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Diaspora breaks $100k and all of Kickstarter's records (kickstarter.com)
94 points by adamhowell 1442 days ago | comments


thaumaturgy 1442 days ago | link

Rats -- someone here said, "I'd be worried if I was kickstarter at this point...", and as I went to reply to that, they deleted their comment.

But it's spot-on.

Short term, this is going to bring a lot of publicity and attention towards kickstarter, and that will also benefit the projects on there. If you'd like to launch something via kickstarter, now is the time to do it.

Because, odds are, what these guys roll out just isn't going to live up to the $100,000+ raised for it, and when that happens, that's going to reflect badly on kickstarter. I would guess that potential donors will be far more critical of future kickstarter projects; the foremost question on those projects is going to be, "Is this another Diaspora?"

The funding for this thing stopped being about getting this project off the ground, and has started being about a protest against Facebook. There's more than enough money in there to launch Diaspora now. People are donating now just to moon Facebook, and that's gonna end up hurting kickstarter later.

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icey 1442 days ago | link

Sorry, that was me. I thought a little bit more about it and decided that I was mostly wrong.

The people who donate money on Kickstarter aren't donating with the expectation of a real return. In a sense, they're "voting with their wallet". I don't think people give Diaspora $20 bucks thinking "hey, this is going to be a Facebook killer!", I think they will donate with the idea that they'd like to see someone give it a go.

Sorry for being so bipolar about it; I figured I'd delete the comment before having to defend a position I no longer agreed with.

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someone_here 1442 days ago | link

Making a comment, deleting it, and then replying to a comment that agreed with it stating that what they are agreeing with you upon is wrong is an interesting way of creating an argument.

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icey 1442 days ago | link

And now everyone will know my secret shame of not being able to make up my mind.

I still don't think it's great for Kickstarter, but I don't think it's as big an issue as I initially did. I was hoping nobody had seen my comment, but they did; and I wanted to explain the reason I deleted my comment.

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neilk 1442 days ago | link

I don't think it's a shame at all. You should take pride that you're trying to construct well-reasoned arguments, and in the course of that, sometimes you change your mind. Only cranks and trolls never have that experience.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

That's why it would be great to have a 'preview' button the initial form is pretty small to work in and it is very easy to miss something before clicking 'reply'.

It sure encourages brevity though.

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Jun8 1442 days ago | link

"The best way to know you have a mind is to change it" Judge Pierre Leval

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edw519 1442 days ago | link

I would guess that potential donors will be far more critical of future kickstarter projects

Good.

Those of us who are serious, with actual working code and real customers, welcome the extra scrutiny. No one ever said that Darwinism was painless.

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OliverSmith 1442 days ago | link

being critical of future kickstarter projects would be good, but being critical of kickstarter in general could be bad

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inmygarage 1442 days ago | link

I disagree. For Kickstarter, I think this is what the "Paris Hilton cell phone hack" was for Digg. It has proved their model and their platform and will mainstream their service. Only good things for them - I actually think Kickstarter is the big winner in this entire situation, Diaspora is now saddled with sadly unreasonable expectations.

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neurotech1 1442 days ago | link

Maybe Kickstarter need to introduce "milestone" payments. This concept is used for freelancer.com and similar website.

eg. If the total is over $5,000 then the first $5k is cleared as normal, and any additional funds are delivered on meeting a milestone.

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billturner 1442 days ago | link

I'm not clear on how this will damage Kickstarter's reputation. They're only hosting the project's donation collection system.

They could have put up a simple webpage with a "Donate Now" button linking to Paypal to collect funds. Would that have made Paypal look bad? Or their web hosts's reputation?

As for "Is this going to be another Diaspora," I'm not sure I would totally connect the Diaspora project to Kickstarter - unless it was Kickstarter writing the software that wasn't delivered (in the worst case scenario).

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

For many people this will be their first exposure to kickstarter. First experience a negative one for a now very high profile project might damage the kickstarter brand.

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rjett 1442 days ago | link

It seems like it would be an easy fix for Kickstarter to just let users implement a voluntary cap on total donated money.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

It isn't over until the fat lady sings.

