Why it might not work: App.net (cont.)

Dalton over at join.app.net has posted a response to some of the criticisms and critiques he’s received since launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise $500K for a user-fee supported Twitter community.

The first thing to say is that, while the campaign is less-than-perfect, it is getting much more traction than many other campaigns ever manage: They’ve got about $62,000 in commitments so far and more than 880 backers. Both of these are serious numbers and the result of doing something right.

The second thing to say is that Dalton is now doing one of the most important crowdfunding campaign things right: He’s giving useful and community-building updates. This latest blog post, beyond being well-written, powerful and non-defensive, captures his group’s passion, gives the sense that there is, in fact, a community thinking deeply about this project and that a movement is afoot.

That said, I stand behind most of my critiques of the campaign (as opposed to of the idea/product).

The update is (to my layman’s eyes) relatively technical and addresses questions that the average user would never consider. This reinforces the notion that the campaign’s target are early adopters and developers and not the masses who will ultimately decide whether a new social media tool will succeed or fail. I still think this is a mistake but hope to be proven wrong.

And although the blog post gives some insights into the guts of join.app.net, it still gives no sense of what the experience of using it will feel like nor what it will look like. I suspect that even early adopters are swayed by elegant visual design.

The take-away point is that Dalton has done a good job activating the campaign’s target market through his passion and vision but I am still concerned that this is not a broad enough base to get to $500K. I wonder whether a tranched approach might have been the way to go. As in, raise the minimum cash needed to create some proof of concept from the early adopters who already hate twitter and want an alternative and then do a second bigger raise to take the concept to scale.