Mozilla leads pre-seed funding for Mastodon app

Startup Stories


Mammoth’s recently launched Mastodon app, which is trying to make it easier for users who want to join the decentralized social network, has a popular financial backer. The company confirmed that open web backer Mozilla, which invested in the company’s first general round alongside others including Long Journey Ventures and sales force Marc Benioff, is its lead investor.

The company also has a unique founding story. The app was originally developed by iOS developer Shihab Mehboob, the creator behind several apps, including the funky music app Vinyls and the Twitter client Aviary 2. The latter was influenced by Elon Musk’s Twitter API changes, which ended third-party Twitter clients, prompting Mehbob to turn his attention to the decentralized and open-source Twitter alternative Mastodon.

Mammoth was the result of those efforts, but has now been acquired by the company that manages the project, with lead developer Bart Decker.

Right now, the team at Mammoth is three full-time employees and a few contractors. And while the total investment round is not disclosed, Decrem sees the pre-seed as a small amount – “a million or two of the total round” at this stage, he says.

In addition to entrepreneurship, the New Mammoth founder’s background is in open source and consumer applications.

In ’99, Decrem worked on a Linux startup called Easel to make Linux easier to use. While others ended up building Safari and other technologies at Apple on that project, Decrem found himself at the Mozilla Foundation before Firefox 1.0 was launched. There he handled marketing and business affairs and worked on branding and international startups. He was part of search monetization negotiations, including the first Google Search deal.

He moved on to more entrepreneurial endeavors, starting the VC-backed social networking browser Flock (which got its fair share of TechCrunch coverage in its day), followed by early smartphone game maker Tapulus, makers of Tap Tap Revenge. The latter landed him at Disney after buying him as the head of a mobile games group that produced products like the “Where’s My Water” series and some “Temple Run” titles.

Some of these early efforts also involved finding and collaborating with existing developers, Decrem notes, including the original developer of Tap Tap Revenge. Later at Disney, he found a developer in QA who built a #1 game on the App Store, but not under the Disney branding. Decrem brings the builder to the group and asks, “Where’s my water?” It gave him the space to create what has become, a title that has now seen billions of downloads.

“The way I like to do things is to find someone special and go out of your way to support their vision,” DeCrem said. “I saw this flash [Mammoth founder] Shihab [Mehboob]That is why we are working together.

The two teamed up when Decrem was running a small lab working on decentralized projects, including a crypto app called KyrptoSign to access legal documents on the blockchain. But when Mastodon arrived, the team was taken over by Mammoth and now became the team’s sole focus.

Image Credits: Mammoth

The appeal of Decrem’s Mastodon isn’t just the open-source Twitter clone — something he said he only found “mildly interesting” — but how it was a place where communities were formed.

“My involvement at Mozilla reminded me of Firefox 0.7 — the beginning of Firefox,” says Decrem. “I just think there’s people wandering around here, doing cool stuff… It’s fun and interesting and everything I love about the Internet — communities are building and organizing themselves.”

“This thing is half microblogging, but half people organize communities – like Reddit, or maybe like Discord,” he continues. “It’s like a digitally native social system. And it’s decentralized. It’s really cool.”

Other companies think it’s great. Today, Flipboard announced it has joined the decentralized social web. Medium already has it, and Tumblr says it has it.

The challenge for Mammoth will not only be to attract more newcomers to the decentralized social network, but also to successfully maintain and generate revenue from the app. Decrem plans to have a $3-$5 per month subscription plan for the company within a few months, with at least half likely going toward various Mastodon server accounts.

But revenue isn’t the immediate focus – growing the user base comes first. Currently, Mammoth has at least a year of funding thanks to Mozilla’s backing, DeCreme says. And they are willing to be patient, he said.

Updated 2/28/23, 9:52 pm et to clarify the subscription fee supports other Mastodon servers, not just its own.


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