Since 2007 I have come to love Posterous as a platform for a number of blogs (some of which look more like proper websites than blogs thanks to Posterous’s functionality, without me having to really know what I am doing in technical terms because Posterous does that thinking for me).
Posterous’s announcement that they have now been acquired by Twitter gives me mixed feelings. I love Twitter, but for entirely its own reasons and not as a ‘replacement of’ or ‘alternative to’ any other site or social network – it adds to my life in both online/virtual and real-life terms. I am delighted for everyone at Posterous that their years of hard work are now being converted to them into cold hard cash – they deserve every dollar of that! But I also have to say… I’m worried… worried what the future may bring to Posterous users.
You see, I was thrilled when Twitter bought TweetDeck… until they launched their post-takeover version of TweetDeck, which lacked most of the functionality of its predecessor, specifically the features that made it the best desktop application for Twitter and all the other sites, media and tools it integrated (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, FourSquare, MobyPicture and so on). It was almost as if Twitter tried to kill it off by buying it.
While I’ve been able to revert to the pre-takeover version of TweetDeck, I do realise that if I bump in to any bugs or issues with it, there won’t be any support, and I doubt that under Twitter’s umbrella there will ever be a version of TweetDeck that is going to be anywhere near to what it used to be.
With Posterous there is no going back to previous versions, and I can’t seem to work out whether Twitter acquired Posterous for Posterous, or for the talented people behind Posterous… could users be set for a disappointment similar to post-Twitter-era TweetDeck?
So as pleased I am for all the people involved behind the scenes, as an end user I can’t help but be worried. And I hope that expressing that concern as publicly as this may catch the attention of the ‘powers that be’ involved and ideally tempt them away from any temptation to diminish or even kill off Posterous.
Just in case, I guess I’ll have to start studying possible alternatives. Blogger? Lacking sophistication. WordPress? Something I’ve been trying to put off while there was Posterous, as Posterous is so much easier for Not-Very-Techie types like me, especially with the help from fabulous theme developers like Cory Watilo. Tumblr? Love it, but not for the kind of thing I currently do on Posterous.
The thought of migrating my Posterous spaces elsewhere gives me nightmares, so I hope I won’t ever have to. But none of Posterous’s or Twitter’s statements on this acquisition assure me to that effect. “We’ll give you ample notice”, to me, sounds like “you better start getting ready for change”… and that worries the hell out of me.
While I realise that all these fabulous tech solutions are free to use by its end users, and that as a non-paying user I am merely an asset and not a customer, I do wish tech entrepreneurs would consider their users’ (business) continuity a bit more… that they haven’t paid in any money doesn’t mean they haven’t invested.
Without (non-paying) users, would all the money and work founders/entrepreneurs/investors/developers put in pay off in the same way and/or to the same extent like, say, Facebook’s IPO? Or like tech start-ups’ buy-outs such as Twitter’s acquisition of TweetDeck and now Posterous?
So where is the users’ return on investment?