Everyone knew a year ago when they were acquihired that Posterous would be discontinued. Why do I say this? Well, Twitter's bread and butter is in 140 characters, if they wanted to look at branching out into micro-blogging they wouldn't need to acquire a company, of whom the majority of their customers already use Twitter. (It was borderline a zero-value gain for Twitter if you take out Posterous' talent)
As it stands now, Tumblr clearly won (Although there has been a few emerging startups of insignificant size. Soup.io is one that springs to mind that is currently in an accelerator). If you are looking for hosted solutions for your startup's blog (or you are at all technical), I'd genuinely think about using GitHub. Start to pull your posts from Posterous and use a static content generator. Jekyll / Punch / Middleman / Hyde / Korma / nanonc / Frank + (any of the other 10 static generators)..
The operative point from using services that generate static content is that you are always in control of your plain-text content. Just push your new post and GitHub will handle your site. If you are worried about traffic on your site or extended build periods (I believe GH does rate limit static sites, and as a comment below mentions, on infrequent occasions builds can take upwards of several hours) then you can still use any other solution... Push to Amazon S3 and proxy through Cloudfront, then you will have probably one of the fastest, geographically distributed blogs on the internet.
This was always happening... Especially when you consider that for the last 12 months I haven't seen a single new feature since they were acquired. I've logged in, see the same "Posterous has been acquired" header for the last 12 months.
Move on, and safeguard your future content.
Can you do a writeup/tutorial for your setup?
Sure. I can just open source the site after I remove some private stuff and improve the documentation a bit.
I have a similar site (my old web design partnership vertstudios.com) that already has an open source mirror, but it doesn't have source file inclusion or tags like my joequery site.
The article linked in the repo has information on setting up nginx and uwsgi when it comes time to run the thing live.
Keep in mind that my site's workflow isn't perfect by any stretch, but it's perfect for me. That was my main point.
Actually, Flask tutorial uses a blog application as example
It features Stvtle like blog post editing (distraction free), supports markdown and a draft system.
Flask is very cool too, though, and if you want your sites dynamic, I'd recommend it. I choose Hyde because my eventual goal is speed: I want to see how fast I can get a "real world" page to load.
1. Does not cost me anything
2. Lets me use my custom domain name
3. Gives me control over the generated HTML, but also gives me a starting point in the form of some decent looking themes .
4. Actually works (I'm looking at you, bitbucket).
5. Gives me control over my content. Github decides to close its service? No problem, I got all my content and its history in my local git repo, so I can migrate it to anything I think is better.
If there is another option that fulfills these criteria I would like to know.
Ah well. Guess I know what I'm doing this weekend.
I'd also assume that Twitter doesn't really care about what users or an abandoned blogging platform do now. I'm not saying that that's right, but it is what it is.
What confuses me is that rumor has it that Posterous was sold for $10m. I really don't understand that. That basically is treating all of posterous.com users/content as worthless, and just buying the team. And it appears that Twitter did think like that (considering that posterous.com is shutting down).
But my question is how many users did posterous have? What was their traffic like? Were they doing well, or were they a sinking ship and thus they sold? Or did Twitter offer much more than $10m (maybe stock options worth 30-40m more?)?
I'd like to know because I think it would be helpful for startups to understand this space (blogging, content creation) and what kind of business models work and what kind of traffic is needed to make a successful business.
So, if there is anybody with inside knowledge on this stuff, please speak up. I'd also love to hear directly from the Posterous co-founders. Please share your experiences.
As an outside observer, it's easy enough to realize that Posterous could have monetized but that doesn't really answer the question of whether they could have monetized _enough_ to pay their ongoing costs.
Most likely they were bleeding money at an extremely fast rate and probably running out, fast, which is why they sold for $10 million and over time under Twitter's wing weren't able to figure out a monetization strategy that would be worth the ongoing costs of running the business. The case is even more convincing once you consider the opportunity cost of keeping high-quality talent away from Twitter.
They COULD have monetized, theoretically, but not once the die was cast.
Yes, lots of people have built CMS platform businesses where they charged money. But Posterous was probably, as you say, bleeding money, because they were not designed from day 1 to subsist on $12-49/mo subscriptions.
The choice of the "grow big or go home" model of startup results in a catch-22 when you cannot grow big, nor do you want to go home. The only thing you can fall back on is (if you're lucky) a 7 or very low 8 digit acquihire. Which is what this always has appeared to be:
If Posterous is the biggest competitor to Tumblr, it seems that says Tumblr has no real competition.
I'm curious if they were experiencing a growth stall or even negative growth before selling. Because if they were growing, I don't understand why they would sell and abandon their product unless the offer was ridiculously high.
