Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch
Eugen Rochko came up with the idea for and built Mastodon some six years ago during another one of Twitter’s dips. A developer who had already been interested in and was working with open source software, he got the idea for Mastodon from a federated version of a forum he’d built in high school.
The project is no longer active. He built and sold a platform that was used to manage artists' escrow.
The creator of Mastodon was surprised by its success. He is not a power user of social media and is not prone to sharing much about himself. He called into our video chat when we talked. He hasn't used any social media. When it comes to development, Rochko seems to be different from growth hackers.
We spoke with Rochko about the early days of Mastodon and how advertising may or may not factor in its future.
You have probably seen a lot of growth in the last few weeks. The rate of growth has increased or decreased since the first days of the handover. What number of users and server do you have?
If you look at the graph, you'll see that there was a huge spike in interest in the news of Musk's purchase of the social networking site. There was a spike when most of the employees were let go. The rate is much higher than it was before. There are 2.5 million monthly active users on Mastodon.
We don't have a chart of the growth rate, but right now, 4,000 apps are downloaded on each day. When Musk fired employees, we had 149,000 downloads on the two mobile platforms. The app has had more than one million downloads. The installed audience for the app was over 50,000 in October. It's 907,000 devices.
I don't know if mobile is more popular than desktop We don't have a dashboard for that.
“Moderation work is not automation-friendly. The simple cases are so simple that even if it’s a person doing it, it just takes a couple of seconds to do it. And when it’s complicated, then no automation can help. It requires a human to read into the context of the situation and to make the call.” Eugen Rochko
How much do you have at Mastodon?
Five people are contractors at the moment, and I am the only full time employee. I want to expand the team and have been working on job listings. I wish I could do it quicker. The company has been a one person venture for six years. We need more people now that it has been fine.
The only vehicle you have used to fund it so far is Patreon.
It's the main one. When a business wants to sponsor us, we built a custom platform. The European Commission gave us a public grant to help with some of the work on features. Most of the time, it's a support fund.
The majority of it is coming from people on there.
That brings in over 30,000 a month. Over the past month, the number has gone from $7,000 to $16,000. It is the only reason we can think about getting a new employee.
This is the scariest part of running a non-profit. If the donations don't come in, I'm responsible for myself, but if you hire other people and the donations stop, you're responsible for other people's jobs. It has been difficult to get other people as employees.
We want to get a few more people involved.