Interview: Buffer hits App.net on day Zero
An interview with Joel Gascoigne - founder of Buffer.
In 2007 Biz Stone said the Twitter API was the single most significant thing they ever did.
Now, Buffer - and other 3rd party apps like it - are now the key to App.net's success and could just turn Twitter into "just another network provider" overnight.
I wanted to understand a little more about why Buffer was so quick to integrate with App.net (it only completes its funding today) so I started by asking Joel what prompted the addition.
Buffer recently added support for App.net. Why?
We're very excited about platforms that enable sharing, as that's our complete focus with Buffer: to help people share great articles and other content they find. App.net clearly has the potential to be a great platform for people to share content and have discussions. In addition, we've been playing with App.net ourselves (most of the team were amongst the first 200 users in the alpha) and we try our best to take the "solve a personal need" approach. We could see right away we'd want to be Buffering to App.net ourselves.
What do you understand was it that spurred Dalton Caldwell to build App.net?
I believe what makes a great, inspiring entrepreneur who is likely to have a big impact is someone who has been in a space for a long time, and has felt some clear pain points. For example, Dennis Crowley founded a startup called Dodgeball in the location space which was acquired by Google before he started Foursquare. With Dalton's previous experience of running imeem, PicPlz and App.net (previous to its current form), I'm convinced that he's put himself in perhaps the best position anyone could be in to execute on an idea like App.net. As an serial founder he's gone through a lot, he's hungry.
Is it's a good thing for the us to have a Twitter competitor?
I think competition is great for any market. I also think that by now it's quite clear that social networking doesn't need to be a market with only one product people use. People are becoming comfortable visiting multiple networks, and the networks are all pushing forward at an incredible pace. We're in very interesting times and the next few years are going to be very exciting for users and for startups.
Could Twitter have acted differently to prevent App.net coming into being?
I think every company involved is doing what they believe is, and arguably is, best for their business. I think Facebook and Twitter are still attractive platforms for developers, and both companies are still interested in having strong developer platforms. I think as an entrepreneur you have to make choices and act based on unforeseen situations, and I think Dalton has executed very well here and created a great company and community with massive potential.
Why did 5,000+ folk have put money into App.net? ( Have you? )
I believe the proposition is truly exciting for many, many people: a platform where the focus is 100% on the experience. That's why people have backed App.net and they've gone far beyond their target. I backed App.net with $100 and the Buffer team has put a combined amount close to $500.
Where do you see the Microblogging ecosystem in 3 years time?
I think this is truly just the beginning. Many still don't understand the benefits, value and potential of microblogging. Facebook has paved the way and educated people about how powerful the Internet can be for communicating and staying in touch. I think in the coming years we will see content sharing grow rapidly, that is people using these networks to share great news, articles, pictures and video they find. As Internet speeds climb and smartphone usage becomes truly ubiquitous, we'll see some interesting changes, especially with rich media.
How will App.net do things differently?
I think they've inevitably needed to build a web client with some functionality people are familiar with in order to help people understand the platform, but I think there is much more to come. A key difference is that I see a focus on listening and having a conversation about what the platform should be like from a user experience and API perspective. They already have some cool things which you don't see in other places, such as hashtag pages, and I think there's also potential for device-to-device communication via App.net to power the "Internet of Things".
What would make users shift platform?
There are always some users who claim they have "quit" a platform and closed their account. I believe, however, that these users are few and far between. I think some platforms decline because they become stale and don't innovate. Facebook is a great example of consistently changing things. Many users believe this is a bad thing, but the reason they're still thriving is because Facebook today looks drastically different to even just a year or two ago.
BufferApp seems ideally poised to unify outbound posting if the market diversifies... was this always on your roadmap?
We started out solving a single pain point: to help people post great content they found, better timed throughout the day. Many people read in a session in the morning or evening, and it was not great for them or their followers to share all the good content within that session, since they'd flood their stream with 5 items in a row and then nothing for the rest of the day. We have browser extensions and integrations with many popular news reading apps to make sharing a joy. We started just with Twitter, but we've always also had a great focus on listening to users and providing outstanding support to wow people. We soon learned that helping people post to multiple networks was also something that many would love, so we've expanded to support Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net.
Do you anticipate adding a "reader" service to Buffer to unify inbound streams or will you always remain outbound?
Our focus is on helping people with publishing, and providing great analytics as an insight into the performance of their publishing. We think there are more than enough challenges here and the experience can still be much better. There are also many platforms to help people share from. This puts us in a great position to help the awesome startups who focus completely on the "reading" aspect. We're delighted to already have integrations with Reeder, Pocket and Instapaper, for example.
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