App.net is funded, but will it find success?

Social media startup App.net recently met it’s $500,000 funding goal via an in-house crowdfunding portal.  Founder Dalton Caldwell and his team of developers hope to provide an alternative for social media users who have become disenchanted with the current platforms and their laser focus on making advertisers happy.  Caldwell offers his theory that this focus on advertiser ROI is misaligned with the goal of generating value for users.  By charging a membership fee, Caldwell argues the goals of the platform will be aligned with those of the users and resources can be used in a way that provides faster end user benefit.

App.net will charge $50/year for membership and $100/year for developer API access, and the hope is that revenue will sustain the company in the absence of any advertiser presence.

App.net designer Ian Mintz posted this early screenshot to his Dribbble portfolio

This isn’t the first time that Twitter discontent has helped generate a similar competing product.  In late 2010 four NYU students released Diaspora, an open-source social networking platform that shares many core features with Twitter, such as @replies and #hashtags.  The Diaspora Project home page cites privacy concerns as one of the critical factors that led to the creation of the project.

In outlining his company’s plan, Caldwell specifically mentioned the expectation that Twitter will harshly restrict access to their now-famous API, a move that has shook things up from Internet comment threads to the Twitter board room.

This early App.net screenshot seem to suggest a user experience extremely similar to Twitter.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Jack Dorsey must be blushing somewhere.  We will all have to wait and see whether or not this high-profile paid social network will have the staying power Caldwell expects it to have.


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