And after all this, Twitter still does not have a viable business model.
...more pertinently, App.net didn't have one either - and they had an open API, charged real money and did all the things HNers' idealized version of Twitter would.
Interesting. I'd expect something entirely opposite - with one platform, pay-for-entrance, shills / marketers can just write the entry costs off as a small marketing expense. OTOH I can easily imagine a lot of smart people with interesting things to say shying away from spending money on such a platform.
I assume that $5 a month is only a problem for occasional users -- but I doubt that those add a lot of value to the ecosystem (aside from higher numbers of total users signed up and other vanity metrics)
It is cool. So we must use it.
Everyone else is using it so we must use it too.
140 characters? Feature?
Everyone can read everything? Feature?
The two biggest technical "features" of twitter can be arrived at by dumbing down either google+ or facebook 98%.
I wouldn't use Twitter if it was limited to people I already know, for instance.
It is just that twitter only has that option.
On things like Facebook, discussions are mostly between friends or "friends of friends", with no chance of an outside opinion, for instance.
These are ultimately people they wouldn't choose to follow the conversations of at all, given the choice.
For me Twitter was like starting with a clean slate. I just follow the people I want to follow, basically no 'friends', just interesting people.
Twitter on the other hand is full of interesting conversation, people speaking their mind, and great interaction and interesting insight. The amount of tech things I've learned from cool people on twitter is far far greater than Facebook.
Experience of both mediums prob depends on who you're interacting with. For me, Twitter is where the interesting people are.
Or as someone put it once: Facebook is for people you used to know, Twitter is for people you want to know.
And anytime I've looked at anything remotely political, I had to take a bath afterwards
I use it for things like gaming, talking to locals (almost everyone I know in my current city I met through Twitter, or through someone I met through Twitter), getting local news, and keeping up with friends.
1. It's where the people are. I don't think anyone is 100% loyal to it, but you have to respect its reach.
2. Instant answers. I can get insight on news via Twitter well before I can get it anywhere else. On top of that, I can get it from the people I want, many of whom are Tweeting hours before they are able to get an article published. This is great for sports, politics, etc.
I personally don't use Twitter nearly as often as I once did, and I rarely find reason to Tweet, but I do enjoy browsing it from time to time.
It seems to me that discussion is pretty much the opposite of inane.
Having a business model is nice. Having the right business model is essential. Twitter has a business model now, and while it isn't ideal it's in line with their type of product/company and if you scroll through some of the other comments this model isn't all that bad.
Twitter can improve it, but that's a story for a different thread.
gross profit: $1.49B
It's only losing money because of stock grants.
That's like saying "We're only losing money because we have to pay our staff"
TL;DR -- Twitter paid out about $680M in grants
1) VCs own hardly any shared of Twitter
2) Stock grants are used as compensation for people working at Twitter, NOT something that benefits investors (except in the sense people are working at the company the investors invested in I guess).
It's easy to blame VCs for everything, but I don't see how this makes any sense at all in this case.
Your comments would make some sense if they were pre-IPO.
They sure did. Fred Wilson (USV partner) has talked about it (Twitter as a portfolio company of USV) many times on his blog avc.com .
>Did they cash out after IPO?
This seems like a entirely inappropriate application for blockchains. There are other more suitable P2P constructs we could create using similar ideas (which predated bitcoin) instead of jumping on a bandwagon.
The problem, then, seems to be with management and the board not understanding or maybe not accepting reality as it is. If they can figure out how to run Twitter with hundreds of people rather than thousands, they will have a great business.
Congratulations to Dalton and co for trying something hard and worthwhile, and wrapping it up responsibly when it didn't pan out.
Not sure what more you can do when the business isn't going well. 2+ years of maintenance, open sourcing, 2 months notice, data export, no additional billings.
Respect to Dalton and the team.
I hope we find a way to pay for this stuff more than I hope getting it free becomes standard.
The primary memory which I have of that era are people not wanting to pay for something which wasn't clearly useful, shrugging, and going back to Twitter where most other people were. By the time app.net finally launched the free tier the self-inflicted damage was already fatal.
The moment they allowed free accounts was the start of the end. The spam and the noise came. All the things we were trying to avoid. But they just wanted beefier numbers to throw around.
I developed quite a few apps on the platform and made a few thousand in the process. It more than paid the fees back and was totally worth it.
It raises a lot of interesting questions about the sustainability of the "app economy" for me.