But if I were them I'd shut down the pledge site now, thank everyone and say that if after the launch they feel they need more funding they'll do a second round.

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mrduncan 1442 days ago | link

There really isn't any motivation to shut it down now though as far as I can tell. It seems like they're getting money with essentially no strings attached - might as well get it now while it's easy to get.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

That's true. But they would come over a lot more credible (at least to me, that may be different for others). I you've misjudged your initial funding requirement by more than 10:1 you are already showing that you've done something wrong, so since they've received what they said they needed the logical next step would be to put up some proof they can deliver.

Like that expectations stay within the realm of the feasible.

On another note, this funding round is feeding off the facebook name recognition, not on the track record of these people.

Everybody loves an underdog.

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anigbrowl 1442 days ago | link

But Jacques, they haven't misjudged their original funding requirement - at worst, they've underestimated potential early investor/market interest in the product they are proposing to create.

I do see two problems here.

1. Diaspora is now awash in money - which might go to their heads or not, but which in any case creates new, non-code responsibilities for them. $100k is not chump change, and you can't just stick it into a petty cash box. As soon as Kickstarter transfers it to a bank account, being greater than $10k it will trigger an automatic report from the bank to the IRS. So before they write any more code, the Diaspora team need to hire a lawyer and create a trust or some other appropriate legal vehicle...might I suggest our own grellas?

2. For Kickstarter, this raises questions of how funding is managed. Now, most things on there offer a straight trade - send me $1 and I'll send you an mp3 of my new song after I've bought the guitar I need, or whatever. It's a sales contract, basically. However, it's not obvious what the terms of this contract are - for example, their FAQ doesn't address the question of what happens if the project owner doesn't buy the guitar but flees to Lichtenstein instead. I'm guessing recourse and other issues are governed by the terms of the Amazon payments agreement (https://payments.amazon.com/sdui/sdui/about?nodeId=6019), but Kickstarter need to address this upfront to avoid potential heartache, especially given that they allow projects to solicit commitments of up to $10k. Sooner or later some project will fail in such a way that a donor feels victimized and there will be blowback for Kickstarter. Given the large amount of money involved here, it would be a good idea for them to clarify the legal context in which donations take place. I find it surprising that they don't have any stated policy about donations exceeding the requested amount - though given the usual difficulty faced by artists begging for money, they probably haven't had to confront it seriously before. Most projects that overshoot their target do so by a fraction, not multiples.

Incidentally, Kickstarter's own rules do not allow a project creator to halt the project early, so even if Diaspora want to shut off the flow of donations, they can't.

Disclosure: I kicked them some $ too.

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psyklic 1440 days ago | link

It seems to me that their FAQ tries to get around the question of what happens if a project isn't completed. Specifically, it says the project manager is "expected" to cancel funding. Otherwise, it might lead to "damage to your reputation" or even "legal action on behalf of your backers."

However, I bet that "canceling funding" may not even be possible. Most founders will transfer the money from Amazon to their bank account. Even then, a project's viability may not even be obvious for another year so I doubt chargebacks could occur.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

as to 1) Yes, agreed fully, a trust is the way to go. Grellas would be awesome.

2) Kickstarter will likely learn as much from this particular event as anybody (including the diaspora team), they have seen their model validated in a way that you can only dream of when you run a service like that with a ton of free publicity to boot. If diaspora is only marginally successful that would be enough, but they should be careful to show their independence from the project.

I'm going to watch this very closely in the next couple of months, it is imo the biggest story in the year to date with respect to start-up financing.

I sincerely wish those kids the best of luck, they'll need it. Their biggest problems will be that they will be sitting on a significant sum of money and that alone will attract all kinds of sharks, which is not good when you're a goldfish.

I've suggested they apply to YC, that's one of the ways in which they could get the expertise they need in order to at least make it to a launch of sorts. They'll be in dire need of people they can trust.

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nirai 1442 days ago | link

Shutting it down? are you for real?

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Yes, absolutely. They initially asked for $10K. They now have 10 times as much.

To pause the contribution round now and to show they can deliver would help them in avoiding the enormous risk of as someone else here already mentioned of becoming 'the next cuil'.

