According to the tagline on his blog, Dalton Caldwell does things the hard way. He's certainly proven that with his latest effort, choosing to forgo traditional investment for his new social network that promises not to rely on advertising to survive, but rather to get 10,000 new users to pre-pay $50/year for membership in a Kickstarter-eqsue project before they ever even try the product. He gave himself only 30 days to hit the $500,000 goal.
To be clear, that certainly isn't taking the easy way out.
The tech elite have embraced Dalton's project, calling it both ambitious and important. According to Andrew Chen, "App.net has the potential to be something more fundamental, like the web (HTTP) or email (SMTP)."
The support of alpha geeks wasn't enough. The real challenge was getting a large number of early adopters to actually open their wallets and pay for something, and to do so without having even seen a demo of what they were paying for. That challenge proved daunting.
With only five days remaining, App.net still had to raise over $265,000. They had only raised 42% of the total goal, despite being almost 85% of the way through the campaign. Time was running out. On that same day, App.net officially released it's alpha version to backers (the public can see the global stream here).
After the announcement of this release with a clearly-titled post, "App.net is not vaporware," the rate of new backers has exploded - raising over $145,000 in the last two days alone.
The campaign has still only successfully raised 72% of their required total despite the campaign being over 90% done, but if the new backer velocity stays the same, the team will make it. If enough people rally around the need to get this done in the face of the real risk of having the campaign fail, the team could end up doing quite well.
That brings me to why I'm writing this. I think App.net is an important idea. I'd like to see it succeed. That's why I contributed pre-paid for a developer membership (find me here).
I encourage you to think about supporting as well. Isn't it time you join.app.net?