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While it remains unclear how the emerging decentralized social projects will generate profit, they keep getting more attention.
Jack Dorsey-backed decentralized communications app Bluesky has positioned itself as a major rival to the popular social networking service Twitter. Bluesky, which has the support of the former Twitter co-founder, was founded in 2021 and hired its first employees in the same year. How is an established app with seasoned past and existing leadership and a massive user base facing new competition with Bluesky, which came to light about two years ago?
Twitter has faced multiple backlash since Elon Musk acquired the company in October 2022, after which he made it a private company. The billionaire has been restructuring Twitter, and the company’s makeover has triggered new interest in decentralized social networks. As opposed to companies with CEOs, decentralized social media platforms like what Bluesky is purporting have no owners or leaders. They also do not have obligations concerning commercial or financial interests. According to advocates of decentralized social networks, these projects are less likely to collect and sell users’ data and less susceptible to censorship. As for Bluesky, the app runs on the AT protocol, a decentralized networking technology.
Basically, Musk’s Twitter is different from Dorsey’s Twitter. Starting with including subscription-only features to major layoffs and giving back access to controversial users, the Tesla CEO has fundamentally changed what Twitter used to be under the former leadership.
Bluesky Gains Popularity over Twitter
Citing data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower, Bluesky has gained massive popularity over the past few months. However, its total download volume is still far below Twitter’s. Data provided by the intelligence firm shows that the social messaging app recorded a whopping 606% surge in monthly mobile downloads in April. There were 628,000 mobile downloads in the month following its availability on Android and iOS.
On the other hand, Twitter had 14.9 million app downloads in April. Despite the margin between Twitter and Bluesky, Twitter’s mobile downloads only grew 2% from the previous month. The company accumulated 14.6 million downloads in March. As a matter of fact, the Elon Musk-owned social networking service saw a decline in mobile app downloads in February. The figures dropped from January’s 17.2 million to 14.05 million in the second month of the year. Besides rivaling Twitter, Bluesky is gaining more attention than the decentralized messaging app Mastodon. While many grew interested in the messaging app in November, the buzz seems to have dropped. Mastodon had just 90,000 downloads last month.
Members of the Bluesky project announced the formation of its Public Benefit LLC in February 2022. In the announcement, the team named Dorsey as one of the board members. A couple of months later, the company revealed that it got $13 million in funding and emphasized Jack’s position as a board member.
While it remains unclear how the emerging decentralized social projects will generate profit, they keep getting more attention. Other examples, in addition to Bluesky and Mastodon, are Lens and Farcaster.