Hype is a double-edged sword, it's great when you have it but you only get one shot at delivering and in an overhyped situation that is much harder than in one where expectations are still realistic. The more money they pull in the more this will be overhyped, the bigger the chance of a public disappointment when they launch.

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nirai 1442 days ago | link

By your logic, a person winning the lottery should cap at 100K and say no thanks, I rather not piss of my friends family and colleges.

Most likely the public interest in this project will die out within 1-3 months. Hopefully they will not ruin their future lives endlessly trying to reproduce this incredibly lucky strike.

But while their at it, they should get as MUCH as they possibly can and totally and shamelessly go for it, hacking, hiring other people to work with them, getting drunk in parties at the other side of the globe, whatever...

Giving that money back saying they are afraid to disappoint some anonymous crowd would be totally nuts.

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anigbrowl 1442 days ago | link

It's not about personal morality, but legal responsibility. For example, just what are their tax and commercial obligations right now? You can't just hand the IRS a copy of the GPL; a large sum of money like this will require them to spend some time and $ just to document and report it correctly so it doesn't get treated like a scam.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

If they're smart they put the money in a foundation that can only be used for the project in a constructive way.

If they go getting drunk at parties on the other side of the globe there is a chance they'll kill kickstarter as collateral damage besides their own project.

Taking in funding - even if it is 'throw-away' cash - comes with a responsibility, this is not a 'lottery', and the crowd is not anonymous.

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alex_c 1442 days ago | link

Because of the context, I parsed that as "if I were [Kickstarter] I'd shut down the pledge site now", and was having a hard time following your reasoning. Assuming you meant Diaspora, your point is a lot more reasonable.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Diaspora, for sure.

Sorry, that reference could have been more clear.

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ghshephard 1442 days ago | link

This is a once-in-a-lifetime no repeatable event. And the money is really not that significant in the whole scheme of things for four people over a summer. Now, if they could get it to go over $400k, then it would be substantial.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

At the current rate they're pulling in money they are less than 8 days away from $400K, if they get more mainstream press it might happen quicker than that.

If the media hype dies down it will probably freeze fairly quickly, but the media is loving this story so far.

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madmaze 1442 days ago | link

hmm but the question is if they can shut it down while still keeping the money. maybe with this money they can expand their team and develop faster and better.

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bcardarella 1442 days ago | link

This is going to be the most overhyped and underwhelming web project ever. This entire group looks like they have vaporware written all over them.

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javery 1442 days ago | link

If I was a journalist I would start stalking them right now, it's going to make a great cover story or book in 12 months whichever way it goes.

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milod 1442 days ago | link

Is anyone else mildly depressed by the inequality between money raised and reality here?

It's great that these guys are raising money, I'm all for it. They should take what they can get. But, what about all the brilliant open source projects out there, that people are actually enjoying and using today, not sponsored by large organizations that accept donations from the community. I'm willing to bet that _none_ of them have raised even close to this much money. It saddens me that society is more willing to financially support a statement than something actually useful and real.

Perhaps this turn of events was destined to happen eventually and these lucky guys hit the media jackpot. I still can't be happy about it.

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synnik 1442 days ago | link

Is it great that these guys are raising money?

I don't know them, but if the issue is a major fundraising effort to replace Facebook, I would think that selecting teams to implement the new system would need some serious due diligence.

Should someone raise money? Absolutely. Is it these guys? I honestly do not know. More information is needed...

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jeebusroxors 1442 days ago | link

The fact that more information is needed makes me lean towards the "no" side of the house.

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roc 1442 days ago | link

Strikes me as not too far off the inequality between "good products" and "successful products" in general. Books, movies, commodities, software -- why should fund-raising be any different?

It's a shame, but I'm pretty numb to the phenomenon at this point.

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orblivion 1442 days ago | link

This is about demand. As happy as certain open source projects are making people, people are willing to pay for the hope of seeing an alternative to Facebook.

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pstinnett 1442 days ago | link

Is that necessarily the case though? I'm hoping to see a lot more open source projects popping up on Kickstarter. While I'm not donating to Diaspora* (yet) I think I would be happy to donate to plenty of open source projects and Kickstarter seems to be a great platform for collecting those donations.

