It was a good run, but it looks like the founders of Diaspora have reached the end of the road — at least for their full-time leadership of the project.
Diaspora, the Kickstarter-backed initiative launched two years ago by a group of NYU students aiming to create a decentralized social networking alternative to Facebook, announced today that it will now be “a community project.”
The announcement was made in a blog post authored by Diaspora founders Maxwell Salzberg and Daniel Grippi which read in part:
“Today, we are giving control of Diaspora to the community.
As a Free Software social project, we have an obligation to take this project further, for the good of the community that revolves around it. Putting the decisions for the project’s future in the hands of the community is one of the highest benefits of any FOSS project, and we’d like to bring this benefit to our users and developers. We still will remain as an important part 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.
…This will not be an immediate shift over. Many details still need to be stepped through. It is going to be a gradual process to open up more and more to community governance over time. The goal is to make this an entirely community-driven and community-run project.”
I’ve reached out to Diaspora for more details on what exactly this shift means, how much of the money raised through Kickstarter remains in Diaspora’s coffers (and how it will be used), and what Salzberg and Grippi plan to do next — but it looks most likely that they will be focused on Makr.io, the “photo-remixing” meme generation project they launched last week out of the Summer 2012 Y Combinator class.
Update: Salzberg points to Diaspora’s Kickstarter page for a full profit-and-loss report detailing how the $200,000 in Kickstarter donations was spent. He and Grippi will indeed be focusing on Makr.io going forward, but in an email he stressed that they still plan to be very involved with Diaspora:
“We are just becoming a part of the community who care about d*. Its about stepping down from being the sole decision makers, but the reality is that there is thousands of people around the world who care about Diaspora. This is pretty normal for successfully, independent FOSS projects. Wordpress is a great example.”
Meanwhile, it looks like the push for a more fully “open” social network will continue to live on elsewhere — most visibly these days with the App.net initiative.