Developer network App.net surpasses funding goal

Is App.net really the "service we all wish existed"?

App.net, an alternative social network with developers in mind which aims to usurp the more established sites, has gone past its $500,000 funding target with only hours to spare, as eager developers already start to build apps for the network.

The start-up founded by Dalton Caldwell, with the tagline "help us create the service we all wish existed", has as its main goal the vision to create a social network without ad support, and build a service “where users and developers come first, not advertisers”.

Backers can choose to pledge at one of three different levels; the entry-level Member Tier, for $50; the Developer Tier for $100 which includes API key generation and an analytics dashboard, and the Pro Tier, which at $1000 gives extra phone support and a personal meeting with Caldwell. The pledge ends tonight.

Whether a subscription social service can survive will be a matter of interest to many, not least the over 10,000 people who have currently backed App.net.

The current App.net feed can be seen here with the look of the network not dissimilar to Twitter, although admittedly still in the alpha stage. The API spec is also available on Github.

Caldwell clarified a number of points on what App.net will entail, insisting the product is not vapourware - in that it will never be released or officially cancelled - and that various third party apps are under development, with the API only available for less than a week so far.

Controversy

Caldwell fuelled the fire of the nascent network in a scathing open letter to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, over a disagreement following the Silicon Valley giant’s purported attempt to acqui-hire Caldwell for their open platform.

“The execs in the room made clear that the success of my product would be an impediment to [Facebook's] ad revenue financial goals, and thus even offering me the chance to be acquired was a noble and kind move on their part,” Caldwell fumed.

Similarly, Caldwell is of the belief that Twitter has now become more of a media company appealing to advertisers as opposed to being a product for devs.

He might have a point, especially given the news in July that Instagram users couldn't use the Find Friends on Twitter function because of modifications in Twitter's API restrictions.

The irony, therefore, that Twitter was the medium in which this new network became known can’t have been lost on the guys at App.net.

But what do you make of App.net, and would you consider signing up as a developer? Is Caldwell right in his criticisms of Facebook and Twitter?

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