Pownce V. Twitter – Remembering An Old Social Media Battle

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

Pownce V. Twitter. What’s Pownce you ask? What’s fun about 2012 and the emergence of Social Media as both a term and an industry (remember when “New Media” was the preferred term about three years ago?) is the assumed permanence of some platforms and because so many people have entered the space that are in it because it’s popular to be here.

But there was a time, in this Galaxy, not too many years ago, when that wasn’t the case. It was 2007, and Twitter was a one-year-old company started by Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey (and as I recall has one pretty cool party at an SF Nightclub called Mighty), was facing a big challenge from another microblogging firm called Pownce. In fact, when I first jumped into the user fray that year, Pownce was becoming the place to be, and Twitter was an also-ran. Seriously.

What so many people in the San Francisco / Oakland Social Media Zone (I just decided to call it that, or “SOSMEZ”) were jazzed about what Pownce was started by the popular engineer Kevin Rose, who’s companies Digg and Revision3 were growing and Rose was on a roll, and Leah Culver and Mike Malone. In fact, the blog MappingTheWeb called Pownce “The Next Big Thing:”

It’s amazing when such a simple application comes along and re-invents the wheel. This was the case earlier this year with Twitter. Now the same can be said for Pownce. Though still in private BETA and inaccessible to most, the features and functionality have amazed thus far. Actually, what is most amazing is the simple concept and implementation. Kevin Rose has struck gold again. His most heralded start-up to date, Digg, was developed from a simple idea. Pownce is no different – and it is poised to take the Internet by storm.

What was neat about Pownce was how easy it was to share Mp3 files, so a band could really get its music out there to friends and followers fast. Also, conversations were more “siloed” – it was harder for a random person to just jump in, as was and is the case with Twitter. (And what some hated about Twitter at the time.)

Moreover, Pownce, with a pro account of just $20 a year, was poised to ramp-up and monetize faster that Twitter. But that charge was necessary to handle the file-sharing duties established.

In fact, the ability to share files other than photos is something that was lacking in Twitter then, and still doesn’t exist today, though I’m not sure it’s not as necessary now, considering the platform alternatives and how Twitter’s user base has evolved.

And something else that Pownce had at the time that Twitter lacked was reliability – Twitter was down a hell of a lot in those days. The battle between Pownce and Twitter grew such that there were two camps – Kevin’s and Evan’s – and while Jaiku could have been the third alternative, Google ate it out of existence on October 27, 2007.

Check out this video review I dugg up; it was made June 27, 2007 by Allen at CenterNetworks:

What Happened To Pownce?

Pownce was eventually sold to the blog platform developer Six Apart, and shut down in early December 2008. This is what Culver wrote on Pownce blog:

We have some very big news today at Pownce. We will be closing the service and Mike and I, along with the Pownce technology, have joined Six Apart, the company behind such great blogging software as Movable Type, TypePad and Vox. We’re bittersweet about shutting down the service but we believe we’ll come back with something much better in 2009. We love the Pownce community and we will miss you all.

Allen blames Kevin Rose for this, staying that he so fell in love with using Twitter and developing a base of 75,000 followers along the way, that he failed to use his follower base to build-up Pownce.

I blame the same closed system design that some loved about Pownce for failing to permit it to reach the organically driven growth levels Twitter started to see back then. While some may not like others butting in to their conversations, the sheer exchange of information is nothing short of wickedly efficient. That’s why Twitter played such a key role in the Arab Spring – I don’t think Pownce could have had as dramatic an impact on the politics of the region.

Stay tuned.

About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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