Home Talkr Up For Sale – More Web 2.0 Fallout

Talkr Up For Sale – More Web 2.0 Fallout

starting to see a lot of startups either shutting
, fading
or being put
up for sale
. The latest is Talkr, an
automated text-to-voice service that we actually use here on Read/WriteWeb. At
the bottom of each R/WW post, you’ll see an
Audio link
– click on that to hear a computer-generated female voice read
out the post. I introduced this feature back in
June 2005
and have kept it around because it’s a great accessibility tool –
i.e. it provides a way for people with visual disabilities or reading problems to
read this blog. There are other similar
too, such as Botcast

So why has Talkr decided to put itself up for sale? Founder Chris Brooks
explained in a
blog post
that he hasn’t been able to monetize the product, resulting in him
not being able to introduce new features. He wrote:

“I began work on Talkr in March of 2005, and after nearly two years of
banging on this idea, I have decided to try to find it a permanent corporate
home. I strongly believe that Talkr will thrive as methods of monetizing
podcasts become simpler and more robust. Bloggers will provide content and
distribution and Talkr will provide increasingly sophisticated text to speech,
and ad integration.”

This is a sign of the times unfortunately, that a lot of web 2.0 startups
haven’t been able to achieve network effects and/or monetize their services. In
Talkr’s case, I think the technology itself has great potential – so hopefully
it gets a buyer. Also, as Chris points out in the eBay sale page, there is a
growing market for audio advertisements in podcasts – in December Google released
a product
called “Audio Ads”, which allows advertisers to place
audio advertisements in radio.

Talkr is up
for sale on eBay
, where the reserve is $10,000. Also on that page are some
stats: 2,173 bloggers have registered more than 3000 blogs with Talkr; 1,179 of
those bloggers have agreed to accept advertising in the audio that Talkr

MP3 downloads from blogs that use Talkr have shown steady growth:

Sep 2006: 21,576

Oct 2006: 31,098

Nov 2006: 32,087

Dec 2006: 38,783

(Excludes major bots)

Chris also reveals some useful stats about his revenue and expenses:

Talkr’s Expenses:

Talk currently uses 3 servers, one, which hosts the web application, the
crawler, and stores the actual audio files, a second which hosts the
text-to-speech server, and a third which hosts the images displayed on blogs.
Those costs run $313 a month.

DNS hosting runs $25 a year

Site monitoring runs $5 a month

Recurring annual Text-to-speech server licenses (will be disclosed to bidders
upon request).

Talkr’s Revenue:

I have experimented with Google AdSense, Referral partnership with
Audible.com (via cj.com) and Text Link Ads. The link ads have been the most
successful, generating $42.50 in revenue in December 2006.”

So it seems both expenses and revenue are pretty low right now. It sounds
like the undisclosed “Recurring annual Text-to-speech server licenses”
is the biggest expense.

How many more web 2.0 startups are going to put themselves up for sale or
stop development? It seems like a bit of a trend right now…

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