Jack Dorsey-Backed Bluesky Gains Traction As App Downloads Surge 600% in April

The decentralized social messaging platform is attracting attention, but has a lot of catching up to do before it can take on Twitter

Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk
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The Jack Dorsey-backed social messaging app Bluesky saw downloads surge 606% in April as it gained traction as a possible alternative to Twitter.

The app had 628,000 mobile downloads in April, a 606% surge from March when it debuted, CNBC reported, citing data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

Twitter downloads still far surpassed the total, the reported noted, with 14.9 million app downloads in April. In fact, that figure represented a 2% uptick from 14.6 million downloads in March.

But invite-only Bluesky is getting more attention now than a different decentralized messaging app, Mastodon, which garnered a lot of chatter in November after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

Like the early days of Twitter, activity on Bluesky feels a bit looser and less serious, and is drawing more celebrities, newsmakers and journalists.

Bluesky was initially launched in 2019 as a project within Twitter when Dorsey was still CEO, CNBC noted. It was transferred in February 2022 to a Bluesky Public Benefit LLC, with Jay Graber as CEO and Dorsey as one of the founding board members.

Two months later, as talks were underway with Musk about joining Twitter’s board, the prelude to his outright purchase of the company, Bluesky announced that it had pulled in $13 million in funding “to ensure we have the freedom and independence to get started on R&D.”

The goal, the post said, was to “develop technologies that enable open and decentralized public conversation.”

Notably, Mastodon turned down five funding offers from Silicon Valley, with the platform’s founder stating he was determined to keep the crowdfunded, open-source platform non-profit. “Mastodon will not turn into everything you hate about Twitter,” said Eugen Rochko, the German software developer who created the platform in 2016.

Dorsey has also backed another potential rival for Twitter, donating 14 bitcoin, worth about $245,000, in December to a decentralized social media project called Nostr, that lets users own their online identity, CNBC said. One app built on this network is Damus, another is the bitcoin Lightning Network, which lets users exchange the cryptocurrency directly over the network.

The new apps still have the challenge of scale – demonstrated by the gap in the number of downloads of Bluesky versus those of Twitter, CNBC said. With about 50,000 users, it remains well behind Twitter, which had 200 million users when Musk bought it, and especially Facebook’s 3 billion active users.

Since the sites don’t accept advertising or gather user data to sell, the report said, there’s also the question of how they could make any money.