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dustrider 1442 days ago | link

kickstarter isn't about donations, it's supposed to be about microfinancing startups. They are investments.

I'm with GP, these guys wouldn't get an inch with any angel or VC's so why are the general populace giving them their money? just because it's $20 it doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it in the same way as a $20000 investment. A punt is a punt, but you don't put money on a statement, that's what lobby groups are for.

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anigbrowl 1442 days ago | link

Ah, they are explicitly not investments, so as not to fall afoul of securities laws. Kickstart donors get exactly zero property interest in any IP - check the FAQ. It's a sales outlet for custom products offered on a promissory basis.

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andreyf 1442 days ago | link

Well, if nothing else, this is certainly proof of an innovative fundraising strategy. Why sell equity in your company when you can appeal to masses of tiny investors with a "battling evil" story? I don't think Facebook has anything to worry about from a product perspective, but from a PR perspective, this shows that a lot of people hate them enough to put money down.

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natrius 1442 days ago | link

This isn't trivially reproducible.

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rue 1442 days ago | link

I will be highly impressed if the project produces anything.

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WesleyJohnson 1442 days ago | link

Am I the only one that finds this statement distasteful? I would understand if you said the project looks like it has vaporware written all over it, but saying the "group" looks like they have vaporware written all over "them" suggests you're basing your opinion on their physical appearance. I expected more out of HN.

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varjag 1442 days ago | link

The same guys who said "we are four talented programmers" in their statement? There is certain feel of grandeur oozing from them, and no deliveries yet.

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Emore 1442 days ago | link

I wouldn't give them a dime, at this point. They don't even have a proof of concept, and giving them more money than they ask for is certainly counter-productive.

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TallGuyShort 1442 days ago | link

Related to the whole Facebook fiasco, I just found this. I wonder how credible it is - that information is hard to verify. Basically, Zuckerburg allegedly IM'd his friend, and called early Facebook adopters "dumb fks" for trusting him with their information.

http://www.businessinsider.com/well-these-new-zuckerberg-ims...

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

If it's true one more reason to be very wary what you put in writng, even if it is just an IM message.

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orblivion 1442 days ago | link

Yeah what a dumb fk

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Kilimanjaro 1442 days ago | link

To the naysayers, even if they don't deliver, this undoubtedly proves there is place for a facebook competitor.

And lots of people with money to back it up.

To facebook, you just jumped the shark. Perhaps you will never die, but your days are counted as king of the social web.

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bjplink 1442 days ago | link

All this proves is that a bunch of nerds got caught up in an open source telethon and gave some money. I highly doubt anyone at Facebook gives a damn... especially if they've watched the "pitch" video in which these guys come off like a bunch of 18 year old goofballs.

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WesleyJohnson 1442 days ago | link

And how do you propose Mark Zuckerburg came off to his friends when he first started talking about writing a website to get pics of girls (if that story is indeed accurate)? Probably like a horny college nerd.

I'll admit the likelyhood of them succeeding in dethroning Facebook could probably be measured with several zeroes after a decimal point, but I don't believe that has anything to do with their personalities. Mabe I'm naive?

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Enough people are pledging different stuff besides just money to give them a serious amount of resources to use, all it takes is for one or two experienced systems architects from the big G, skype or some other project to hop on board and they're going to get a lot more legs. Diasporas biggest negative asset at this point is the egos of the founders, judging by their videos. But then again, who wasn't cocky at 18.

They're by no means a contender right now in the eyes of the tech world, but if I were Zuckerberg I'd take notice of what happens when you fuck people over often enough and what kind of grass roots resistance can materialize out of thin air.

There seems to be a limit to consumer patience when it comes to things like this and that makes me happy.

All FB has to do to take the wind out of diaspora's sails is to announce they got the message and that they'll default all privacy settings to 'opt-in' from now on and apologize.

I doubt that will happen though.

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tptacek 1442 days ago | link

This is the second time in this thread (which I am kicking myself for reading) that someone has intimated that Diaspora is just a couple of Google developers away from being big.

No.

If Facebook was 2, 10, or 100 top-caliber Google engineers away from a serious challenge, Google would already be seriously challenging Facebook. Google is a CS-hiring force of nature.

