Diaspora is the first OpenSource (or Free Software) distributed social network. There have been a lot of rumors about Diaspora a few years ago, since it was one of the most well founded projects on KickStarter with more than 200k$ donations, now passed by Pebble.
Diaspora is about social, but social is not its first concern. This project cares about Privacy, something that the other tech companies have not figured out yet. It should be the first concern for a software company, but as always it becomes the last.
The four guys who founded Diaspora thought to solve this problem in an interesting and unique way, by building a distributed network. In this system, people are able to install their own pod running Diaspora, which is directly connected within the whole network. With this idea everyone is able to set up his own Diaspora’s server with his own data saved on a personal property.
Thanks to this solution, privacy is not a concern anymore, because nobody owns your data. You become the owner of yourself. In this way Diaspora’s data is safely stored on your sever and it is equally distributed within the network.
After receiving the right “investment” the four guys, who founded the project, moved to Silicon Valley to live the dream and develop the best product they could. Further the Diaspora project received a good amount of money from Mark Zuckerberg who referred to Diaspora as a cool idea. Although the initial momentum was high, it has decreased in the last months. One of the four guys died, weakening the community that was behind the project, and the user base, that had to be on the service, has decided to still be on Facebook and Twitter. Moreover after a few months, this project has been copied by Google with Google Plus. In fact the idea of circles was firstly proposed by the Diaspora project that called them aspects.
From a usability point of view the service is still a little bit slow and on the main pod (JoinDiaspora) there is not a chat yet. Moreover rumors said that they rejected an investment from a firm. At this time Diaspora is asking donations on the service, hoping to keep going. As Alexa Rank reports, the main pod is at the 38,663 place in the world wide websites rank.
The conclusion behind the failure or the success of Diaspora is that at any time of your entrepreneurial journey you need to decide if you are a company or not. Diaspora has not received an investment yet and they haven’t figured out a business model, although they could have been profitable from day first. On the other hand they just coded a lot and had fun. What they didn’t understand was that they could demonstrate that we can build a company using just Free Software and that it can be profitable at any time.
However another aspect about the strange story of Diaspora is Privacy. From what we have been able to see it seems that people really don’t care about Privacy anymore. With the raise of Facebook and Twitter, they just keep going forward without protecting their data. For this reason Diaspora didn’t get any momentum from the common people, who should care about Privacy.
If they really thought that Privacy was a big deal, today Diaspora would be the most used service on the internet.