Diaspora – n. – A group ejected from its homeland.
And so it was a year and a half ago, during the last big Facebook privacy kerfuffle, that a quartet of NYU students announced to the world their intention to build an open-source social network. By being decentralized with an altruistic agenda, they wanted to win over the people that Facebook alienated through foggy permissions to their content. With Diapsora, you would be free of corporate influence and data mining, allowing you to share your information at your own discretion. They asked for $10k through crowdfunding site Kickstarter and after a month, received twenty times that amount. So now you’re thinking “who in the world is Diaspora and why have I never heard of them before?” Well, that’s perhaps a key point because Diaspora is now asking for even more money.
It wasn’t long after Diaspora closed its funding that Facebook corrected its privacy issues – to the satisfaction of the public – and the spotlight was drawn away from the fledgling startup. Supporters included many in the tech sector, from Leo Laporte (who spent many of his podcasts whining about how he didn’t use Facebook because of the ordeal) to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (who just thought it was a cool idea). This is all old news now, but back then, this was the whining around a new site design, times a thousand – even the government made inquiries at a point. But that’s in the past, it’s done now and we have to wonder: who really care about Diaspora anymore?
Would it surprise you that the Diaspora kids really had no idea what they were doing? That they had no management or product development experience? Sure, decentralized networks brought us the Gnutella networks after Napster crumbled, but not even millions of dollars and hundreds of talented employees can make Google+ a success. Bearing their heart to the world, Diaspora disclosed their expenses: after Kickstarter took a quarter of that initial haul, they spent the majority of the remaining $150k on salaries. What was originally some passionate side project really just got these kids out of real jobs for a year and a half building a product that will neither be viable or used. Even their initial funders are having doubts on the service.
I’m sure these guys will be able to build a product some day, but Diaspora won’t be it. This will be their learning experience and then they’ll go on and change the world.
Just let Diaspora sink. Forget this whole thing ever happened.