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loup-vaillant 1442 days ago | link

Even if Google could do something like Diaspora at near zero cost, they wouldn't. Their goals are opposite.

Diaspora is meant to be a mean of decentralization, just like Wordpress. Google is a mean of centralization, just like Facebook. Diaspora founders would love to see the ubiquity of Sheeva plugs (or whatever cheap home server we could get). Google would hate it: that would mean the death of most of their online services. Only the fundamentally centralized ones, like search, would be left. Gmail, Blogger, YouTube… would mostly die. (I'm aware of the asymmetric bandwidth issue. But if Sheeva plugs are ubiquitous, bandwidth will be symmetric anyway.)

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Diaspora at this point in time is a signal, not a contender.

I think facebook, for the next couple of years is unassailable, but they should definitely take note.

The facebook brand has been damaged in the last couple of weeks, and the hype around diaspora is damaging it further.

That's the only way in which this will have effect. If they pull it off though (even if they just ship) I'll tip my hat to them.

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tptacek 1442 days ago | link

You didn't address my comment at all; you just repeated the same point you've been making everywhere else about Facebook.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

I re-read your comment and I don't see where you pick up that diaspora is a couple of google developers away from being big.

They are going to get more 'legs' is not the same as being big. The only thing that I try to convey there is that if they would get a couple of high profile people on board is that the project will gain a lot of legitimacy in the eyes of the the press and the blogs and that will give them yet another round of exposure.

I did not at all mean to imply that they would be 'big' because of that, there are far too many factors against them to even give them a fighting chance. If they play all their cards right they might be a niche player, if there is some kind of act-of-god then they might get a lot bigger. But taking on facebook at this stage is like taking on google or microsoft.

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orblivion 1442 days ago | link

All FB has to do to take the wind out of diaspora's sails is to announce they got the message and that they'll default all privacy settings to 'opt-in' from now on and apologize.

I would still give them the finger, I don't trust Mark to keep it that way.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Facebook will be the king of the social web for a long time to come. That is maybe not very comforting but I really don't see how it could be otherwise.

They're about to become the #1 website. They have issues, mostly PR problems at this stage, but for every person that has left FB in the last couple of months a much larger number has signed up.

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andreyf 1442 days ago | link

This seems like a great opportunity for Google to "donate" some senior talent to the project, blow this up into a fully functioning platform (optionally backed up on Google's servers), and one-punch KO Facebook.

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hyperbovine 1442 days ago | link

and one-punch KO Facebook

Wha?

A bunch of geeks living in the echo chamber are pissed about a privacy issue, so they all cruise over to a geeky website, and toss in $20 of their geek-inflated disposable income, to a vaporware project whose popularity is mostly due to politics. Meanwhile, in the time it took me to write this, ten million people logged in to Facebook.

Methinks a little perspective is in order here.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Exactly. All this amounts to at this stage is a signal to facebook. A powerful signal, absolutely. But not by any stretch of the imagination a threat.

If they deliver somewhere in the fall and if it starts to draw significant traffic and if they don't have a big security breach themselves, and if there is no falling out between the four founders then they might be a contender.

But that's a lot of ifs.

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rick_2047 1442 days ago | link

I was just wondering is the 100k worth the powerful signal.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

> I was just wondering is the 100k worth the powerful signal.

Don't you mean the opposite?

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rick_2047 1442 days ago | link

No I don't. Not many people care about there privacy (otherwise facebook would have been bust). And even if they had pledged 200% or 300% that would have been enough to send a strong signal but 1088% of pledging is just not right.

There could have been so much more done with the other 80k. So many other things need money.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Ah, I get you now, sorry.

I don't know if it is not 'right', the signal function would have been just as strong if they would have set their original goal at $100K and people would have sent them that much $.

In some ways the $amount is a value that collapses a number of underlying elements to a single number, the amount of frustration around facebook privacy, the people that simply wish these kids luck and there are a number of people that hate facebook enough to put up a substantial amount of $.

Which portion of that $100K ($109K already, $4500 per hour right now) comes from the 'signal' portion is hard to tell.

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nirai 1442 days ago | link

Why would Google "donate" senior talent to a project which at this point is basically just some videos and badly designed logos for download?

