The Pebble falls: A 'friendly' Twitter replacement closes its doors

When Elon Musk took over Twitter, numerous new social networks rose up. Now, one of them, Pebble, has thrown in the towel.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
sad pebble
Johannes Geyer/Getty Images

As soon as Elon Musk bought Twitter, new social networks, such as Bluesky, Post.News, Threads, and T2/Pebble, sprang up to challenge it. Other existing social networks, such as Mastodon, were revitalized. 

Today, while Twitter, recently renamed X, is in decline, there is still no strong front runner to challenge it. And now the first of the would-be Twitter replacements, T2, which changed its name to Pebble, has thrown in the towel. 

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Pebble was an early-stage, Twitter-like social network. Its goal was to become the "place to have the authentic conversations we've always wanted to have." Its founders, who were largely Twitter alumni, designed Pebble to look and feel like pre-Musk Twitter, with a 280-character limit and direct messaging. 

I rather liked it, but it appears I was in the minority. Pebble was always a bit rough around the edges, and it never made it past about 20,000 users.

Pebble profile
Screenshot by Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNET

In what was still a surprising announcement, Pebble revealed its plans to shut down operations on November 1, 2023.

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In a letter to users, Pebble said: "The painful truth, however, is that we were not growing quickly enough for investors to believe that we will break out. Combine that with a crowded space of alternatives -- and the uphill climb is even steeper. In order to continue to build out a complete Pebble, we would have needed more investment, and more time."

That was not to be -- and Pebble's backers ran out of money and time. 

A spokesperson for the platform stated: "While we are immensely proud of what we achieved with our dedicated team and an incredible community, the reality is that our growth rate was not meeting the expectations set by our investors." 

With the digital landscape burgeoning with alternative platforms, Pebble was competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace. 

As the platform prepares for its final curtain call, the team behind Pebble is shifting its focus to showing gratitude to its supportive community. They are exploring potential avenues to ensure that the connections formed on Pebble can continue in another guise. Further details are expected to be shared soon.

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Pebble is also enabling its members to download an archive of their public posts. 

Pebble never made it to mass popularity, but it will be missed. As one user wrote, Pebble felt "like it was one of the nicer corners of the internet. Thank you for all the hard work, and thank you for the past few months I've been able to be around." 

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