The new CEO and owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, is rattling the cage on his social network, shaking many feathers inside and outside the company. But while some in the tech world describe that kind of chaos as a garbage fire, others see it as something completely different: an opportunity.
Years old federated social networks, older social platforms that have their own issues, and a cacophony of pre-existing fringe efforts are all emerging as possible alternatives to Twitter. And in that spirit also completely new ideas.
One of these is hatched by Gabor Csellea returning founder looking to build what he described to me as “a new Twitter.”
But as a first step to spark interest in his new Twitter, Gabor compose a registration list for people to register their interest while he works away. (Note: The name on the signup page, T2, appears to be short for Twitter 2, but Gabor says it’s just a temporary name.)
Now you may be wondering, why pay attention to this? Isn’t Gabor a little ahead of the curve here? He doesn’t have a name yet, or even a product.
Well, yes. In that sense, Gabor is just one of the hundreds of millions of founders in the world who are scrambling for ideas. But there are a few things that set him and his alt-Twitter effort apart.
For starters, he is a returning founder who sold his first company, the YC-based mobile email startup reMail, to Google. He sold his second company, the native advertising startup Namo Media, to Twitter itself.
He’s worked on products at those two titans between and after those acquisitions, and that experience — he’s focused on timeline, new user onboarding, and Twitter logged-out experiences; and on many, many different consumer ideas, a director of Area 120, Google’s internal incubator project, has given him a taste of what’s interesting and what isn’t. And also what works and what doesn’t.
Gabor left Google in July 2022 and has been tweeting his daily journey ever since to find out what to do next. (Day 106was spent at toptecheasy.com Disrupt, where he came to see Paul Davison, another con artist, talk about the highs of Clubhouse and the low lights of Highlight.) Gabor’s public chronicle has given him some Twitter-like viral boost and attention and of course insight into the conversation about Twitter itself.
He tells me that Elon’s initial mobilization to buy Twitter sparked tremendous interest among his friends and contacts, who chatted dejectedly about how the whole thing was going to fall apart.
Then Musk did buy it. And then the layoffs hit – a tipping point for Gabor.
“I’ve been thinking about a new Twitter for a while,” he said. “But after several friends of mine who were still fired from the company last week, I thought to myself: this is what I’ve been thinking about for so long! Maybe now is the time.’”
Gabor is currently working on big ideas for a long time.
“I want to build the next public square for discussion. I want it to be delicious and fun, rewarding and valuable, and safe from harassment,” he tells me. “We now have 15-20 years of experience in moderating content on the web, so let’s build that in.”
He is also a big fan of Andrew Chen’s Cold start concept. For his own cold start, Gabor focuses first on bringing together a critical mass of people — a community that kicks off when “T2” launches. According to the Google doc, this is currently September 2023, a date when Gabor tells me he could try to move up the ranks.
He has even had some investor interest, which he built up through iMessage. That inbox includes a former Twitter exec investor he won’t name, who has already texted asking how much money Gabor would like to get this new bird off the ground.
And he’s had plenty of unsolicited advice. Twitter is perfect for that.
“Someone asked last week, why doesn’t someone just start a new Twitter? It would only take 3 days and $50 million,” he said. “That’s why I was the first to wonder what a roadmap might look like. I don’t think it would be a three-day build for me, but there isn’t $50 either. million.”
This raises many other questions… not least why he thinks he can build what Twitter has never been able to build itself, or why even more centralized social media walled gardens have any future at all, given all the problems we’ve seen in the gardens we saw. have today.
For now, his hunch is what he has: creating something from scratch will be easier than trying to fix something that’s already big and in business, and it certainly won’t be as simple as bringing together what he calls “the best people” but not impossible either.
“I think I see this empty space now,” he said, “and I want to be in that space.”
Sign Up here if you want to take a look too.