The first real Kickstarter success story, Diaspora, was a new social network born out of frustration with Facebook’s privacy policies. It surpassed its modest funding goal of $US10,000, eventually raking in over $US200,000, and then… nothing.
Before a single line of code had been written, Diaspora was a sensation. Its anti establishment rallying cry and garage hacker ethos earned it kudos from across an Internet eager for signs of life among a generation grown addicted to status updates.
Sadly, though, the project promised rather more than its conspirators could muster. From the very start, maybe people should have realised that the team behind it — four NYU compsci undergrads by the names of Max Salzberg, Dan Grippi, Ilya Zhitomirskiy and Raphael Sofaer — weren’t quite capable of delivering what they claimed they could:
[T]he battle may have been lost before it even began. Beyond the difficulty of actually executing a project of this scope and magnitude, the team of four young kids with little real-world programming experience found themselves crushed under the weight of expectation. Even before they had tried to produce an actual product, bloggers, technologists and open-source geeks everywhere were already looking to them to save the world from tyranny and oppression. Not surprisingly, the first release, on September 15, 2010 was a public disaster, mainly for its bugs and security holes. Former fans mockingly dismissed it as “swiss cheese.”
Sadly, tensions ran high: the company struggled, the original funding ran out, and venture capital interest disappeared fast. On November 12, Ilya Zhitomirskiy was found dead.
For some, he was the heart and soul of the project… “Ilya was really the light of Diaspora. And frankly, when he died, the project died.”
Despite attempts to reinvent the project, it still remains in alpha a full two years after its initial launch. Of course, its suggested that Diaspora opened our eyes to Facebook privacy concerns and, to an extent, that is perhaps true — but it certainly won’t be replacing the Big Blue any time soon. Head over to Motherboard to read the full story. [Motherboard via The Verge]
Image: Henrik Moltke/Flickr