Comments here are as insane as the amount of money these guys collected.

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canadaduane 1442 days ago | link

Success is an outlier outcome achieved by people who are initially indistinguishable from the insane.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

That is just plain poetic.

Did you come up with that yourself ?

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canadaduane 1442 days ago | link

I'm glad it's "plain poetic" and not "plain pathetic" (as I initially read that sentence!) Thanks. Yes, it's my own.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Ok, neat. I've passed it on to DanielBMarkham for inclusion in his quotes library.

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derwiki 1442 days ago | link

I really doubt it would be that easy to KO Facebook. Remember Orkut? Google is great at a lot of things, but building online communities is not one of them. Also, as has been pointed out in other discussions: most Facebook users don't care and aren't going to leave unless there's a compelling reason. A lot of their photos are already locked into Facebook -- it's going to take a lot to show them a greener pasture, and I doubt "better privacy" is going to be one of them.

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BoppreH 1442 days ago | link

Orkut is just not popular in your country.

Here in Brazil it wasn't until last year that people started even knowing what Facebook/Myspace is.

The social rule around here is Orkut + MSN Messenger. Unfortunately it led to a wave of "@hotmail" emails, but that's another thing.

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derwiki 1442 days ago | link

I'm not saying Orkut isn't popular anywhere, but by any metric it's not as popular as Facebook is globally.

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BoppreH 1442 days ago | link

It's just that your "Remember Orkut?" remark made it sound like it wasn't even around anymore.

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Here in the Netherlands we have 'hyves', and until last year 'hyves' was pretty much 'it'.

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/hyves.nl

says it all.

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ErrantX 1442 days ago | link

Google provides for consumers. From the spec of this project it is an interesting idea - but I don't think it will be a consumer project/site/resource like Facebook is (i.e. it won't pass the "dumb blonde" test).

(on the other hand there may be some interesting technical ideas they would find useful - so perhaps from that perspective...)

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jgrahamc 1442 days ago | link

Colour me unimpressed. Show me the code!

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mkramlich 1442 days ago | link

What I don't understand about Diaspora is why can't one guy just start hacking out his own "distributed Facebook" replacement today. No team needed (not at start.) No money needed. Use F/OS/OTS software, all the pieces are just laying there. Actually I wouldn't be surprised if there were already several people out there doing exactly this already, but without the PR splash made by Diaspora.

Ok, maybe I've just answered my own question. It's only about the PR splash!

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neurotech1 1442 days ago | link

The money requested ($10,000) was intended as a summer sipend. I doubt that a single programmer can write the code in 3 months, while paying the bills.

In other words, $10,000 means they can work on this all summer without needing a job to support them.

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adamhowell 1442 days ago | link

Source for "and all of Kickstarter's records" bit:

http://twitter.com/waxpancake/status/13922920432

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Maro 1442 days ago | link

Success is all about incentives. In this case, by the end the kids probably end up with $100K-200K each. Perhaps the biggest incentive for them will be not to be those guys who got a jackload of money from donations and never delivered. Google remembers forever.

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Maro 1442 days ago | link

One thing I'd require in this donation model that they provide an online "billing" statement that shows (at least roughly) what they spent the money on.

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joubert 1442 days ago | link

What programming experience do the Diaspora guys have?

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

At their age? Not a whole lot. But then again, Zuckerberg was about that age when he built the first version of facebook.

It's not rocketscience. The problem is, there is facebook now.

And that sets the bar pretty high. Going up against the proverbial 800 pound gorilla makes for a great story but it will probably end in some squashed egos. The book rights will be worth something though :)

Just like duck-duck-go isn't going to overtake google tomorrow though, they might find a niche they can exploit.

Facebook exiles most likely.

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andymoe 1442 days ago | link

What they are proposing is significantly more difficult than what Facebook initially wrote. Facebook, at one point, was just another web app with a nice story for bootstrapping new users via the college networks. These guys are trying to build a distributed, secure, encrypted network on which to build social networking functionality. If they do it correctly it could be the basis for a whole lot more. And even if they don't work it out entirely as long as they release the source code it is a step in the right direction and others can continue to work on it or something similar.

