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We’ve learned today that the microblogging service Pownce has been acquired by Six Apart. It also appears that Pownce will close in two weeks from today. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, it appears it was a deal to get some programming talent.
Mr. Ha at VentureBeat has a good overview of the deal and what it means for the team. Ha notes, "Culver and Mike Malone, who were Pownce’s main developers, will move on to similar roles at Six Apart. Though Pownce won’t be a part of Six Apart, you can be sure the two will be working on something related to the “rebalancing” effort that Six Apart chief executive Chris Alden mentioned." Apparently Kevin Rose will remain on as a Six Apart advisor.
The sad reality here is that Pownce had a HUGE opportunity that was wasted by Pownce co-founder Kevin Rose. Instead of Kevin using his huge network to push Pownce, he pushed their biggest competitor Twitter. With 75,000 followers on Twitter, Rose could have easily moved (at least a large percentage of) them over to Pownce and made the service more active. I’ve watched how loyal Rose’s fans are and they would have helped to build Pownce up, instead of allowing it to be sold for scraps. It’s a pretty shocking business strategy.
I can’t imagine how the team must feel building a tool that one of the founders doesn’t even actively promote! Take this as a lesson for your startup, actively use your own service or watch it fall apart!
Amtrak is excited to announce the launch of a new train service – the 2107 Microblogging Express. Please view the video below to experience a trip on the new 2107 Microblogging Express. We make a variety of station stops and connect to all local service.
Anyone remember Pownce? They are the so-called Twitter clone that came out of the gate with a business model, that is injecting advertising into the stream of content from you and your friends. Now Twitter has gone and cloned the clone. Of course ads in the stream is about the easiest business model there is.
This morning Duncan Riley is reporting that some Twitter users have noted ads in their stream as well. I haven’t seen any ads yet and I’ve refreshed several times, tried visiting other pages, etc. Twitter needs a business plan now and advertising might just be the first step. Some have speculated that they are aggregating and selling data trends, though I doubt it. My guess is that the team has more coming in terms of monetization, especially when the apps built on the platform are already generating income. My business model idea is opt-in marketing for brands replacing email lists.
Update: I can’t tell for sure, but it looks like Duncan’s source is now saying that the supposed ad was just her background image and not an advertisement. As I noted above, selling ads would be only the first step to monetization and frankly wouldn’t be as effective as other potential ideas.
Update 2: Peter Kafka asked Twitter founder Biz Stone about ads on Twitter and his reply was "no".
Update: Thomas Marban has created a new Twitter logo featuring a sad bird with a bandaid.
We’ve written about Twitter and their server/capacity issues since day 1. This week we saw downtime which could be related to heavy usage at the future of web apps conference. Next week is Twitter’s superbowl: SXSW. To that end, Twitter developer Alex Payne has provided two updates related to how they plan to handle the SXSW traffic. This news comes on the same day that Pownce has released their API 2.0.
Here are the emails (my emphasis):
Tomorrow (Saturday, March 1st) Twitter will be offline from 6PM to 8:30PM PST. We’re adding additional read-slave databases and tuning the configuration on our existing databases.
You may have noticed some downtime and intermittent availability over the last 24 hours. This was the result of some additional caching measures that we put in place which caused an unexpected memory leak, triggering cascading failures across our cluster. We’ve since taken steps to correct this issue. Performance both internal and external to the site has been stable since noon PST, and we’re watching it closely.
Earlier this week we had a different incident in which some users appeared to be signed in as other users. This occurred while were testing a more recent version of Ruby and an alternative application server on one machine in our cluster. Due to our load balancing configuration, the issue quickly spread. We disabled the site and resolved the issue within fifteen minutes. It should not have effected API clients.
Both of these changes were the result of our testing potential performance improvements in preparation for South by Southwest (SXSW), a large annual multi-disciplinary conference held every March in Austin, Texas. This time last year, our growth started to take off around SXSW, and we want to be as reliable as possible during the event this year. We will be taking more cautious steps to improve our performance and reliability over the next week.
As part of those steps, I intend to decrease the number of allowed authenticated API requests per hour from 70 to 50 from Thursday, March 6th through Wednesday, March 12th. While we are taking steps to greatly increase our capacity (and have been doing so continuously, particular since our move to our current host), the API is our foremost source of traffic, and as such is the first place we look when trying to create some breathing room for our cluster. I appreciate your understanding, and I hope that 20 fewer requests per hour don’t impact your applications too drastically for the duration of the modified rate limit.
We also intend to put some extra abuse-prevention measures in place before the event. We’ve seen a general increase in abusive traffic over the last several months, and we simply can’t afford it during a heavy-traffic event. If you’ve been scraping Twitter or consuming public API feeds unfairly, be prepared for an unpleasant surprise.
