App.net State of the Union

As many are aware, the first major round of subscription renewals from the original App.net launch happened a few weeks ago. We have been anxiously anticipating what our subscription renewal rate would be in order to do budgetary planning. Since we have not been sure what to expect the renewal rate to be, we mentally prepared ourselves for a wide variety of outcomes.

The good news is that the renewal rate was high enough for App.net to be profitable and self-sustaining on a forward basis. Operational and hosting costs are sufficiently covered by revenue for us to feel confident in the continued viability of the service. No one should notice any change in the way the App.net API/service operates. To repeat, App.net will continue to operate normally on an indefinite basis.

The bad news is that the renewal rate was not high enough for us to have sufficient budget for full-time employees. After carefully considering a few different options, we are making the difficult decision to no longer employ any salaried employees, including founders. Dalton and Bryan will continue to be responsible for the operation of App.net, but no longer as employees. Additionally, as part of our efforts to ensure App.net is generating positive cash flow, we are winding down the Developer Incentive Program. We will be reaching out to developers currently enrolled in the program with more information.

App.net will continue to employ contractors for help with support and operations. In addition to operational and support help, we will also be utilizing contract help for specific new development projects.

App.net was envisioned from the beginning as a service that could be sustainable, something intended to operate on a longer timescale than a typical online service. It is often the case that services that are important to people can get caught on the wrong side of a boom-and-bust cycle, which is something we explicitly wanted to avoid.

We will be open sourcing a larger and larger percentage of the App.net codebase. We would love to get community contributions and improvements. Today we are launching a new open source page at opensource.app.net. The first new piece of software we are open sourcing is our microblogging web application, Alpha. The source code to Alpha is available here.

The continued support and interest of the App.net community is vital the continued health and wellbeing of the platform. Depending on the revenue that App.net makes, we are open to increasing or decreasing the budget we can allocate towards additional development. If revenue rates start to tilt upward we would be excited to budget additional development resources. In any event, our intention is to have the App.net service continue to operate for as long as there are customers willing to support it.

We continue to believe in the usefulness of a sustainable social platform where users and developers are customers, and not the product being sold to advertisers. If this were a company without a clear business model, App.net would have disappeared long ago. The market conditions that were the driving force behind App.net’s creation have not changed, if anything, there is more of a role for a social platform like it. We would like to thank the developer and member community for taking App.net from just an idea two years ago to a fully realized service today. Needless to say, it’s been humbling for all of us on the App.net team to have the support of so many amazing people.

Thanks,
Dalton Caldwell and Bryan Berg, co-founders

Backer of the Day: The Zombie Apocalypse

bluezombieToday’s Backer is for limited edition merchandise from The Zombie Apocalypse, including a laptop sticker and two posters.

The Zombie Apocalypse features killer zombie apocalypse survival tips, gifs, and useful links. In addition to regularly highlighting community submissions, they also frequently run a community Q & A where other zombie apocalypse survivors ask and answer questions.

The Zombie Apocalypse team write “In the age of information abundance, we strongly believe that the zombie apocalypse is inevitable, and survival requires community.”

Backer of the Day: Limited Edition Gumpity Grump Merchandise

sketch_smallToday’s Backer is from @peterpachoumis, the talent behind Gumpity Grump, who is using Backer to sell limited-edition merchandise: a poster, a t-shirt, and a one-of-a-kind hand-drawn sketch.

“Grumpity Grump has always been special to me”, writes @peterpachoumis, who has worked as a professional illustrator for DC Comics, Image Comics, Wildstorm Comics, and more.

Order your limited-edition Grumpity Grump merchandise now.

Backer of the Day: The Yard

The Yard - New York, NYToday’s Backer is from The Yard, a fast-growing assemblage of co-working and private workspaces throughout New York City. The Yard is expanding this summer to the NoMad neighborhood in Manhattan, and is using Backer to let people reserve a spot and pick out their desks before the space opens.

According to Creative Director Andy Smith, the space will serve as a ‘hybrid alternative’ to standard co-working, with spacious lounge areas and conference rooms as well as fully furnished private offices. Backers can select from a number of options starting with an open co-working membership all the way up to a four-desk private suite, with customary setup fees waived.

If you are a startup or freelancer in New York, or just looking for space where you can work productively and creatively, take a look at The Yard’s Backer and secure a spot today.

New API Feature: Extended Scopes

Today we’re announcing some changes to make it easier for you to control which apps can see your data. There’s no reason why a private message app like Whisper also needs access to your Ohai journal or your Sunlit photos. Starting today, we’re giving developers the tools to ask you for access to just the data they need.

As developers integrate this feature, you’ll see an explicit list of what kinds of messages and files a developer is asking to access.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 4.36.23 PM

Developers, we’re calling this new feature extended scopes. To get started:

  1. Fill in descriptions for any File or Channel content types you’ve created. See the Content Types documentation for more information.
  2. Review the Extended Scopes documentation.
  3. Migrate your app

If you have questions please ask them in the App.net developer Patter room.

 

Backer of the Day: Abby and Norma Limited Edition Poster

abbyandnormaToday’s Backer is for a limited edition poster from Erika Hammerschmidt, the writer, artist and creator of the webcomic Abby and Norma.

“I’m making a special Abby and Norma poster you can be proud to hang on your wall!” writes Erika. “From a distance it looks like a pretty geometric design, but get close and it’s made up of countless images from the comic, arranged neatly and symmetrically, interspersed with speech balloons just like the ones Abby and Norma use for conversation.”

Along with the poster there are a bevy of rewards for backing the campaign at every tier. Order your poster today.

 

OpenSSL “Heartbleed” Vulnerability Update

As of Monday evening, App.net has patched all our services against the Heartbleed/CVE-2014-0160 OpenSSL vulnerability and subsequently reissued our SSL certs with new keys.

While we have no evidence that confidential information was exposed in this case, it’s good practice to consider changing your password on App.net and elsewhere on the web.

We recommend using a strong password, to avoid using the same password you have used elsewhere, and to add two-factor authentication to your App.net account.