Thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of people got invites this weekend, mostly from friends and acquaintances, to join a new “mobile app gamification” site called Rippln. What’s creating all of the buzz is the site’s claim to enable significant cash rewards to users when the site goes live.
A closer look reveals that Rippln employs a sophisticated multilevel marketing scheme based on invites and access codes to tease fans into growing their following on the expectation that earlier “players” will receive kickbacks and residuals for bringing in additional levels, or ripples, of players and teams, ostensibly to grow the site’s commerce ecosystem. However, there’s no guarantee that fans will become players, or that such an ecosystem will get built.
The first publicly available videos explaining Rippln were published April 16 by a Robert Kiyosaki of RicherDaddy.com, a well-known MLM watcher who also posts a variety of videos on gold trading. Kiyosaki also captured an April 19 Rippln Hangout event , not widely circulated, which featured Jonathan Budd, Brian Underwood and Russell Brunson, all of whom lay claim to being the original team behind Rippln. The video discusses the origin of the platform and the plan for its future.
According to information from the Hangout event, the Ripple was first sent out into the world on Sunday April 14 via Google + and the earliest users began distributing invitations shortly thereafter. The buzz went viral over the weekend, crashing the site’s homepage by Sunday afternoon.
“I have only seen a few of the features…will change the old face of the American Dream in our era…,” raved one of several fans of the site that sent this reporter an invitation.
According to a video created for the site and redistributed on YouTube, Rippln initially provides players with simple gamification rewards such as badges for bringing new players on board. But that’s just for starters. Players who pursue the site aggressively also have the ability, allegedly, to reap significant real cash rewards.
According to a second video that explains the MLM scheme, there are two ways to profit from the site. One is by bringing in new players, and the other is by collecting residuals for commerce that takes place on the site.
To profit by bringing in new players, a user must first become a “global player” capable of reaching out anywhere on the globe to build teams and ripples. Kickbacks for gaining new players range in value from $25 to $240 per additional “global player,” according to the video. Each player has a significant but defined potential universe (10 layers) of teams and players the he or she can gather.
Importantly, nobody gets to be a player until the site’s app ecosystem goes live at an undisclosed date “later this year”; until that time, everyone involved is simply a “fan”.
Also importantly, if a newly recruited player doesn’t continue to grow his or her team, the coach of that player apparently can gain the right to claim any and all potential recruits that person could have gained, including residuals. In this way, it is seemingly possible for a high level player to multiply profits if lower level players bail on out of the game.
Commerce is enabled when a player downloads the Rippln app, which apparently contains an app site. A second module, the Rippln Communicator, allows qualified players or “coaches” to share the site with other players or teams, and so forth, ripple after ripple.
The actual ecosystem for downloading and buying apps is not expected to be released until later this year, according to another video.
The app, which is said to be in private beta, is being touted by thousands of fans this weekend through social media sites. Some savvy players have created redirects on Google and YouTube to their own video webinars and game discussions.
New fans are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement, purportedly to protect the intellectual property of the game, which likely includes the coding technology for verifying new users as well as the commerce site itself. More likely, though, the NDA protects the company from potential competitors as it tries to grow its presence and attractiveness to potential advertisers, who will make up a large portion of the revenue stream in addition to potential cuts from app sellers (although to date, there is no official information that any of these relationships have been confirmed).
Indeed, there is very little presence for the company outside of its own sites, which should raise red flags for some, and potentially increase the risk to early investors.
Rippln is not listed on CrunchBase or Angelist, has a meager company profile on LinkedIn (with no listed company officials) and the marketing play itself involves a variety of distinct Websites. There is no easily available information about company officers or their location, although in the Google+ hangout the founders indicate that the company is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. A news release that had earlier been posted to PRWeb is now nowhere to be found.
All of the above makes it potentially difficult to trace accountability for future payouts, confirm actual team building or validate commerce residuals, but the real test for the site will come when the ecosystem is deployed and fans become players – whenever that may be. That date, of course, will depend largely on whether Rippln – and its throng of willing fans – can get backing from advertisers and apps developers.
Note: This reporter has gained all his information for this story from publicly available files already uploaded on Youtube and other sites. Although multiple friends of the reporter offered login codes to open access to the site, this reporter chose not to do so and therefore did not encounter or peruse any NDA prior to filing this story.