Not in the mood for foreign millions
Twitter rival Mastodon is turning down investors
Since Elon Musk took over the news service Twitter, interest in the open source alternative Mastodon has increased significantly. This calls venture capitalists into action. But that’s not what Mastodon was waiting for.
Mastodon doesn’t want money from venture capitalists – although the platform could use some.
Jean Claude RaemyEditor Economics
Mastodon is commonly considered a “replacement” for Twitter. Admittedly, the user numbers are still far removed from those of Twitter. However, after every negative message on Twitter – and there have been quite a few since Elon Musk took over the platform – the number of downloads of Mastodon has increased significantly. The “Financial Times” was able to prove this statistically.
At Mastodon itself, the number of users rose from 300,000 to 2.5 million per day between October and November alone. At least that’s what the German software developer Eugen Rochko (29), who founded the open source microblogging website in 2016, writes in his blog.
Fingers for the venture capitalists
Of course, interest in Mastodon has increased not only among users, but also among investors. According to Rochko, there are at least five investment offers from Silicon Valley venture capital firms.
With all the money, Mastodon could accelerate its own growth. But Rochko explains that the non-profit status of the platform is “untouchable”. The independence is what makes Mastodon so attractive.
“Mastodon won’t turn into everything you hate about Twitter,” promises Rochko. For example, that the platform could be bought by a billionaire. Or go bankrupt. Or simply switched off.
Twitter has long proven that centralized platforms like Twitter can impose arbitrary restrictions. The short message service recently temporarily blocked the accounts of Mastodon, various journalists and other people. But at the same time unbanned the accounts of controversial users.
Alternative or Satellite?
Also, no one earns astronomical sums at Mastodon. Rochko is the sole shareholder of the platform and, according to the 2021 annual report, paid out 2400 euros per month last year. According to Rochko, this amount has increased by only 500 euros.
So Mastodon will continue to rely on donations to fund the platform. According to the annual report, just 55,000 euros came in in the second half of 2021. The development of Mastodon was originally launched with funds from the Patreon and OpenCollective donation platforms and a development grant from Samsung. Donations are likely to have increased in 2022. But the cash flow is far from the millions of venture capitalists. In view of the increased frequency of use of the platform, new servers would definitely be necessary. This has been shown clearly by server problems in recent months.
It is questionable whether Rochko can replace Twitter with his actions in the long term. Researchers at Oxford Internet expect Mastodon to remain just a “satellite platform” of Twitter. So a place where users can find an alternative in the event of Twitter outages and also let themselves be left out on Twitter. However, without seriously threatening the large platform.