Would you pay to use Twitter? The newly social network App.net hopes that your answer is yes, proposing an ad-free alternative to existing social networking sites.
App.net hopes to make a change among social networking services, and thanks to a Kickstarter-like fundraiser it now has the financial backing to make it happen. Over 11,000 people donated to App.net raising over $762,000, well above its $500,000 goal.
But what are they investing in? A $50 donation earned backers a one-year membership to App.net, a new social service bearing a striking resemblance to Twitter. There is a key difference though, in that App.net is entirely user-supported, meaning it is ad-free and will never sell your information to advertisers.
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Why go ad-free?
App.net founder and CEO Dalton Caldwell believes that there is room for a paid social network, and that the subscription model will help the service better address the needs of its users.
"If we're selling a service, our customers are our users and our job is to make our users happy. If we have a free ad-supported service, our customers are advertisers and our job is to make advertisers happy."
"And so I think that a lot of the friction that we're seeing from these disappointing services are just a reflection that all the financial incentives have to do with pleasing the advertisers and not the user base."
"By really aligning our incentives with the people giving us money, I think it will let us have a much more innovative, reliable, and trustworthy service in the long term."
Next up for App.net
With funding accomplished, App.net can move forward with its alpha stage, and has already begun providing access to subscribers.
App.net is still very early, but has great potential as it grows both in user-base and in features to support its community. A paid service seems like a tricky proposition among the multitude of free alternatives, but the success of App.net's fundraiser shows that free may not be the only future for social sites.