As an aside, Tumblr is apparently having financial troubles (this seems to be speculation based on supposed leaked investor feelings) and Tumblr is huge compared to what Posterous is (especially when you look at how Tumblr cornered the social side of micro blogging and Posterous hadn't).
Having 10 million users is appealing to investors because there's the chance that they might turn into revenue in the future but for a company like Twitter that already has most of those users using their service they're probably not worth very much at all.
Posterous could have been stuck in the stage before becoming a proper business, it could be a fantastic service that tens of millions of users loved but if there's no way to move those users into revenue generating users their most valuable asset could have been the team.
I do give them a lot of credit for providing a means to export data (albeit a somewhat clunky one), because way too many services simply shut down without providing a reasonable way to get your data out.
Will also be interesting to see what the "key initiatives" that Posterous will be doing at Twitter are: http://blog.twitter.com/2012/03/welcoming-posterous-team-to-...
The XML file in our export can be uploaded to Wordpress.
If you want we could discuss keeping it alive rather than shutting it down (like what I've been doing with http://www.Reocities.com/).
I don't like large gaping holes in the web.
When a startup shuts down a product, they can donate the domain name or point it to the mirror to keep it alive.
Something like archive.org, with some donated servers and a couple of people working on it.
Twitter and other acquirers usually only want the team, and this is happening more and more. We are losing large parts of the web. I wouldn't be surprised if less than 1% of Posterous is exported and goes to live on in other forms. Either way the URLs and links all die.
Make static backups of these sites using their sitemaps and then ask them to donate or point their domains
 https://posterous.com/sitemap.xml (warning: 1.5MB)
How was that "incredible", BTW? I feel I've read that same story many many times.
As a Posterous user, I'm so glad I used my own domain.
They left their users out to dry, and instead of telling them (us) that they are sorry and that maybe they understand our situation of being burned yet again, they sound like they're very happy with themselves, "building features to help [us] discover and share what’s happening in the world – on an even larger scale".
I don't even know what that means.
You may argue that the world doesn't end with Posterous shutting down, and you'd be right. But the tone of that post is not ok.
With the current trend towards people posting one-off or irregular essays instead of full-featured blogs, it seems as if they veered away from the simple email posting route too soon.
What was once an interesting approach to blogging was pivoted into a samey metaservice with nothing notable for me.
IMHO, as a product, this is where they lost their way. This is when I stopped caring. Yet maybe this is where they had to go for a successful exit (read $$$). I don't know.
I'm sorry to see them go.
It's based off of Jekyll but handles a lot of the boilerplate, including rake tasks to deploy to Github pages. I've been following the github/octopress project for awhile and have seen a lot of activity in the past few weeks, so hopefully version 2.1 is just around the corner.
edit: Also, as a Tumblr user (for my photoblog), I would not recommend using Tumblr for those who are into technical/indepth writing. The set of HTML you can use is limited...for example, I don't think tables are allowed. Its social network of sharing is also more suited toward visual blogs, not ones of deep content.
Has anyone tackled this in either project??
Yes, I do remember that years ago I read about a static web management system that was makefile-centric, but think it lost popularity as more advanced CMS's came out.
Also I have trouble thinking about how a makefile can help you manage the 'Prev' and 'Next" attributes on a page. This is, not only make HTML from the page I just generated, but also go back to the previous writeup and update it to add a 'Next' link to it.
Coming soon: full API (someone's already building an iOS app on it), anonymous posting, authenticating against Twitter (not just Persona), Flattr integration.
No ads _ever_, monetization through Flattr, and I may eventually do a full open-source release. (My business is in training and consulting, not in running websites.)
I wonder if we studied funded start ups over the last 10 years, whether we'll see a pattern of selling out and then discontinuing service.
But I think a part of me would hate to see my blood, sweat and tears poured down the drain by a large company intent on remaining where they are (not that Twitter did exactly this but you get my meaning).
But I quickly understood that their service wasn't meant to improve at all. Every problem I reported to them was dismissed (directly or indirectly). So I created following page to warn the others.
I thought about the idea of posting via (plain-text) mail seriously, but they weren't sharing my mindset.
I left posterous long time ago (well, my CNAME still points there, have to fix it...) and I see it was a wise decision.
Rule #0 of the internet: you have to constantly backup it!
Posterous may not have found a way to make money but the site was definitely meant to improve IMHO. Email, Groups, Spaces, slideshows, sharing to multiple social networks -- the list goes on.
Meanwhile, I'll bring my own. Posterous was moderately responsive at most, but e-mail responsiveness and fixing/improving the site and its functionality are different things. Even CEO may be responding to my mails, but it means nothing if it doesn't change a bit of the outcome. I guess the problem was that they had their own vision and roadmap paved with features that will have the biggest impact. They were simply unwilling to pay attention to anything else. It would be fine, really, if they stated it clearly from the beginning.
