PayPal X Contest Winners - Good & Very Bad.

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 3-minute read

First off the good. AppBackr. They came second, and as far as I’m aware they didn’t break any rules. I’ve personally sent them a congratulatory message and everyone who took part in making PortaPayments sees them as a honest, worthy winner. In the future I’d have no problems in working with them to help them help apps get funded with a tie-up via AndAppStore or help getting the word out to Android developers.

Now the bad, Rentalic. They won first prize yet right from the start we identified them as being non-compliant with the contest rules (they’re entry D914), so to us they shouldn’t have been in the voting let alone have walked away with US$50,000 in cash and been given US$50,000 in fees.

What was wrong with Rentalic?, well, it’s their feature video. The video shown at the top of their entry is a very slick piece of advertising but failed to show a user using their application, which was a clearly stated requirement in the competition rules (in fact we couldn’t even find a single screen shot of their application in the video). There is a second video linked to in the description, but that’s 1:54 long, so pulling it into the main feature video would create a feature video of 3 minutes 23 seconds, which is well above the 2 minute limit PayPal stated in the rules & in emails sent to entrants, and so combining the two would have also make them ineligible.

The reason why this is a problem?, that’s all to do with the initial round of the competition which was a basic popularity contest. Many entries were trying to win a popularity contest with a “rules-compliant” video which showed real-world footage of users using their applications to ensure they complied with the rules. Rentalic didn’t and just used a high quality cartoon advert as the feature video, which is the one most people would have based their voting on.

I’m sure many of the entries could have come up with equally impressive pieces of marketing if they’d decided not to meet the requirement about including actual usage footage in their feature video, and/or skip the one about total feature video time not exceeding 2 minutes, but the rules said you couldn’t, and many entries stuck to the rules, and thus were at a disadvantage from the start.

So the end result; The competition was won by an entry with a TV-worthy feature video which didn’t comply with the competition rules. Given our experience of the PayPal X contest its' not a huge surprise that a non-compliant entry won, and we wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point in the future, an announcement is made of an investment in, or a purchase of, rentalic by eBay, PayPal or another company/person involved in the funding, running, or organisation of the contest.

[Update : It’s been suggested to me that Rentalic might be a copy of Rentoid. Rentoid.com was registered in early 2007 and Rentalic.com in late 2008, so it looks like PayPals “contest that rewards innovative apps” may have been won by a copy of a 3+ year old idea]