Twitter competitor App.net shuts down after years of struggle

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Panithan Fakseemuang/123RF
The bell tolls for App.net. Five years after the ambitious app first launched with high hopes of becoming the Twitter alternative, it has thrown in the towel. For a while, it seemed that App.net could’ve been the next big thing. Its crowdfunding campaign raised over $500,000, and with the promise of an ad-free interface, it had the makings of a great social network. But alas, it simply wasn’t meant to be.

The demise of the app has actually been a long time coming. “In May of 2014, App.net entered maintenance mode,” CEO Dalton Caldwell wrote in a blog post announcement. “At that time we made the difficult decision to put App.net into autopilot mode in an effort to preserve funds and to give it ample time to bake.” And while all the money App.net has made since then has been spent on hosting and services to keep the site up, Caldwell admitted that “revenue has consistently diminished over the past 2+ years, and we have been unable to return the service to active development.”

Effective March 14, 2017, App.net will be officially shut down. The site has already turned off new signups and all pending subscription renewals. Furthermore, the app plans to open-source its code on its GitHub page. Current users have until March of this year to export their data, after which point all user data will be deleted.

“Ultimately, we failed to overcome the chicken-and-egg issue between application developers and user adoption of those applications,” Caldwell wrote. “We envisioned a pool of differentiated, fast-growing third-party applications would sustain the numbers needed to make the business work. Our initial developer adoption exceeded expectations, but that initial excitement didn’t ultimately translate into a big enough pool of customers for those developers.”

On the other hand, the app that App.net attempted to take on — Twitter — isn’t exactly doing so well either. Anemic user growth and equally disappointing revenues have had many investors concerned with the social media site for quite some time, and it’s unclear as to what the future of the 140-character company will be at this point either.

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