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anigbrowl 1442 days ago | link

Well, GPG is fairly mature, and so is the BitTorrent protocol, which Bram Cohen launched at ~25. they're ambitious to be sure, but the basic concept is not that far out.

Anyway, they now have enough money to hire a competent programmer or two if they get stuck :)

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jacquesm 1442 days ago | link

Yes, but if they hire say cperciva or someone with credentials and experience like that I can see that part as 'solvable'.

The technology is doable, after all, skype was built by two guys on top of a library created to distribute mp3s.

If you look at the top of the pledge page they write "Decentralize the web", they do not specifically mention facebook, so they seem to be aware of the fact that this could be the basis for a whole lot more.

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orblivion 1442 days ago | link

I'm all excited about this too, but does anybody even know these kids? Is anybody out there vouching for so much as their ability to program? 10k is a nice thing to risk at them, but 100k is pushing it in my opinion. 100k towards "a decentralized social network" sounds good, but 100k towards one particular decentralized social network sounds like trouble. At least it'll be open source so somebody else can take it and fix it if they screw up.

On the other hand, perhaps this money is useful for the market signal in itself, that this sort of thing is in demand.

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DLarsen 1442 days ago | link

While I haven't followed this story all that closely, what makes people so confident that this particular project will have legs?

From a quick glance at the description of their effort, I wonder whether this will really be viable. My mom doesn't use FB for any other reason than that it's the most convenient way to send messages and pictures to friends. For her to move to anything else, it has to be easier. Try explaining to your mother-in-law that she needs to install a node.

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Kilimanjaro 1442 days ago | link

You don't have to "install" a node. You just use one provided by wordpress, posterous, tumblr, et al.

If you are a geek, then you roll your own.

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jeebusroxors 1442 days ago | link

I'm assuming this is the only "Facebook killer" that has been covered in the NYT? There has also been a bit of scrutiny of Facebook in the media.

I also suspect people are donating to the money, or the publicity of the donations and not the actual project - if that makes any sense at all.

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dfj225 1442 days ago | link

I'll be interested to see if, by the end of the summer, they have a working project and the turn-key hosting solution.

If they get this working, it'll be interesting to see what the adoption rates are. There might be some people with cash interested in using software such as this, but it still doesn't seem to have a draw beyond those with a deep knowledge of tech.

For instance, I'd wager that most Facebook users don't know what GPG is or care if it is being used or not.

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zach 1442 days ago | link

I'm entertaining myself with the notion that a great deal of this money is from Zuck himself, funneled in via small amounts in a fiendish Xanatos Gambit[1] to make the inevitable flameout more spectacular.

1 - http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit

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khangtoh 1442 days ago | link

With 10K , we hope to see something, with 100K, we expect to see something, with 1M, we better damn well get something.

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pclark 1442 days ago | link

I doubt this will hurt Facebook. I don't believe regular users on the whole care about privacy. Especially if you compare the value of Facebook (all my friends, photos, events, chat) vs privacy cost.

One interesting implementation they could strive for is rather than expecting users to host their own server, ask them for an AWS key and use that - that way Amazon handles all billing, uptime, etc.

Also the name blows, and they're self professed nerds - generally terrible at making a user experience for regular users.

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ashnyc 1442 days ago | link

I am happy they are getting this much money, but what is more interesting is to find out who is behind these guys. Who had the connection to the NYtimes, why did the story get picked up. They went from 0 to 3,000 followers in 1 day on twitter. http://twitter.com/joindiaspora I have done some analysis kickstarter fundraisers, and why some fundraisers go viral and others don't. here is a quick example, same subject but only one was able to raise money http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/search?term=obama

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UnknownSource 1442 days ago | link

I was personally going to donate to this project, but unfortunately, there seems to be little evidence that these guys actually are competent coders (not even code samples from their uni). So I fear that people are paying money simply because they hate Facebook, and that it may be mostly wasted.

I'd love to see this happen, but I do feel that there is a high risk that the end product may be garbage. So I urge people who want to donate to learn more about the boys first (a computer science degree doesn't necessarily guarantee that they even know basics such as proper multithreading or have ever touched sockets).

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