This past week Ether officially started their beta program, and already got folks like Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington (Techcrunch) giving a bunch of love. I’ve had the privelege to beta test the system myself, and I have to say, the world is a-changing!
While they’ve been in stealth mode for quite some time, I have a feeling this is one of those things that could take off quite fast. It’s one of those concepts that makes so much sense you wonder why it hasn’t happened already.
Here it is in a nutshell: Ether turns your time into money. How? Pretty simple: you sign up, you set your rate (per minute, per hour, or even for ‘blocks’ of time), you get a phone number. Give someone the number (or, say, put it on your business card, Web site, blog or whatever), and any call you take is money in your pocket.
Want to try it out? I’ve set up two numbers, one’s a freebie, one will cost you. I’ll open up the freebie one for an hour or two a day (yes, you can set ANY call-in hours you want – which is nice), and leave the other one up too.
So why Ether? If you are a…
you could use Ether.
Picture this: it’s April 14th at 8:30pm, you’re doing TurboTax, you need to know if you can deduct the 3 extra sheep from your farm expenses. You google “tax advice” and rather than have to set an appointment, or find open hours, you see a number offering last-minute all-night tax help for $15 per 10 minute call. Some poor schlub who works at H&R Block during the day has set up an Ether account and is going to make himself an extra $500 that night alone!
How about this: my wife runs a chocolate business (subtle plug) and knows a lot about gourmet food, chocolate, and pastries, but I’m her Webmaster and she’s still learning QuickBooks. She does her monthly accounting only to find her statement is way out of balance, and googles “Quickbooks help”. She finds someone’s blog who sells an hour of his time for $50 flat. Ether.
Here’s a techie example: you and your buddy Sergey are putting together your first Search web site, and between the two of you you have no idea how to make an HTML table, or change a link color. A web consultant can help, and Ether can be his vehicle for the transaction (although in this case, he should opt for stock).
Last one: you’re a Best Buy employee and you sell HDTVs all day and all night. You sign up for an Ether account, then go sell some Google Adwords, and without a Web site, business card, or even your boss knowing, you are making an extra $45/hour for guiding people to buy the right Panasonic, Sony, or Pioneer plasma for their home. For another $250 you can even arrange to come install it!
There’s a lot of musings about the “Web 2.0“, and there’s a lot of new silliness to ensue. In the midst of it all are some great ideas. Ether is one of them. Plus don’t those guys look like they could change the world (at least a little bit)?
I’ll do a full review of the Ether sign-up process in the next few weeks.