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Startup pitch: Fediverse VIP

An illustrative sketch of a new service

Here’s my pitch for a fediverse product for organizations.

Think of it as WordPress VIP for the fediverse: a way for organizations to safely build a presence on the fediverse while preserving their brand, keeping their employees safe, and measuring their engagement.

We’ve established that the fediverse is large and growing: Threads has around 130M monthly users, Flipboard has 100M, Mastodon has a couple of million, and there’s a very long tail. And the network is growing, with more existing services and new entrants joining all the time. It is the future of the social web.

But the options for organizations to join are not fully aligned with organizations’ needs:

  • Flipboard is a good solution for publications to share articles directly, but not individuals to interact as first-class fediverse citizens.
  • Threads allows anyone to have an independent profile, but there’s no good organizational way to keep track of them all.
  • Mastodon allows you to establish communities, but you need to work with a hosting provider or install it yourself.
  • There’s no really great way to know that a profile really does belong to an organization. For example, on Threads, verification is at the ID level, and costs an individual $11.99 a month.
  • There’s no way to style profiles to match your brand, or to enforce brand guidelines.
  • There’s no analytics.
  • There are no brand or individual safety features like allowing safety teams to co-pilot an account if it’s suffering abuse.
  • There’s no shared inbox to manage support requests or other enquiries that come in via social media.

Fediverse VIP is a managed service that allows any brand to create individual fediverse profiles for its employees and shared ones for its publications, on its own domain, using its own brand styles, with abuse prevention and individual safety features, and with full analytics reporting.

For example, if the New York Times hypothetically signs up for Fediverse VIP, each of its reporters could have an account, letting everyone know that this is a real New York Times account. If you click through to a profile, it will look like the New York Times, with custom links that click through directly to NYT content. On the back end, multiple users can contribute, edit, and schedule posts for shared accounts.

Each Fediverse VIP instance has its own analytics, so you can learn more about the content you’ve published and how it performed — and build reports that instance administrators can share with their managers. And in the unfortunate event that an account suffers abuse, a member of their staff can copilot an account and field incoming messages, or a third-party service can be brought in to help ensure everybody is safe. There are full, shared blocklists on both an individual and domain level, of course. And highly-available support and training is included.

Finally, components, libraries, and APIs are made available so that social features — including “share to fediverse” — can be deeply integrated with a brand’s existing site.

Fediverse VIP is an annual subscription, tiered according to the number of followers an instance receives. Its first market would be media companies that are having trouble figuring out how to maintain a presence and maintain both trust and audience attention in the midst of rapid change in the social media landscape.

The venture would be structured as a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation, and would raise traditional venture funding in order to become the way organizations maintain an institutional presence on the open social web. As part of its mission, it would seek to devote resources to make the open social web as big and as successful as possible.

This isn’t a deck; it’s more of a first-draft sketch. But I think there might be something here?

Obvious disclaimers: this is a sketch / idea, not a solicitation. Also, the New York Times is just an example and had nothing to do with this idea.

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