Bluesky, a decentralised communications app, is gaining attention and has become a competitor for Twitter, which is backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey. Bluesky does not have a single owner or leader and is not subject to commercial or financial interests, making it less susceptible to censorship and data collection. In April, the app had 628,000 mobile downloads – an increase of 606% from the previous month when it was made available on Android and iOS.
Twitter, on the other hand, had 14.9 million app downloads in April, representing a modest 2% increase from March. Bluesky currently has roughly 50,000 users, and its revenue-generating strategies are still unknown, although subscriptions might be a possibility.
Bluesky is invitation-only at present and highlights how Dorsey is looking to disrupt his original creation. Besides Bluesky, Dorsey is also competing head-to-head with Elon Musk via two Twitter alternatives.
Decentralised projects like Bluesky are known for their focus on privacy and are less likely to collect and sell user data. The biggest disadvantage, however, is their scalability issues. Front-end apps built on decentralised platforms tend to be clunky and lack professionalism and ease of use.
Bluesky was initially developed within Twitter in 2019, when Dorsey was still the CEO. It is built on the AT Protocol, a decentralised networking technology that could fuel future social apps and allow users to maintain their identities across multiple apps.
In February 2022, Bluesky Public Benefit LLC was formed by Bluesky project members, with Jay Graber as CEO and Dorsey as a founding board member. In April, the company announced that it had secured $13 million in funding “to ensure we have the freedom and independence to get started on R&D.”
As the desire for self-governance increases, there is a shift from centralized platforms with a great user experience to decentralized platforms that are challenging to use. Other decentralized social projects that have gained momentum include Mastodon, Lens, and Farcaster, which are all Twitter substitutes built on blockchains. They don’t sell ads or collect and sell user data, which are the common ways that social networks make money.