1. Initially Suyash responded to my first mail (appraisal; asking for markdown inline images, feedburner mybrand and introduction of commenting system such as intense debate). It looked like:
"Thanks for your wonderful email and detailed feedback. I'll pass on some of your suggestions to the team."
2. Second thread (Identi.ca autopost and unwanted location disclosure) didn't get any response.
3. Third thread (wrong URL of the post being previously private and with the title changed before becoming publicized, i.e. premature public URL generation)
"We'll look into changing this behavior in a future update."
4. Fourth thread (<!--more--> doesn't work with markdown, editor doesn't switch to markdown mode immediately, even though the post was written in markdown, no setting for making markdown the default mail posting style) didn't get any response.
5. In my mail starting the fifth thread (1 month later) I collected existing problems. Response, this time from Rick:
re commenting system - "Very few have asked for this, so it is unlikely that we will implement without a lot more support."
re url prematurely created - "I'm not sure I understand your question."
re edit in markdown mode immediately - "this is in our queue"
re <!--more--> equivalent in markdown - "I will check on status of this to make sure it is added the next time we update this feature"
re automarkdown mail - "this is in our queue"
re markdown inline images - "this is in our queue"
My response got no response, so 3 weeks later I asked about any progress.
"Unfortunately, no meaningful progress - these are on our list, but not yet high enough on the priority queue for us to work on yet."
I ask again 2.5 months later.
"Your requests are still on our feature list, but not many people have requested them so they are not prioritized very highly. We're a small team with a lot still to add and are trying to focus on the features that will have the biggest impact."
Finally I was so frustrated that I suggested working myself on some of bugs/lacking features (free of charge, maybe t-shirt or something) as they are mostly easy to implement. I wrote also that it's sad that identi.ca problem was not solved.
"Thanks so much for your offer to help - to clarify, we did look at the identica problem and it's on our list too. Unfortunately, we can't easily open up our code to outside developers right now."
I mailed them no more, as you know, it was pointless.
For some time there was a forum available, when people reported their problems, bugs, etc. It was all the same - "it's in our queue, but not high enough."
Be honest - if you don't want to fix reported problems and hear about even simple enhancements, as you won't implement them how trivial they are (because it doesn't fit into your vision or whatever, I don't know), just say it clearly in public (on the page) or at least private (in the first response, I wouldn't bother you anymore).
The tragedy of the present times is mediocrity in everything, but software and web services in particular. Let's add some new flashy features no matter how buggy the rest is. Hopefully laymen will think that it supposed to be like that and technicians can be ignored - they are negligible minority.
Even with all this, it is completely confusing to me seeing it sold to Twitter and just shutting down service.
I personally will not believe to use any service made by those guys, especially Posthaven looks ridiculous in light of how Posterous got miss-managed.
Having said all this, I am not judging founders for selling out, I think they did a good thing and it is their absolutely their right, probably could've gotten way more from someone else, but it's their decision, as online user, I just can't touch anything they make.
Oh the irony. Karma's a bitch, huh?
OK, it's not for everyone. Initial setup certainly wasn't for the faint of heart. But it was fun and replacing my host is as easy as finding another cheap host for text files and jpegs. It was worth it to me.
That might sound obvious, but it works and it's easy to setup. I left Posterous after they launched Spaces and went back to hosting my own Wordpress install. I host about 20 low traffic sites on a single Bluehost.com shared server that costs under $100 per year. Never had any issues. One click Wordpress install via SimpleScripts. It really doesn't get any easier.
Hosting companies come and go, do whatever they please with your data.
Nothing like having as much control as possible.
Sadly this is not possible for non-technical users.
My first regularly updated site in 96 was updated by hand; then I created a daily news site that was custom-roll; then I moved to Movable Type; then I custom-rolled again; somewhere in there I tried Drupal (for a year or so, not just a dalliance); then I used whatever RoR blogging engine was popular; then I got real and moved to Wordpress several years ago and haven't regretted it for more than a couple seconds, here and there. And those seconds of regret were more than made up for by the lack of crap I had to do myself. (And, naturally, nobody can shut MY wordpress blog down since I ran it on my own server and now WPEngine.)
The difference this time is that we'll be 100% sustainable, and we are pledging to keep the site online forever. It's just me and Brett coding it right now.
Forever is longer than a lifetime and we've seen how well just simple "lifetime" hosting promises go.
I know that this may be good for founders, but it let me against trying new companies which doesn't have a clear monetization strategy.
This is where we post about new features on Posterous Spaces. You can get a Posterous Space just like this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or signing up for a new account.
Best replacement, wordpress?
Need to 301 everything :/