Mastodon rejects more than five investment offers to stay a non-profit

Founder Eugen Rochko says the site's not-for-profit status is "untouchable."
Loukia Papadopoulos
Twitter and Mastodon are rivals.jpg
Twitter and Mastodon are rivals.

hapabapa/iStock 

Open-source microblogging site Mastodon is holding on to its non-profit status, having rejected more than five investment offers from Silicon Valley venture capital firms in recent months, according to a report by The Financial Times published on Wednesday.

Twitter rival Mastodon has seen a significant rise in users since Elon Musk bought Twitter in October. German software developer Eugen Rochko, who founded Mastodon in just 2016, told The Financial Times he had received offers from more than five U.S.-based investors to invest substantial amounts of money in his social media platform.

An untouchable status

However, Rochko refused to play with his site’s non-profit status, calling it “untouchable.”

“Mastodon will not turn into everything you hate about Twitter,” further added Rochko. “The fact that it can be sold to a controversial billionaire, the fact that it can be shut down, go bankrupt and so on. It’s the difference in paradigms [between the platforms].”

It might be this approach that Musk finds problematic. Just two weeks ago, Twitter temporarily suspended the accounts of Mastodon after they tweeted information about the flight path of Musk’s private jet. 

Rochko wrote a blog post concerning the event saying it was a “stark reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what you can and can’t say.” He also shared that monthly active users of Mastodon had risen from 300,000 to a whopping 2.5 million between October and November 2022.

In fact, the first two weeks alone post Musk's buyout saw more than a million people join Mastodon taking its total user count at the time to 1.6 million. 

Same, same but different

Mastodon offers similar services to Twitter but consists of many decentralized, independently moderated servers. This means that unlike Twitter, which is one website, Mastodon is made up of thousands of websites that talk to each other. New users sign up for one such website or server but are not limited to following people or posts on that server alone.

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Mastodon currently has a single shareholder: Rochko who paid himself a mere €2,400 (U.S. $2,557) per month last year.

Rochko has said that Mastodon has always relied on donations to fund the platform and will continue to do so. It currently boasts more than 8,500 donors on the membership platform Patreon.

For now, Mastodon seems to be complementary to Twitter as both platforms boast significant users and Twitter still has the upper hand in this aspect. However, that may not always be the case.

Rochko has said in the past that he hopes Mastodon will one day replace Twitter and other commercial social networks. “It’s a long road ahead but at the same time, it’s bigger than it ever has been,” he has stated.

Will Rochko’s ambitions come to life or will Twitter continue to reign supreme in the world of social media?