After a successful fundraising campaign, App.net launched in 2012 as a member-supported Twitter-like social network.
That makes a ton of sense, as App.net was born during a period of distrust around Twitter. Many of my geeky friends flocked to it, hoping to re-kindle the magic of 2007-era Twitter. While I think that did happen to an extent, the reality is that App.net could probably never really rival Twitter.
App.net’s leadership recognized this early on, and have been working for years to grow App.net into something much broader. As a result, App.net has grown over the years, and now has several core services:
- Alpha — The original Twitter-like interface.
- Backer — A flexible crowd-funding platform
- Broadcast — A push notification service for publishers
In addition to these three components, App.net offers private messaging, online file storage, an extensive API and more. All that said, the backbone — and main interface — of App.net for most users is Alpha.
And that’s why I didn’t renew my paid membership. I really like the App.net guys — and have spent time with several of them in San Francisco — but at this point, it’s hard to see where things are going. Broadcast and the other components are all well-done, and there’s some nice apps being built on top of the API, but all I really use it for is manually cross-posting stuff from Twitter every once in a while.
I understand that App.net is being grown into an entire platform, but that’s a hard thing to sell.
I hope App.net does well. I’ll still be checking in from time to time, and I think at some point I’ll re-subscribe as a paying member, but for now, I have a hard time seeing the return on that investment.