunchFund is part of a great group of investors that have put money into Ifttt’s seed round of funding. Both TechCrunch and AllThingsD have a bit more on this.
Ifttt is one of those services that has been able to gain some good early buzz among the tech crowd despite no marketing or any kind of real outreach. And there’s a good reason for that — Ifttt fills a need that many of us have.
The comparison that most people like to make is to Yahoo Pipes, the cool data connection service that Yahoo launched in 2007. But Pipes never really took off. While innovative, it was never a product that regular people would use — Ifttt, with more attention paid to design and user experience, has that chance.
More than that, I think this could be a situation where timing is everything. Dodgeball was a cool concept in the early 2000s, but it never fully took off because it was too early. Foursquare rose from the ashes of Dodgeball and has exploded. Pipes was a cool concept in 2007, but Ifttt is coming to life in a time where data and data connections are more prevalent and vital than ever before. This is the age of the API.
More specifically, data exchange between services on the web is more vital than ever before. APIs do a lot of this work, but APIs don’t exist for everything and most users have no clue how to use APIs — or what they are. And they never will. They shouldn’t — it’s plumbing. Ifttt can be the front-end for smart API usage and connections.
And if they pull that off, there’s a real opportunity to be the platform for data exchange on the web in general. Creating a new photo app? Maybe you’ll integrate Ifttt and let them take care of the photo syndication to other networks. The user won’t have to sign in to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc — they’ll just have to sign in to Ifttt.
But that’s down the road. Right now, Ifttt is just a kickass, fun service with a side of incredible usefulness. My favorite use at the moment is grabbing all the pictures I take on Instagram and tag with “#mahbeer” and automatically sending them to Flickr. Yes, sadly, Flickr has become my beer picture repository.
It’s amazing how easy it is to do something like this with Ifttt. With Yahoo Pipes it would have been a pretty big pain in the ass.
I’m very excited to see what Ifttt grows into. And I’m happy that CrunchFund gets to be a part of this ride with founder Linden Tibbets.