This one ended a little more quickly than I expected:
Our goal was to build a kinder, safer, public square. We grew from 6 users on the first day (Dec 9, 2022) to a community of 20k by October 2023. But we weren’t growing fast enough justify additional investment, and we also underestimated the number of new competitors with a similar vision who would enter the field.
I liked the name Pebble. From their about page:
From our early days as T2 to our evolution into Pebble, our ethos is consistent: creating an inviting space for genuine dialogue. The name “Pebble” signifies that even small interactions can leave profound impacts.
The company was founded as Twitter started to implode under Elon Musk’s leadership. The Pebble folks seemed to have good intentions and they started building a nice product, with maybe more polish than the usual Twitter competition.
But when I signed up several months ago it struck me that they had built another data silo without either a client API or integration with other platforms via ActivityPub. Without any changes to embrace the open web, Pebble was probably always going to fail, it was just a matter of when. This is a lesson we should have learned years ago, going back to App.net’s rise and fall.
In 2023, no one wants a centralized, closed microblogging service. We already have Mastodon, Micro.blog, Bluesky, and Nostr, and even Threads will be embracing a more open approach. This is also part of my criticism with Glass.
It also might be a story about the erratic success of VC-backed companies. Pebble received $1.1 million in funding earlier this year. That seems like a lot of money to me, but I guess it provides too short a runway for a company that needed to get very big before turning a profit. I believe the future is smaller, more open platforms, and that means we can’t lean on ad-supported models. That strategy has served us well with Micro.blog and blog hosting.
Most small businesses fail and most Twitter clones fail. It has always been this way. Hopefully we can learn from Pebble, and I wish the founders good luck on the next thing.
Conversation on Micro.blog