Was Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover the Call for Decentralized Social Apps?

Former Meta and Pinterest exec Salil Shah joins Sequoia-backed decentralised social layer-1 blockchain, DeSo, while Mastodon hit 1 million monthly active users on Monday.
Image source: Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Quick take:

  • Salil Shah was most recently a senior director at Meta Fintech.
  • DeSo is a layer-1 blockchain powering content-rich social applications.
  • Decentralized social network Mastodon hit more than 1 million monthly active users on Nov 7.

Elon Musk’s Twitter buyout did not come without controversy as he reportedly fired hundreds of Twitter employees last Friday and started charging $7.99 per month for the verified blue tick service. 

With users disgruntled, many have started looking for alternative solutions. German musician Apparat, who has a following of 43,100 on Twitter, floated the possibility of switching to the decentralised social media platform, Mastodon. Some of his followers responded that Mastodon isn’t as user-friendly as Twitter, but “will do until something better comes along.”

While Mastodon offers familiar features like hashtags, replies, bookmarking and “boosting” (similar to retweeting), users on the ad-free, volunteer-run network would have to pick a server in order to interact with others on the same server or outside of it. Each server can filter out undesirable content.

Following the drama surrounding Musk’s Twitter takeover, it’s no surprise that Mastodon has surpassed 1 million monthly active users, according to CEO and lead developer Eugen Rochko who revealed the news on Nov 7. TechCrunch reported that half a million users flocked to the Germany-based platform since Oct 27.

Today, DeSo, the layer-1 blockchain powering content-rich decentralised social applications has appointed former Meta and Pinterest exec, Salil Shah, as chief operating officer. DeSo has raised a total of $200 million in funding from Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase, CAA, and others.

Shah was most recently a senior director at Meta Fintech. Prior to that, he was head of business development and corporate development, monetization at Pinterest and new business development lead at Google. He joins DeSo as the emerging “decentralized social” category is starting to show signs of early growth, with DeSo recently hitting 120% month-over-month growth.

“This growth is being driven by DeSo’s ecosystem of hundreds of third-party apps, which are now starting to find retention,” says DeSo founder Nader Al-Naji. For example, Diamond, a blockchain-based Twitter-like app, and Desofy have earned creators over $20 million in their early days off of novel monetization primitives like social tipping, social NFTs, and social tokens.

Meanwhile, tools like OpenProsper, a social block explorer, offers insight into the ecosystem. Other novel apps like Pearl, a web3 Instagram, NFTz, a decentralized NFT marketplace, and DAODAO, a social Kickstarter-like fundraising tool, are launching.

Recently listed on Coinbase, DeSo is on a mission to power creator-focused social applications. The platform’s new hire comes after Twitter founder Jack Dorsey recently proclaimed that Twitter should be “an open-source protocol” and the recent purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk.

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