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Pebble, the Twitter Challenger, Closes Its Doors: What Went Wrong?

Why Pebble's Kindness-First Approach Couldn't Overcome Twitter's Dominance

Pebble, previously known as T2, a startup aiming to rival Twitter, has announced its shutdown due to intense competition from various Twitter alternatives and the ongoing grip Twitter has on the market. Despite a strong start with a small but engaged user community, Pebble struggled to compete effectively.

The co-founders, Gabor Cselle and Michael Greer, noted that the competitive landscape evolved faster than expected. The market for Twitter alternatives has become crowded, with platforms like Mastodon, Bluesky, Spill, Spoutible, Post, and even Meta’s Instagram Threads. Twitter’s “network effect” and its role as a breaking news platform have been hard to replicate.

“We came in with a particular angle: kinder, safer. Trust and safety. And I think our approach to moderation that we did have on the site did work,” says Cselle,

Pebble initially saw good retention and conversion rates, but it may have leaned too far into creating a “kinder, safer” space, which limited the emergence of authentic content. The absence of a native mobile app and a rebranding from T2 to Pebble may also have affected its appeal.

“We were really seized by people saying they wanted something that felt safer, where they could speak openly without dogpiling,” says Oh. “And so we were confident that was an important thing to hit. Are there other things that are equally important and a great user experience? Yes.”

Despite the shutdown, Pebble aims to provide users with the option to export their archives as a web page. However, they won’t redirect users to Twitter or any other social network.

The founders view their experience with Pebble positively and believe there is an audience for a new kind of Twitter-like platform. They plan to carry their learnings into future endeavors, emphasizing the importance of defining what great content should look like on a platform.

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