Pebble Shuts Down…But Starts a Mastodon Instance?

Could the Pebble community live on as part of the Fediverse?

It’s really hard to run a startup, especially when that fledgling company is trying to prop up a new social network. Sadly for the “kinder and safer” upstart Pebble (formerly T2), the platform operators have decided to shut down.

Yes, we did lose most of the invested capital, and I feel like we have let our community down. But I think trying to build T2 / Pebble, and failing, was worth it.

Gabor Cselle, cofounder of Pebble

Gabor Cselle, one of Pebble’s co-founders, offered a rare insight into some of the joys and pains that comes with the territory. Trying to bootstrap a new network from the ground up is no easy task, even in the best of times. Throwing in the towel can feel like a bittersweet development, especially in light of the mistakes and successes that happened along the way.

One of my browser windows still had cached, so here is a last screenshot of the site.

— Gabor Cselle (@gabor)2023-11-01T23:48:19.888Z

There is a silver lining: is gone, but has just recently launched. Gabor has stated, for the time being, that this new Mastodon instance is “just an experiment”, but he appears hopeful that former Pebble community members will sign up there.

Joining ActivityPub would have been a big engineering effort, but federation could have brought in enough interesting content to make sticking around be worth it.

Gabor Cselle, in a retrospective on Pebble’s platform

The site already has over 260 active users, which is a healthy sign for a relatively young community instance. Some Mastodon users have also suggested building on Elk for the frontend, similar to what Mozilla is doing with Should Pebble take that route, they might even be able to recreate their old platform’s look and feel.

Pebble’s UI, left, and Elk, right. The two may look pretty different, but a lot can be achieved with some adjustments to the styling.

We wish the Pebble team the best on this new potential endeavor, and hope that joining the Fediverse helps foster and grow the community they’ve already created.

Update: A user named blobcat is already hard at work in recreating the Pebble frontend design for Mastodon. Right now, it’s just a theme for the Mastodon interface, but there is some hope that maybe, just maybe, the design might become the default on Pebble Social.

Sean Tilley

Sean Tilley has been a part of the federated social web for over 15+ years, starting with his experiences with back in 2008. Sean was involved with the Diaspora project as a Community Manager from 2011 to 2013, and helped the project move to a self-governed model. Since then, Sean has continued to study, discuss, and document the evolution of the space and the new platforms that have risen within it.

One Comment

  1. @mike the only Pebble I knew about was the smartwatch company (you know, the only smartwatch I’ve actually used the most as a smartwatch ✌️😅).

    But it’s good from @gabor they don’t leave their users in the dark! Hopefully they’ll find a good place here in the Fediverse 🥰

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