Diaspora cofounders turn project over to the community

Maxwell Salzberg and Daniel Grippi are stepping away from their Kickstarter-funded Facebook alternative to focus on their new image remixing site, Makr.io.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Published Aug 29, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 11:57 am CDT

After launching a Kickstarter campaign to create an “open” alternative to Facebook in 2010, but struggling to bring their site to the masses, the cofounders of Diaspora have turned control of the project to the users who embraced it.

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Diaspora cofounders Maxwell Salzberg and Daniel Grippi made the announcement on the site’s official blog Monday.

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“We will still remain as an important part [of] this community as the founders, but we want to make sure we are including all of the people who care about Diaspora and want to see it succeed well into the future,” they wrote.

The cofounders emphasized that the changeover would not go into effect immediately.

“It is going to be a gradual process to open up more and more to community governance over time,” they continued. “The goal is to make this an entirely community-driven and community-run project.”

Salzberg and Grippi–along with Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy–pitched Diaspora as an “open source personal web server that will put individuals in control of their data” two years ago, when they were students at New York University.

Their goal was to raise $10,000 and spend the summer designing and building Diaspora, but they ended up with $200,000 from almost 6,500 backers on Jun. 1, 2010. At the time, it was the largest Kickstarter project ever.

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The announcement was met with mixed comments from Diaspora users and people who followed the project.

“TL;DR, ‘After years, and hundreds of thousands of your dollars, we couldn’t do it. Can you code it, too?’” rosser wrote on Hacker News. “Don’t mistake me; I’m a huge fan of what they were trying to do. I’m just really, deeply disappointed in their execution.”

“In many ways – I’m fine with what happened,” ghshephard wrote. “It demonstrated that creating great projects/systems/code requires more than money, mindshare, and enthusiasm. While those are all useful, also important is skill and experience.”

The founders are already busy with their next project. On Aug. 21, less than one week before Salzberg and Grippi announced their intention to hand Diaspora to the community, they announced that they had launched Makr.io, a social photo remixing site.

Salzberg and Grippi have not returned the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

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Photo via Kickstarter

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*First Published: Aug 29, 2012, 6:58 pm CDT