" The Internet has become the podium for rants. But Andrew Mason hopes his Web site will spur actions, not just more hot air. "
His website, ThePoint, invites people to create or join a campaign on anything, from winter-proofing Chicago with a dome to pressuring Pfizer to cut drug prices in developing countries.
Signing up is free, and site users are not required to follow through on promises to act or contribute money until the campaign has reached what its creator has deemed the "tipping point" - the minimum number of members or funds needed to make a change.
In the case of the Chicago Winter Dome, the tipping point is $10 billion. (So far, $233,085 has been pledged.)
Mason, 27, dropped out of the master's program in public policy at the University of Chicago to start the site last October.
He raised $1 million from angel investors and $4.8 million from New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm in Chevy Chase, Md.
The site may soon reach a tipping point of its own: Mason plans to start posting ads.
"If the campaign is trying to stop late fees at Hollywood Video," he notes, "it makes a great advertising venue for Blockbuster or Netflix."
Saturday, February 6, 2010