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:
We are operating a sustainable, predictable business. App.net will always have a clear business model. We know that depending on services that could go away or desperately squeeze users for more and more money is a toxic cycle.
All I can say is "Amen!" ... and apparently many others have as well because the attention App.net is now getting is huge.
Moreover, the list of third-party developers who have already built "stuff" on top of App.net is impressive and includes Web applications, Web services, libraries, command line tools, browser extensions, and applications running natively on iOS, Android, Windows, OS X, and Linux.
When the value the current major players offers to users fades away, as it will, eclipsed as it will be by an ever-growing constellation of increasingly intrusive advertising, it will be the rich ecosystem that's grown up around the level playing field of App.net that will offer the kind of social connectivity in a context that people really want and need.
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