Last week, 21 Inc, a Silicon Valley-based bitcoin startup which raised over $121 million in venture capital funding, officially rebranded to Earn.com, to focus on allowing users to monetize social media channels, accounts, and email addresses.

But, many media outlets falsely reported that Earn.com has shifted away from bitcoin to create an initial coin offering (ICO) and cryptocurrency-based ecosystem for users. Balaji Srinivasan, the founder and CEO of Earn.com, clarified:

“We’re still pro-Bitcoin and always will be 🙂 Not a shift away from Bitcoin as we’ll continue to support it. We never announced a shift away from Bitcoin. We’re continuing to support it.”

The Earn.com team also revealed that minimal changes have been implemented onto the original 21 Inc platform and email monetization system. The only major alteration the company has made is the migration of domain from 21.co to Earn.com.

“Our product is unchanged: you still earn digital currency for replying to emails and completing tasks, and you can still earn tokens for signing up for our token launch later this year. But we think ‘Earn.com’ gets that concept across more quickly than ‘21.co’, especially to folks who are new to digital currency. The idea behind Earn.com is that we’ve built a positive-sum social network, where every notification is an opportunity to earn money,” explained the Earn.com team.

Sustainable Business Model: Using Cryptocurrencies to Monetize Email

There are limited benefits for users when using premium mailing features such as Linkedin’s Inmail. For example, if a user on the LinkedIn network sends an “InMail” to an executive at a large company, there is no guarantee that the executive will respond to the email and in many cases, InMails are left unanswered.

Earn.com encourages recipients to respond to messages by rewarding recipients with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The concept is very similar to LinkedIn’s InMail; the major difference is that the recipient is rewarded with the premium payment the user sends and as a result, Earn.com discovered that the response rates from message have substantially increased when recipients are incentivized to reply.

“Empirically, we find that Earn.com senders get response rates >30% within 24 hours for $1 incentives, and >70% within 24 hours given $10 incentives. This holds true even for messages with many thousands of recipients, and is extraordinarily high relative to the 1.7% response rates for typical cold emails. As such, any business that sends cold email or conducts surveys can benefit from Earn.com,” the Earn.com team added.

The monetization of email is only the beginning of what a tokenized economy could offer for communications and social media. In the future, Earn.com could operate as a decentralized and incentivized LinkedIn, where potential employees could contact employers with premium services using bitcoin and tasks could be offered with payment in cryptocurrencies.