No more Readbug

After recently trying (and failing) to raise more funds to pivot their ‘Netflix for magazines’ product into a reading material platform for universities dubbed ‘Readbug Academy’ they have today (26th April 2017) updated their Seedrs status to ‘Winding Up’.

Their security flaws certainly didn’t help, nor did their very niche range of magazines and with the likes of Readly heavily investing in advertising and partnerships with the like of McDonalds I’m afraid I could see this one coming.

Over the course of three funding rounds they took £344,621 from Seedrs investors, Matthew Hammett’s final update tells us “with no assets or liquidity it is the boards view that we will now look to have the company voluntarily struck off” – I’m sure in a day or two the discussion board will be full frustrated comments and the same old questions about claiming tax relief.

Bugged Out

As I expected, Readbug didn’t reach its funding target during its latest campaign, the latest cache of the raise (25th March 2017) has the raise reaching the dizzy heights of just £5,972 of their £80k target.

As mentioned previously, the update we investors received before the campaign began didn’t paint a pretty picture so it came as no surprise that this campaign was well off the mark.

Now that the campaign has closed, Readbug today issued an update to investors – It seems they are suspending their B2C product on 31st March 2017 to put all their efforts into the B2B business, they’ve as good as admitted the B2C product is not viable at this stage, with no forthcoming investment I’m not convinced the B2B product is going to fair any better.

This must be the third or fourth nail in this particular coffin, I think they’re going to need a pretty special crowbar to get them out again.

No more Readbugs

Even if the company has avoided directly responding to my queries they have listened to my concerns and done something about their site security.

They’re now rocking SSL on their signup and payment pages, so well done Readbug, there are still issues but my main concern has at least been addressed.

Cheers ReadBug, don’t bother to thank me for pointing this out or even acknowledge my existence.

Last updated: March 20, 2017 at 23:08 pm

Readbugs

Readbug, the magazine subscription service recently opened what I believe to be their fourth crowdfunding round on Seedrs; all previous rounds overfunded and I invested in two of them. This time things don’t seem to be going too well; over a week in they are up to just over £11k (14%) of their £80k target.

To me, the pitch just doesn’t feel very compelling, there’s a distinct lack of detail and they seem to be focussed trying to quickly pivot their model from a failing? B2C (business-to-consumer) to a B2B (business-to-business) offering. Much of the verbiage is re-spun from their November ’16 shareholder update, things didn’t feel great when I read that, and my mind hasn’t been changed.

Added to this, there are no figures to support their (admittedly modest by crowdfunding standards) increase in valuation. Zero indication of how the B2C business is doing, are we to assume it is dead, even though their website is accepting new sign-ups?

Scratch the surface and things don’t get much better. I thought I’d try out a subscription to get a feel for the product. Sadly I didn’t get very far as I didn’t fancy entering my personal details (credit card number and all) on an unsecured website.

If you want to stand a chance of making any money at least give people a chance to spend it without putting their personal and financial details at risk. The major browsers all make a secure site easily recognisable, everyone should know how to look for those signs and if they don’t see them they should vote with their feet.

I also ran a quick security check using Mozilla Observatory and they scored a 0, passing only 3 of the tests, for a service purporting to be the equivalent of Spotify but for magazines they’re a long way off Spotify for security. I’ve raised these points with Readbug, I’ll let you know if I get a response.

Their new ‘reader’ site fairs marginally better in that it uses HTTPS so if you already have an account you should be fine. However, if you don’t you still have to go back to readbug.com to nervously enter your credit card details. Perhaps their app fairs better in terms of security. I wouldn’t know as I don’t have an iPhone, just like over half the population.

The first time I invested the product hadn’t been launched, the second time it might have been (I forget), I probably just topped up based on the first round and didn’t really do any additional research. This time, now that I’ve had time to look at things properly I think I’ll give it a miss.

The Crowd Punter.