App.net's radical social network strategy: charge money

Summary:Is a working social network worth paying for?

Would enough people be willing to pay money for a social-networking platform to make it work? Quite possibly. Around 17,500 users have already paid US$50 to join App.net.

Eight weeks ago, the Patch Monday podcast discussed Twitter's more aggressive enforcement of its display guidelines. We came to the conclusion that it could be damaging its ecosystem of developers at precisely the time when it needs to be seen increasing revenue.

Since then, Twitter has divided the developers using its application programming interface (API) into four quadrants. Applications are rated according to whether they're aimed at business or consumer users, and whether they're more about "engagement" or "analytics."

Twitter is now actively discouraging consumer-oriented tools designed for "engagement", such as traditional third-party client software. The move has proved controversial.

Meanwhile, technologist and entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell was encouraged by the response to his blog post "What Twitter could have been", and came up with what he called his audacious proposal: a subscription-based real-time social feed without ads.

Caldwell launched a Kickstarter-style 30-day fundraising campaign with a target of US$500,000. The target was exceeded. App.net raised US$803,000 from more than 12,000 backers. The platform now has 17,500 users and is growing steadily.

On this week's Patch Monday podcast, Caldwell explains why he developed App.net, how his team will work with third-party developers, and where the platform is headed.

You'll also hear his views on online anonymity, the current Silicon Valley bubble, and how some people have read a more sinister meaning into his subscription-based fnord service.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time 40 minutes, 45 seconds

Topics: Start-Ups

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

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