- A new website called Who Paid 99 Cents will show you everyone else who paid 99 cents – after you pay 99 cents.
- Every time you want to see an updated list of who paid 99 cents, you have to pay another 99 cents.
- That’s all the website does, and it seems to be made by a computer entertainment studio called Thinko.
- The Thinko team made the website mostly for a quick laugh, but people are actually paying.
In today’s internet culture, we want to know things right away. We want to click on something and immediately be greeted with what we want to see. We don’t want to pay for that information, and some of us go to great lengths to avoid that, by installing ad blockers or using multiple free trials to keep reading free news articles.
So why did I just pay 99 cents on a website called Who Paid 99 Cents, which only shows me who else paid 99 cents to see who else paid 99 cents?
My initial thoughts were: No way. This could be anybody, and they’re asking for my credit-card info.
But then curiosity kicked in, and I paid 99 cents. Apparently, so did 43 other people before me.
The website doesn't explain much. When you open it, you're greeted with a simple header asking "Who Paid 99¢?" and some text boxes for your name, email, and credit-card information.
Beneath that, the very fine print says: "Your name will be public. Obviously. That's the point. Just use a fake one if you want. Your receipt will be emailed to you."
In even smaller print below the fine print, the website says: "All sales are final. Please don't sue us."
Once I paid the 99 cents, I received the instant gratification we expect now on the internet. Finally, I could see who else paid 99 cents.
Admittedly, I didn't learn much. Forty-three people had paid 99 cents before I did, and many of them appeared to be using fake names. A few plugged their SoundCloud profiles. One name was simply "9/11 was an inside job." Another person claimed to be HQ Trivia.
Here's the kicker: If you're dying to see how the list has grown, you have to pay 99 cents again. Every time you want to see an updated list, you have to pay an additional 99 cents.
At the very bottom of the page, there's a "Made by Thinko" icon that takes you to the website Thinko.com.
Thinko is a computer entertainment studio in Brooklyn, New York, and it appears to be behind this mysterious website.
"We like making computers do funny things," Pasquale D'Silva, a Thinko partner, told Business Insider. "Computers have been used to do boring things forever."
When asked simply, "Why?" D'Silva said, "We pretty much build anything that makes us laugh at Thinko."
As for why anyone would pay 99 cents to see who else has done the same, D'Silva said he wasn't sure who would actually do it but that it's something simple that makes people laugh.
"People are paying because it gives them something funny they can talk about," D'Silva said. "I think people like the feeling of making other people laugh too. It's just good energy. Especially given that it's at their expense."
And what will Thinko do with all the 99-cent transactions flowing into its bank account?
"Invest it in the next great internet comedy product," D'Silva said. "We have an endless queue of things. Ideally we fill the internet up with them, and everyone can laugh a little more."