Alternative social network App.net surpasses funding goal

App.net, a vision for a new social network without a financially driven bottom line, has surpassed its $500,000 (£319,000) funding goal. The project’s founder is Silicon Valley developer and entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell, who is best known as the co-founder of iMeem and PicPlz. The App.net platform was conceptualised as an alternative to existing social networks like Twitter and Facebook, whose focus on monetisation and ad support muddles the experience for developers and, in turn, users, Caldwell has said.

In App.net’s funding plea, he described the project as “the service we all wish existed.” That service, as he and apparently some 10,000 backers visualise it, is a paid membership social network, addressing the philosophy that “if it’s free, you’re the product.” While commercially minded messages will not be restricted from appearing on the network, users can unfollow spammers, advertisers, and promoters whose content they don’t want to see.

At publishing time, sponsors had pledged to cough up some $650,000 (£415,000) at three different funding tiers. The introductory tier costs $50 (£32) and offers a full of year of membership; the next level up runs $100 (£64) and provides access to the App.net developer toolchain, in addition to a year’s membership; the highest level is the $1,000 (£640) pro tier, which includes access to the project’s developer tools and a meeting with Caldwell himself.

“We're building a real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers,” he wrote.

“Our team has spent the last 9 years building social services, developer platforms, mobile applications and more. We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done,” he continued.

Caldwell’s objections to Facebook were detailed last week in an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, in which he accused some of the social network’s executives of intimidation tactics and bad faith negotiation.

“I just think you constructed a business that has financial motivations that are not in-line with users & developers,” he wrote at the time.

A preliminary version of the service is available at App.net, and developers can check out its API spec on GitHub.