Blippy's Philip Kaplan on the Last Frontier of Private Info

Is nothing sacred anymore? Is privacy just an outdated construct in light of new ways to harness personal information? That’s what it seems like these days. Blippy, a new startup incubated by Charles River Ventures, is trying to push the private/public boundary another step further, by allowing users to share online their purchase history down to the specific item.

We spoke today with Philip Kaplan, the F***ed Company and AdBrite founder who co-founded Blippy. Today Blippy shows purchase data from Amazon, iTunes, GoDaddy and others; coming soon are Fandango, PayPal, Crate & Barrel and Etsy. As compared to a finance management site like Mint, where users upload transaction information as a personal effort to better monitor their money, Blippy creates a social experience right down to each item you bought, each app you downloaded and which movie you’re planning to see. It’s kind of insane — and really, something worth trying on for size yourself to see if it floats your boat or raises your hackles. If you’re quick, 150 of you can register for Blippy with the invite code gigaom123.

Below is a condensed version of an interview with Kaplan from earlier today.

Liz Gannes: To me, this almost seems an art experiment in pushing forward what information can be social.

Philip Kaplan: There is definitely a hump that people need to get over to the point that people get comfortable sharing this information, but then you wonder why we all have this feeling that this should be private. I guess our parents told us not to share this? Nobody really knows why.

I don’t want to come across like I think everybody who’s concerned about this is silly, because I was super concerned about this. But now I’ve relaxed about a lot of this stuff. It’s more interesting when you do. I’ve spent $160 on a Wi-Fi scale on Amazon, and now four people that I know of have bought it since they saw it on Blippy.

Liz: As with other early social services, my first connections on Blippy are with people I know only loosely through the tech industry. So it’s hard to know how I’d feel about the service if I was using it with closer friends.

Kaplan: Personally I think there’s a lot of value in sharing with strangers. I probably follow 400 people on Twitter, and I know probably 50 of them personally.

Some people are using Blippy and they’re not making their purchases public at all. They’re just using it as a simple consolidation of their purchases, like Mint.com but one step further. Our goal would be — you know that receipt you get from the grocery store and you throw away, that’s amazing data. We want to show not just where you’re spending but where you’re buying.

Liz: It seems pretty daring that you made the default to share everything publicly, given you’re already encouraging people to share information they’ve never shared before.

Kaplan: You can use the site anonymously, publicly, use your real name or not. Mine is public and that’s where I find the most value. My theory will be that people use the site for a while and then open up.

Liz: As people get started on the service, what Blippy users would you recommend following who make interesting purchases?

Kaplan: Cat, Matt [Cutts, from Google], Shellen [Jason, from Brizzly], Noah Kagan. And, of course, the Blippy founders, me, Ashvin Kumar, Chris Estreich.

Liz: The site was a little sluggish for me today; will you be able to handle the load of additional users?

Kaplan: We just added three servers about 15 minutes ago, so it should be better now.

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