When Diaspora set out to raise money to build an open Facebook alternative site, they had a pretty modest goal: $10,000. Of course, they were raising the funds through a less than traditional means — using Kickstarter, an online fundraising site. Still, they shot past that goal in 12 days. And within 20 days, they had raised over $100,000. Yesterday, the fundraising closed, the final tally: just over $200,000.
Obviously, the Facebook privacy fiasco played a huge role in the fundraising success. Diaspora pulled in money from a number of prominent people on the web — and, humorously, apparently even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself. All told, nearly 6,500 people contributed money to the project — making it the largest Kickstarter project ever.
Now for the hard part.
While Diaspora has plenty of money, they have yet to make the actual Facebook alternative site. The four NYU students will now begin that process over the course of the Summer. As they wrote yesterday, “You may not hear too much from us in the coming months and we will try our best to provide regular updates, but our silence means we are hard at work.”
By September 2010, the team says it will release the first iteration of the project, fully open-sourced under the AGPL. Here’s the feature they say we’ll see:
- Full-fledged communications between Seeds (Diaspora instances)
- End to end GPG
- External Service Scraping of most major services (reclaim your data)
- Version 1 of Diaspora’s API with documentation
- Public GitHub repository of all Diaspora code
After that, the project will move back to New York City where they will begin work on building out their secondary ideas for the service.
When Diaspora started getting a lot of press, many critics were quick to point out that this group of kids didn’t actually have one line of code written yet and were trying to take on a site with nearly 500 million users. And the truth is that many of these open alternative sites fail against their bigger rivals. Still, it will be interesting to see what these guys come up with with the $200,000 now in their pockets. If nothing else, they have a great sense of timing.