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A new startup thinks it can take a slice of the booming make-your-own Facebook app market with a seemingly simple strategy: Pay users to create apps. AppBank, which launches today, gives users a cut of the ad revenue generated from the ads that surround the basic polls and quizzes they build. The product has been in private beta for five months now and apps created on it have already been viewed millions of times, including eight million times last month alone. (One of the most popular apps so far: A quiz that tells users who their ‘ideal TV husbands’ would be). The company hopes that its apps will attract 50 million views a month by December, at which point AppBank could be bringing in about $1.2 million in revenue for the year, CEO Fred Hsu tells us. The startup is already profitable, says Hsu, who co-founded domain name firm Oversee.net.
AppBank is going up against a number of rivals, including Quiz Monster and LOLApps, that have also created simple platforms for social network members to use to build and then share quizzes and polls with their friends. But Hsu says that the competition only offers a “one way street” — “they don’t share anything with the end user.”
The key to AppBank’s ambitions is to attract an army of users — mainly stay-at-home moms and college students — who will create “quality apps” on the company’s platform. Hsu is trying to get them on board by showcasing stories of AppBank users who he says have made hundreds of dollars a month by building apps on the platform; AppBank also provides live support, along with online tutorials. In order to avert a flood of spammy apps, users only get paid if their apps get viewed a certain number of times. If users pass that threshold, they get access to detailed analytics on who’s taking their quizzes and tests, including trends by gender, age, and what results they are selecting.
Hsu, along with a partner, started Oversee.net nine years ago and then sold some of their holdings in the company to Oak Hill Capital Partners for $150 million a year-and-half ago. He’s funding AppBank with his own cash; the startup currently has six full-time employees. The plan is to eventually expand to include other social networks and also let users create more sophisticated apps. “We acknowledge that quizzes and games and gifting apps are sort of the fad,” Hsu says. “(We want to be on top of the) next series of popular apps that end users can crowdsource themselves.”