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Identi.ca Gets Funding to Make Open-source Twitter Variant

Identi.ca’s plans to build an open-source alternative to Twitter got a vote of confidence this week with an investment from the VCs at Montreal Start Up. While the amount of the financing wasn’t disclosed, Montreal Start Up Managing Partner John Stokes said the firm invests between C$150,000 ($120,135) and C$400,000 ($320,329) per deal.

A bigger question is why microblogging companies are getting any investment at all. If Twitter can’t find revenues with the vast majority of market share, why would an open-source version make money? Identi.ca founder and CEO Evan Prodromou says open source gives the company “commercialization options that Twitter doesn’t [have].” For example the company can charge a fee for public or private implementations, or be the basis for microblogs on other web sites.

Identi.ca has some other tricks up its sleeve, too. Their APIs are Twitter-compatible, so they should work with third-party features like search, hashtags and analytics. And it’s a federated model: You can run an identi.ca instance privately, or share messages with other identi.ca servers. That allows hybrid public/private deployments that may sit better with enterprise customers.

Yammer and Present.ly have gone after those enterprise customers, and Socialtext recently added a Signals function for employee messaging. But Identi.ca’s taking a different path. “I don’t want to be a tiny company where we get paid for 100 percent of the installs, but have a tiny base,” said Prodromou. “I’d much rather see tens of millions of installs, and make conversions off a relatively small percent of them.”

Nor is Prodromou fazed by the Twitter imitators. “I think we’re over the hump of the yet-another-micromessaging-tool wave of the summer of 2008,” he said. “The more people know about Twitter, the more entrepreneurs and CIOs there are looking for a platform like ours on which to build.”

14 Responses to “Identi.ca Gets Funding to Make Open-source Twitter Variant”

  1. Reading the post and the replies, you have to give credit to the guys from Twitter for creating the micro-blogging market.

    Identi.ca would have struggle to raise this capital if it were for Twitter creating awareness of the market in the first place.

    As micro blogging becomes an accepted practise, the demand for it to be incorporated in to business processes has certainly grown. We certainly have had to enable such functional inclusion into our software range.

    This need for integration could be a real market driver potenitall for Indenti.ca.

  2. rene levesque

    Bravo to Boris for the explanation to “Why another twitter clone?”

    Bravo to Evan and everyone for their work so far. Listened to Evan on LinuxOutlaws.com podcast a few months ago and while I wasnt too excited at first, I have gotten to appreciate what Laco/Identi.ca can bring.

    I like the fact that unlike Twitter, I can micromessage and spawn many communities (federation).

    We’ve talked about this at work and while there is not way that Gmail, Twitter and similar services would ever be used here.
    Identica/Laconica could allows us to run our own server and brand it too and control everything.
    It might not go through after all but definitely is something were going to be looking at closely.

    The upside is much higher than with Twitter and its free as in beer and free as in GPL/freedom.

  3. Thomas Whitney

    It is inevitible that the great success of Twitter will be replaced by other social sourcing. And this one sounds really hopeful in it’s multi-functionality. The main concern I have and I’ve said this before is digital security. Twitter has shown us that this aspect is critical.

  4. This is great news. I don’t question why this funding happened? Twitter is certainly ahead, but this market is just beginning. Also, enterprise will want to host this themselves. I think identi.ca can become the Ning of micromessaging spawning many communities. All good.

  5. Boris Anthony

    Congrats to Evan and team!

    Jaiku only works on Google App Engine. Not many people use that dev platform. (But congrats to Jyri and his team as well! :)

    Identi.ca is not a Twitter clone. It is a microblogging platform.
    I remember the same sort of questions around the creation of Movable Type and WordPress: “Why would anyone want to clone Blogger?!”
    If they play their cards right, they could be a sort of WordPress of the microblogging market.

    cheers ;)

  6. I am pretty excited to see what Laconica can do with the software and Identi.ca in particular. Identi.ca is still a long way away from Twitter but it has a pretty decent following. That being said Twitter has improved its service and, in the process, has addressed many of the issues that drove users away.