In recent months, Mastodon has turned down more than five investment offers from Silicon Valley venture capital firms, as its founder has committed to keep the fast-growing social media network non-profit.
Mastodon, an open-source microblogging network launched in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko, has witnessed an increase in users since Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October amid fears about the billionaire’s management of the platform.
Following the product’s rapid rise, Rochko said that he had had requests from more than five US-based investors to put “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in it.
However, he stated that the platform’s non-profit status was “untouchable,” adding that Mastodon’s independence and the ability to choose moderating techniques across its servers were part of its charm.
“Mastodon will not turn into everything you hate about Twitter,” said Rochko. “The fact that it can be sold to a controversial billionaire, the fact that it can be shut down go bankrupt, and so on. It’s the difference in paradigms [between the platforms].”
Twitter temporarily blocked Mastodon and many journalists’ accounts earlier this month after they released information on Musk’s private jet’s flight route. Twitter also stated that it would prohibit links to other social media services, such as Mastodon, but later reversed its position.
In rebuttal, Rochko wrote in a blog post that this was a “stark reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what you can and cannot say,” noting that Mastodon’s monthly active users climbed from 300,000 to 2.5 million between October and November.
According to several reports, daily Mastodon downloads increased from 6,000 on October 27, the day Musk acquired Twitter, to a high of 243,000 on November 18.
Mastodon is comparable to Twitter in many ways. However, it is made up of several decentralized, independently moderated servers. Users connect to one server but can communicate with others on other servers throughout the “federated” system.
Rochko is Mastodon’s sole shareholder, and according to the company’s 2021 annual report, he earned €2,400 per month last year, which he claims has since increased by €500.
Mastodon will continue to be funded through donations. The site has approximately 8,500 donors on the membership website Patreon, which raises over £25,000 each month. This compares to total earnings of more than €55,000 during the six months from June to December 2021.
Mastodon’s long-term goal, according to Rochko, is to replace Twitter and other commercial social networks. “It’s a long road ahead, but it’s bigger than it’s ever been.”