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App.net, the social network that promised to beat Twitter at its own game, is shutting down. App.net will cease to exist on March 15th, 2017. However, the code at the heart of the site will be open-sourced, enabling someone else to take on the challenge of battling Twitter. Maybe.
In 2012, a social network called App.net launched. App.net was originally intended to be a platform for developers to showcase their applications, hence the name. However, founders Dalton Caldwell and Bryan Berg saw an opportunity to build a better version of Twitter, and App.net evolved.
Caldwell and Berg crowdfunded the creation of App.net, with 11,000 backers raising $750,000 for the fledgling company. Most of these backers paid $50 for a one-year subscription to App.net, which would, as a result, be completely free of ads.
By February 2013, App.net had become a freemium service, with a free tier being offered to people invited to join by a paying subscriber. As a result of this switch, by May 2013, App.net had grown to have 100,000 subscribers. But it was all downhill from here.
Keeping the Lights On Until the Money Ran Out
Despite the early enthusiasm, users stopped renewing their subscriptions. So much so that in May 2014, its founders voluntarily put App.net into maintenance mode. All paid employees were fired, with contractors essentially just keeping the lights on until the money ran out.
That has now happened, and so App.net will switch the lights off for good on March 15th, 2017. No new signups will be accepted, and any pending subscription renewals will be cancelled. All user data will be deleted, so you have until March 15th to export your data or lose it forever.
Caldwell and Berg are keeping the spirit of the site alive by open-sourcing the code behind App.net. This will all be available on the App.net GitHub page, and may inspire someone, somewhere to try something similar. For App.net, however, it’s game over for good.
Did you use App.net? If so, how do you feel about it being shut down? Were you one of the 11,000 people who crowdfunded App.net into existence? Or were you one of the thousands who signed up for a free account at a later date? Please let us know in the comments below!