I continue to be at least somewhat optimistic that non ad-supported models are worth trying. It seems like Patreon is doing really well and is perhaps something we can all learn from.
For me, the lack of apps/integrations made it essentially impossible for me to get the people I wanted to talk to on there on to there.
But I'm really glad you tried, I'm even more glad you've documented what did and didn't work, and I definitely got value for money.
Good luck with whatever's next.
I remember trying to explain why it wasn't a stupid idea to people way back when it launched on HN, and had kind of assumed that it'd died years ago.
Hypothesis: If you can find a way to provide value while you build up the network, the product would do better.
Second hypothesis: If you can find a way to acquire valuable users with a low-effort funnel and 'leech' users with a paid funnel that would also make the product perform better.
Taking these as assumptions for a moment, this would imply a natural advantage for federated networks if they provide interoperability between different services that have value on their own without network effects.
We sort of took the tortoise approach to development, and this seems to have helped solve the chicken and egg problem with the userbase.
I will email you about it.
App.net was neither. It tried to be a platform for too many things for not enough people. So I can't see how its failure reflects on the economy and not just a bad idea.
But then every startup would have to shut down!
Mastodon, https://mastodon.social/, is a new and positive alternative. Mastodon is a free, open-source social network server. It's GNU Social-compatible and federated. https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon
Diaspora is also still going strong with 20k MAU but there is no interaction between the pods https://the-federation.info/.
Non-U.S. residents and citizens must follow the laws of their domicile pertaining to online conduct, communication and content. Gab AI, Inc. will respect the territorial sovereignty of nation-states and their applicable laws pertaining to online communications, though we urge governments of the world to consider Articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
So does this mean they are willing to censor content from people who live in less-free countries based on those countries' laws even though they don't have to, being based in the US? Isn't that weird for a "free speech" network?
On the other hand, there's Mastodon/GNU Social (what GP recommended) for people from the left, where they ban fascists/nazis, but they apply the same rules to users from all countries, as expected from people from the left.
It makes me kinda sad that these alternatives to Twitter are so politically polarised...
However, it has not been a viable platform (one that people actually used) for many years, so while I am saddened that it is finally being shut down, I'm not surprised. Many thanks to Dalton and everyone who built it and kept it going these many years!
I think what everyone was worried about back then was that Twitter was changing the nature of what Twitter was. Twitter started placing limits on API tokens, introduced new UI in the form of cards, which could also be used for ads, etc. There was a sense that the freedom and openness of the Twitter platform was quickly diminishing.
Twitter's response was basically no response, but in a good way. They slowed down making those sorts of radical changes, and to this day you can still browse Twitter with a 3rd-party app like TweetBot and never see cards or ads.
TweetBot is older than the API cap, so did they roll that back? It was 100,000 users (or 2x current users if that was >100,000 which TweetBot probably was). So if they didn't roll it back I guess TweetBot would have stopped adding clients.
(This is something that happens for me regularly -- I "discover" something only by its shutdown notice making the HN front page...).
Whenever stuff like this happens, I always wonder how many people, like me, hadn't heard of some service or product, and I wonder how many of them would have used it if they had. Would it have been enough to save the company from going under? Was it a marketing problem? I dunno, that's just the kind of strange places my mind tends to encounter in its errings.
Problem was none of them actually stopped posting on Twitter, at best they just set app.net to mirror their Twitter never really engaging with the network because none of them were willing to give up their high follower counts they had from being early adopters of Twitter.
Too much ego to put up with the BS from twitter, yet also too much ego to give up their high follower counts.
Since the primary motivation for people switching to App.net was them getting upset at Twitter, they slowed down the frequency and breadth of the changes they were making to their service so as to upset fewer people and less frequently. In the end, this was a positive outcome for users that liked Twitter exactly the way it used to be and didn't want it to change.
Of course, Twitter's changes may not have been motivated by App.net at all, but even if not there was still an escape hatch for users if things got too bad.
Except they couldn't. They had to be invited or pay for it. In those days circa 2012, it was a hype train among a niche crowd.
It still has some believers. Someone wrote a new implementation in Ruby called Mastodon recently, which has a nice interface.
(I'm looking to self host.)
For Mastodon, deploy their Docker image?
