- Bluesky, one of the newer alternatives to X, is invite-only until Tuesday.
- Bluesky CEO Jay Graber says the platform has 3 million users.
- Graber is “realistic about human nature but optimistic about human potential.”
When Bluesky launched last year, it filled a much-needed void by people looking for an alternative to X as the ship formerly known as Twitter seemed likely to sink. (Not yet, in all likelihood.)
Bluesky wasn’t as confusing as Mastodon, and it wasn’t owned by the Meta like Threads. Bluesky looks and feels like old Twitter.
There was just one catch: it was available as a beta release, with an invite-only code, so hard to get at first that even Joe Biden couldn’t get his hands on it. As of Tuesday, Bluesky is finally out of “beta” and open to everyone — no codes needed.
Like Mastodon and Threads, Bluesky is an experiment in a new, “decentralized” way of managing a social app, where users can create their own communities and moderation rules. (Bluesky also has its own moderator team.)
Jack Dorsey co-founded Bluesky while still at Twitter and now sits on its board. Organized as a public benefit corporation.
Consequently, there may not be a winning competition between these X alternatives; a social new approach may be to live happily in small pockets without requiring a large scale to survive. (Would love to win a fight with Meta Threads, though.)
But has the buzz left the warehouse for Bluesky?
Business Insider spoke with Bluesky CEO Jay Graber about the app, which he says currently has 3 million users. It’s open to everyone, and coming later this month, it will have new features that connect it to the “fediverse.”
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Why did it take so long to open up to everyone?
We’re building something that looks like Twitter alternate rails so people can build all kinds of different services on top of that. Currently, an example of them is a special tape. However, all other parts of the application may be controlled by third parties. It took some time to set this up to make sure you could get it right and provide a good user experience.
Over the past year, we’ve given ourselves space to make sure things like basic infrastructure and moderation capabilities are in place. Now, we are almost ready.
Later this month, we’re opening up Federation and third-party tagging that lets people manage moderation services. So these are some things that take more time.
[Editor’s note: Federation here means that people can leave and take their followers to other apps, unlike traditional social media where it’s a walled garden.]
Is there any concern that Bluesky, which has been around for so long, may have lost momentum in terms of new users wanting to sign up?
What we’re really building is something that provides a more sustainable, long-term infrastructure. I think one of the things that happened with Twitter last year led to some of the initial influx [of new users on Bluesky] is a good example of why overbuilding should exist – we try to make it the focal point of failure [like what happened at X] it cannot happen again.
Tell me a little bit about third party moderation and feeds – what will that look like?
You’ll just log in and first you have to do “All the Feeds” we give you: We give you “Following” (chronological feed) and “Explore” which is an algorithmic feed. If you’ve never changed anything else, it’s just like a regular social app experience. But if you want to try custom feeds made by third parties, you go into your feed picker and then select feeds that specialize in niches like “Boss Feeds” or “For You.” And then you layer up your experience.
If you have a lot of new users who may be less tech savvy and have these customizable ribbons and elements – how can you not confuse using Bluesky for a norm?
A big part of our design philosophy is to give users sensible default settings, but give them the right to opt in and out. Then, if they want to go deeper and explore more custom options, they can go in and select and customize if they want.