Jim McKelvey on What Invisibly Does to Reclaim Your Personal Data

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  • Published on February 10, 2022
  • In News

If you've been wondering what Invisibly —St. Louis' most stealthy startup— actually does, here's an explanation from the fintech-meets-adtech startup founder, Jim McKelvey.


Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square, has launched Invisibly, a new company designed to return personal data back to consumers. Invisibly deploys a unique strategy that offers consumers the preference to opt-in or opt-out of ad viewing.

Speaking to David Ignatius, columnist at Washington Post Live, McKelvey further emphases on how consumers should be given the choice to engage with ads and content. Moreover, he shares a few insights on his new book, The Innovation Stack.

If you’ve been wondering what Invisibly does (as it’s been a pretty mysterious St. Louis Startup until now!), Jim offers a useful analogy to junk calories in this transcript to the video.

It’s an experiment in changing the current economics of attention through digital advertising networks, from one of pure consumption to one of selective consumption:

“Right now, what we have is an economic model that allows no consumer input, except by the amount of time we spend on a thing. Okay. So, if I like something, the only way I can sort of vote that up is by spending more and more time consuming that thing, and that’s a really inefficient way to consume. It would be as if food were sold by the calorie, and the only way you could pay for a good restaurant would be to eat a ton of food.”

Jim McKelvey on The Path Forward: Reclaiming Personal Data with James McKelvey by David Ignatius for the Washington Post

Interestingly Invisibly’s technology uses a digital wallet, which means crypto, smart contracts and the concept of pseudonymous web might feature into future plans of the fintech-meets-adtech startup:

“So, in the Invisibly system, what we imagine happening is, first, we’re going to give people basically a payment. We’re going to say, “Here, do these things,” which are basically viewing ads or answering surveys, things that normally Google and Facebook would be paid for, but we’re just going to pay you. And it’s going to go in this wallet, and then from that wallet, you can spend, and you can spend it on content, or if there’s enough in the wallet–I mean, I guess, presumably, you could spend it on other stuff, but right now, our focus is to allow you to be able to afford whatever content you want effortlessly.”

Jim McKelvey on The Path Forward: Reclaiming Personal Data with James McKelvey by David Ignatius for the Washington Post

Honestly, regarding what Invisibly does, I’m not sure if that explanation really clears anything up, but it’s one of the first I’ve found about in the wild! Overall, to me it sounds like a similar concept to Solid.

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