Let's say for every one content creator that are on average 100 eyeballs on the content they create (1:100). Almost universally, the 100 eyeballs can be translated to more economic value than the 1, and hence why the advertising model is so lucrative.
build your network with App.net and users can basically just opt-in automagically importing their data from other App.net networks thereby reducing the friction and hopefully making it easier to over come the ghost-town problem.
build your network with App.net and tool makers (including you) automatically get a well defined/robust/tested API to write apps against to interact with your network.
When someone starts letting me pay for groceries with my browser history sign me up.
Good idea isn't it?
Would be like standing in the town square screaming your thoughts into a loud speaker then being upset that everyone knows what your thinking.
Anonymous users see ads. Authenticated users don't. It costs $5 for an account.
They have run funding drives but, to date, $5/user keeps the lights on and provides a small crew of moderators each a modest stipend.
Edit: spelling, grammar.
I don't think we actually know that as a fact, it's just that not much else has been tried.
If you'll excuse the self-plug, I wrote about the death of ADN back in 2014 and re-reading my post, I think it holds up.
Branding wise is made absolutely no sense.
Huge kudos for that.
There are some exceptions, like messenger.com which I don't think is a counter-example. I think that messenger.com would be no-more or less successfull if it was named barf.com. People use it because facebook already has a foothold.
1. Social networks are important enough that a subscription model is viable
2. Social networks should be built on a platform for social network applications
Obviously neither idea could save app.net. Which idea caused most of the problems?
I think a subscription model could be viable with better execution but it really seems like that would be best with a tiered approach so the social network wasn't held back by the payment requirement.
But freemium is hard: Either you make a market for ads, and have intrusive data collection and analytics, and you have to compete with the most intrusive ad-supported products that already dominate the ad market and you become as bad as them, OR you have pure freemium and you have the question of how to make the up-sell compelling enough while keeping the free level of service interesting enough. The only good example of success at freemium is LinkedIn where they segmented their user population and only made the recruiters pay a very high premium price.
Moreover, Twitter has a problem with churn. It's free to start, but baffling for many, and troll-infested if you stick around. All ad-supported social networks have that problem plus the invasiveness issue.
When a service shuts down, it'd be really nice of them to keep a mention of wth they were doing on their frontpage.
I went down this road once (http://www.odatahq.com/) and loved every minute of it. I still look at what we made and find true joy in it. But the end game was typical of most developer platforms ...
Shutdown date according to http://blog.app.net/2017/01/12/app-net-is-shutting-down/: March 14, 2017.
Which date is correct?
You need both for your project to succeed. This should not be underestimated.
The nice thing is that if your platform is decentralized, hosting is a non-issue and you just have to focus on adoption.
Seriously, whatever you do, you need to spend the same amount of time promoting it, otherwise no one will notice. 50000 downloads is nothing in 5 years, it is 2.7 users a day. If you are in SanFrancisco you can get more than 3 downloads a day just going to the street and talking with strangers.
And they got 2.5M in their series A. https://index.co/company/AppDotNet?utm_source=thenextweb.com
Where were their budget for marketing? At least I would have expected 500k in marketing and 1$ per install, them we can talk about the users not liking the product or whatever.
UPDATE: you can keep downvoting (I would appreciate a feedback comment to explain the downvote) but it doesn't change the fact that marketing is more important than the product and they didn't spend on it
Well, you shouldn't judge me so fast. I have an MBA with marketing and I have been working on marketing for some time in my life. So I am aware what a marketing plan involves, and promotion is a small portion of it. I cannot suppose the founders knew all about marketing, but I would expect them to spend some money in promotion even if it not wise money.
Maybe you like this more. You have to do some marketing: define your product, know your users, define your goals, find the channels where your users are, target them, promote your product to those users in those channels, measure the results, analyze what happened and rinse and repeat. (that was also a small definition because marketing is still more)
Why is it so hard to create a Twitter alternative that's popular and effective? Does the world tend to gravitate towards single standards for these things, like Facebook, HTTP or email?
Little guys like App.net won't stand much of a chance against the behemoths until the U.S. legalizes competition against the tech cartels.
Once that happens, sites like App.net and Twitter can compete on an even footing, and consumers will be free to choose services based on merit rather than lock-in.
It's possible that if Twitter crumples under the weight of the abuse, if it becomes nothing but a dead sea of trolls, that we'll see a successful replacement.
Until then, muddle on!
Until most of the publishers are dual-publishing (or migrated), or most of the readers are dual-reading (or migrating), it's not an alternative.
GAB is a niche Twitter alternative.
And after all this, Twitter still does not have a viable business model.