Home | Contact us | News

Mastodon, A Rival To Twitter, Will Stay Nonprofit

Mastodon, a rival to Twitter, will stay nonprofit. Mastodon is a nonprofit and will continue to be a nonprofit, according to its founder Eugen Rochko. Mastodon's popularity has increased as a result of Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter's rival social network, taking a number of controversial actions.

Rochko claimed to have turned down at least five cash infusion offers from venture capitalists, according to The Financial Times. In doing so, he has maintained that the site's value propositions, including independent speech and the need to protect operations from management whims, would be compromised by the site's commercialization. Rochko also said that delaying the commercialization of Mastodon would act as a safeguard against management driving the business into bankruptcy.

The Mastodon engineering structure governs a decentralized group of social media platforms. Each platform is independently watched over, allowing each administrator to exercise oversight as necessary.

In late October 2022, Musk finally bought Twitter after an on-again, off-again acquisition process that had begun in April. A number of his actions have alternately confused and pleased onlookers. These include changing the content policies, hiring and firing members of the content moderation and ethics teams, launching and changing monetization plans, and reducing staff, particularly among non-engineers.

"One of the reasons I started looking into the decentralized social media space in 2016, which ultimately led me to create Mastodon, were rumors that Twitter, the platform I'd been using regularly for years at that point, might get sold to another controversial billionaire," Rochko wrote on the Mastodon blog in April 2022. Of course, there are other factors as well, such as all the poor product choices Twitter was making at the time. And now that it's actually happened, a lot of people are flocking to Mastodon for the same reasons.

Rochko took action to maintain Mastodon's commercial independence even before the Musk/Twitter controversy by securing the company's nonprofit status. He declared in August 2021 that the German government, where both Mastodon and its founder are based, had granted the company nonprofit status.

Rochko wrote on the group's blog, "A non-profit limited liability company in Germany is structured [sic] and operates similarly to a for-profit limited liability company with a few key differences." "The founding document of the company is written such that the activity of the company is working towards goals that benefit the public; the shareholders may not receive any revenue from the company's activities and can at most withdraw the funds that they originally paid in; employees may not receive extraordinarily high wages; and the company can receive donations which are then tax-free, although any other income that does not fit the definition of a donation may be received, but may not be used for any other purposes,"

Mastodon's sole owner is Rochko. At certification, he contributed 12,500 euros, or roughly $13,300, toward the 25,000-euro commitment, and he has been paying off the balance ever since. Although the organization pays a few people hourly consulting fees, mainly for development and finance work, he is the only salaried employee, according to the organization's 2021 annual report. Rochko received a monthly salary of 2,400 euros (about $2,557), according to the 2021 annual report.

The annual report covered the nonprofit's first seven months as a nonprofit, from June through December 2021. In that time, the organization received an undisclosed sum from 20 subscribers on its custom sponsorship total, as well as 55,300 euros (just under $59,000) from funding apps like Patreon. Mastodon reported spending 23,200 euros (about $24,725) during that time. On January 2, 2023, 9,411 patrons were contributing $33,465 each month to Mastodon's Patreon page, according to the site.