Thanks, as always, for your patience and understanding. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please do let me know.
snippit from second email
As for the proposed decreased authenticated requests per hour: I’m open to suggestions. If 50 will put too much strain on your clients and there’s some other way that we can provide you with the data you need while decreasing the overall number of requests for this six day period, please let us know.
We’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes or shortchange you after you’ve put in hard work on your applications. We’re always open to alternatives, and we’re always listening.
Pownce will be opening its doors to the public tomorrow and will launch some new features says Mike Arrington over at TechCrunch who got a sneak peak. Arrington seems to have turned around his view on Pownce relatively quickly as just a month ago Arrington said regarding Pownce, "there is probably only room for one Twitter in this world, and Twitter itself seems determined to hang in there." This was in regards to a story by Uncov that Pownce was headed for the deadpool and not even "Techcrunch could save it".
Today Arrington has apparently changed his tune on Pownce and notes, "Who knows, they (Pownce) may be here long after many of today’s "hot" startups are a distant memory." Here is a summary of the new features that apparently have changed his opinion:
- no more private beta, anyone can join
- updated, faster desktop client
- looks like you can add friends from other networks not just Pownce friends – not exactly sure how that works as of yet
- they have a new list of "featured followers" which Arrington says won’t just be a list of top users, but rather an editorialized list – will be interesting to see who shows up there
- there is an updated events page as well
Personally the mentioned updates aren’t that exciting to me — but moving out of private beta is the big shift and should show the viability for Pownce to shift into high gear. The issue for Pownce will continue to be whether it can draw in the names that have legions of followers; this is how the app will move to viral status and grow to Twitter-like levels. On a side note, I listed Pownce developer Leah Culver as one of 23 people I’d like to meet this year.
In case you are using Pownce, you can friend me here. Here is our initial video review from last summer:
Earlier this week we wrote about Twitter and their lack of a business plan. We also noted that Pownce started with a basic business plan by injecting ads into the feed stream along with a pro account to get people to buy it just to get the pro badge. TechConfidential sat down with Leah Culver, lead developer on Pownce to find out more about the service and answer some of the questions I had. Sure looks like they are headed away from what others say is a rocket-shot to a deadpool.
The key is what Leah says about "didn’t want to upset the community by adding those in later". This is so critical I believe. Go into it with these options, users know what to expect. Slap ads or charge for the service later on and you can immediately lose a large percentage of your userbase.
Here are a couple interesting snippets from the interview:
TC: What do you make of the debate going on this week in the blogosphere about the alleged inadequacy of Twitter’s business model? In the debate, some have praised Pownce for having established a business model right out of the gate by charging for premium messaging.
Culver: Pownce started off with ads and pro accounts because we didn’t want to upset our community by adding these in later versions. You can still use all the best parts of Pownce for free.
TC: Kevin Rose has raised $20 million for his previous startups Digg and Revision3 Corp., and the word is that VCs are lining up to invest in Pownce. Any update on financing?
Culver: To date, Pownce is self-funded (and bootstrapped), but that may change very soon. We’re at a transition point right now, and Pownce will certainly grow a lot in the next year.
Leah Culver is one of 23 people I’d like to meet in 2008.
Yesterday Uncov went after Pownce, claiming that they are a fail and that "even Michael Arrington" can’t help them now after checking out an Alexa chart. In July I wrote that you "should never bring Alexa to a fight". It was true five years ago, it was true in July and it’s true today. Using charts (of any kind) in this Web 2.0 world is silly. Pownce/Twitter both have APIs – even using the tool offsite wouldn’t register on Alexa. This is why I’ve called for new metrics for years now.
Mike picked up the Uncov-bait, and wondered in the story title whether Pownce is headed for the Techcrunch deadpool.
I don’t know founder Leah Culver but I was wondering after reading both posts what some other startups might look like using Alexa. Uncov suggests that "you can look at virtually any Web 2.0 company and see a nearly-identical traffic graph". I would generally agree with that statement. Certainly Pownce has been overshadowed by Twitter based on API and those infected with Twitterdiction. I would suggest that Pownce is more on the lines of Tumblr than Twitter – in fact a marriage between Tumblr and Pownce might be sweet and long-lasting.
I selected Mint as my comparison site for this demo. It’s been written about a variety of times on Techcrunch, Mint won the Techcrunch award and they are now an advertiser on Techcrunch. Mint also has 5.45M funding, Pownce appears to have no funding. Using Uncov’s theory, I believe it’s a good comparison.
Here’s the Alexa comparison chart for both Mint and Pownce. I’ve animated it (5 sec) to show six months and seven days respectively. It’s easy to see that Pownce is ranked higher and slowly trending higher than Mint. So if based on an Alexa chart, Pownce is a fail, is Mint a fail as well?