While I can understand why the latter camp wanted to build an ad-based business, the futurist in me thinks this was a tragic mistake. If you are building an advertising/media business, it would then follow that you need to own all of the screen real-estate that users see. The next logical step would be to kill all third-party clients, and lock down the data in the global [feed of all tweets] in order to control the "content".
Which is exactly what's happened and it's what, both Dalton and I believe, will kill both Twitter and Facebook and other ad-based social media.
The response to this post was huge and Dalton leveraged that to make a proposal which was:
I believe so deeply in the importance of having a financially sustainable realtime feed API and service that I am going to refocus App.net to become exactly that. I have the experience, vision, infrastructure and team to do it. Additionally, we already have much of this built: a polished native iOS app, a robust technical infrastructure currently capable of handing ~200MM API calls per day with no code changes, and a developer-facing API provisioning, documentation and analytics system. This isn't vaporware.
What the company was proposing was, as Gizmag put it, to be "to social media what Amazon Web Services is to the rest of the Web--a platform for you to build your application on".
To manifest this grand vision, we are officially launching a Kickstarter-esque campaign. We will only accept money for this financially sustainable, ad-free service if we hit what I believe is critical mass. I am defining minimum critical mass as $500,000, which is roughly equivalent to ~10,000 backers.
Buying in was and still is cheap: $50 for a year as a member (that's only $0.13 per day and no advertising to put up with) or $100 for a year as a developer ... and, lo and behold, people bought in!
By Aug. 11 some 7,513 backers had ponied up $508,200. Why? I think it's got a lot to do with App.net's "core values" which they explain on its home page:
" We are selling our product, NOT our users.
" You own your content.
" App.net employees spend 100% of their time improving our services for you, not advertisers.
" We respect and value our developer community.
" Our most valuable asset is your trust.
There's one more of their "core values" that I think really makes App.net different: