As soon as the announcement was made that Posterous had been acquired by Twitter, it was obvious to me that the service would not survive for long.
Unfortunately, this was the case. On the February15th, Posterous Founder and CEO Sachin Agarwal posted in the company’s blog that on the 30th of April, Posterous service would be shutting down. The message was short and sweet; lights were going to be “turned off” indefinitely on all desktop and mobile applications as from that moment forward.
Posterous was a great idea, very well executed, but like many others before, without a solid monetization model behind it. It’s the product of a generation of entrepreneurs that did not care too much for making money.
I can relate to this in more ways than I would like to. Making a difference while worrying about utility bills is draining and ultimately, constraints growth.
I found that a great idea wants to be born and wants to fulfill its promise. It does think it needs funding, business cases, risk assessment, or legal support. It just wants to exist. Unfortunately, a great idea does not know if its good or bad.
Posterous happened to be a good one, a very good one, however, even good ideas need fuel to run, and it does not matter how disruptive or innovative something is, if it does not have financial backing, it is not likely that it will take off. This was what ultimately sealed Posterous destiny.
Fortunately, the idea that every cloud service should be free or depend on advertising seems to be slowly fading away. Even the likes of Google is now moving from relying exclusively on Pay-Per-Click advertising and is charging for services online. I am hoping this will lead the way for other companies, particularly startups, to start thinking differently about the sustainability of their products before they hit the market. Very few ideas can survive if they do not have means to survive.
The Posterous Experience
I have nothing but great things to say about my time as a Posterous user. It had this awesome vibe about it that sometimes its hard to explain. Looking at it “scientifically”, it did not really have any disruptive functionality, but a combination of different factors made the platform special.
The folks at Posterous paid a lot of attention to detail, enabling a wonderful, consistent user experience within their platform. The Blog templates were an extension of this experience. Every element of the Blog design was carefully design with purpose, unnecessary functionality and elements was stripped away.
The only downside I can remember as a Posterous was the reliability and availability of their network. It was always been somewhat flaky, something that most users have learned to accept as the downside to a free service. This was however all too unnecessary, as I am very certain most users would have gladly paid for the service, I know I would.
Posthaven as an alternative
So how does Posthaven compare to Posterous?
Posthaven is co founded by Garry Tan and Brett Gibson, both previous co founders at Posterous. The company's pledge states that it is in this for the long run. It bravely emphasis a principle that I think should be at the core of every entrepreneurial venture; Companies need money to be able to survive.
Currently the homepage is just a splash page that talks about the companies pledge, and a bit about the service. One needs to register to fully experience everything beyond that page.
The registration process is very straightforward, email, password, subdomain url, and you are done. Keep in mind that you will need to provide credit card information to be able to login, but no charges will be made beyond the trial period. Nevertheless, payment information needs to be provided in order to access the dashboard features.
One thing I accidently noticed was that even when I did not provide my payment details at first, I was able still able to register and I think my username was immediately “reserved”, because the second time I tried to register, it made me login, even though I had not provided my credit card details on the previous attempt.
Importing my Posterous blog was extremely easy, I only needed to provide my Posterous credentials while logged in on both platforms, and the process was quick. Its worth to note that I chose to only import 70 posts, so not sure how the system will behave with bigger blogs.
The User Dashboard is very well built and easy to use. In comparison to Posterous, its as clean, but somehow feels more robust. There is an apparent understanding of what made Posterous successful, even with the bare minimum functionality available at the moment.
Every detail was looks like it was carefully engineered into the concept. The User Interface is device responsive, and looks amazing in a Tablet. There is an ability to add posts seaminglessly across devices, even on a mobile phone. A user can start a post on a desktop, and continuously edit it on other devices until its ready to be published.
It is already possible to create multiple blogs through the admin interface, and import content from Posterous. Within the blogs, the functionality is still slightly limited, but it is possible to assign a custom domain to a blog, edit its name and description, and of course, add and edit posts.
There are some features that I am hoping to see very soon. I miss Social Connections and ability to post to different social channels is a must. It would also be good to see more blog templates, but I would rather see very few amazing templates rather than a focus in quantity. Afterall, one of the Unique Selling points of Posthaven should be a “refocus” on content.
Endless widgets, plugins and functionalities that regurgitate third party content should be left for other blog platforms, like Wordpress and Blogger. Posthaven users care about the content they produce, about how its published and how its used by people. I feel this is exactly what Posthaven needs to capitalize on. Posthaven bloggers are not like any other bloggers, treating them differently, the same way Apple treated their small user base 10 years ago, looks like the right thing to do.
In short, Posthaven needs to Stick to the basic principles behind a Blogging platform for people who create unique content, stripping away everything that is a distraction, providing the tools to create and share blog posts from any device.
Posthaven is off to a great start and has the potential to become as unique and awesome as Posterous once was. It also seems to be avoiding the mistakes made by posterous by understanding that the service will need to be paid to be able to survive and evolve.