Holy Starbucks Card batman!!! Jonathan rocks the ultimate loyalty card

Every now and again I see something that makes me laugh and go, “why didn’t I think of that” as a way to make money or get something for free but rarely do I see one that is so much fun as the Starbucks Card with a digital identity, Twitter & FB.

Jonathan Stark pulled together personal Starbucks payment card / barcode, a twitter account and an API.  Read more about it here but the results are fun.  I am not sure how long it will sustain itself but it is working on the “Pay it Forward” model or take a penny / leave a penny but with budget crushing lattes.

As of this writing there were 1,945 Tweets representing god knows how many purchases and reloaded because things are aggregated and Twitter throttles tweets.  My guess is that some analyst has to account for this particular card in the loyalty reports and averages for the next few months.  An asterisk coming to a to a Starbucks memo near you.

The immediate idea I had was to pull it into our own app Bankons but we couldn’t figure out a way to easily facilitate the card reload and it felt like bad karma to just do purchases.  Also the velocity of purchases was so high that it was hard to get reliable results as many many people were using it at the same time.

The next thing I thought of was that anybody could run a loyalty or reward program using one of these because you can just randomly load money on a re loadable card and then let people know that it has a positive balance.  This would be the viral equivalent of a radio call in show.  “Howard Schultz you have 5 hours to retweet this post and get access to the reloadable card.”  You could also donate a percentage of the purchase to a charity or the free coffee every 15 could be gifted or put on eBay.  Ideas are out there but as technology evolves to real time and digital payments unique things like this are going to pop up.

Finally in other real time news and deals that are killing it. Check out Yipit’s trending offers program and Virgin Atlantic’s Gilt Group deal with 3,300 flight packages purchased.  Both are awesome for different reasons and fun to watch thing go viral and get more real time.


Total viral campaign run by Starbucks, thanks Hacker News once again.  Source and solution to all my blog posts.  Makes me feel good about analysis…

Update II: Response from Jonathan about card as viral, https://www.facebook.com/notes/jonathans-card/the-real-deal/174391689299156.  If it is written on the web it must be true…  Whether it came from a brand manager or a hacker I still think it is awesome.

Update III: Blatant fraud and a script to transfer dollar values, viral campaign or no this is an obvious flaw in how this one can be warped.  http://sam.odio.com/2011/08/12/i-took-625-jonathans-card/

My Analysis of this latest effort

  • Dollar value of transfer script (-$300)
  • Cash transferred to personal card ($625)
  • Time spent listing stuff on eBay(-$100)
  • Karma for donation to charity ($525)
  • Knowledge that you crushed somebody’s social dream for 5 minutes of hacker fame (priceless)

Update Final: Script writer issues public comment and apology.  Also I should have mentioned but Sam Odio is already Internet famous so my dig above was probably a miss.


About svmoneyball

A lifelong student of silicon valley. I also tend to play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee.
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2 Responses to Holy Starbucks Card batman!!! Jonathan rocks the ultimate loyalty card

  1. Matt West says:

    Hey Josh, just thought I’d leave a comment letting you know I enjoy reading your blog. I am working for a loyalty company as well (www.media-trac.com), so lots of common interests. If you haven’t seen it, some guy made a graph showing the account balances of Jonathan’s card, which I found interesting. It’s here: http://andymatthews.net/code/starbucks/card.cfm Hope everything is going well.

  2. svmoneyball says:

    Had not seen that graph, awesome and thanks for reading. Loyalty is a fun subject for sure.

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