Patreon Belongs in the Fediverse

Patreon needs to become Threads before Threads become Patreon.

Patreon Belongs in the Fediverse

There's a famous quote by Reed Hastings, former CEO of Netflix, that always sticks with me:

“The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

This quote lives in my head rent-free because I think every startup that's a few steps ahead of its behemoth competitor needs to think like this.

Patreon is one such startup and I hope that they're paying attention to what Meta is planning on doing with Threads.

Instagram in the Fediverse

In a conversation with Mike McCue - CEO of Flipboard and host of the Dot Social podcast - and Rachel Lambert and Peter Cottle of Meta's Threads team, it's clear that Threads doesn't plan on being just another simple node in the Fediverse:

"You could imagine extensions to the protocol eventually saying, like, I want to support micro payments, or [...] feel free to show me ads, if that supports you" - Peter Cottle

In other words, Threads likely wants to be a monetization center for online creators and eventually compete with Patreon.

What makes this more interesting is that Instagram creators can now cross-post their content from their grid (images, carousels, and reels) directly to their Threads account. For those users, Threads will be a portal to the Fediverse for their Instagram account. If Meta turns on subscriptions, Instagram creators will not only be able to get paid for what they share on Instagram, but across the whole Fediverse as well.

Instagram will turn into Patreon overnight while tapping into the endless supply of network effects on the social web.

Meta isn't taking this lightly either - they're committed to bringing Instagram users to Threads. They're literally paying them to use the new platform and to bring their followers over with them.

Why would a creator send their audience to a third-party platform when Instagram and Threads can be a one-stop-shop with their existing followers while having access to new paid subscribers across the social web?

Patreon can no longer just be the place where creators are paid, it needs to be a place where creators can be discovered. And it cannot do that as a social silo.

Your Move, Patreon

Instagram isn't the only platform that's going to bring subscriptions to the Fediverse. Ghost is extending their platform in a way that equalizes email and ActivityPub subscribers. ButtonDown is doing the same.

Users in the Fediverse are taking things into their own hands as well. Evan Prodromou, co-author of the ActivityPub spec, has a separate Mastodon account that requires a $5/month PayPal subscription to gain access to its posts.

Go type "patreon fediverse" into a search engine of your choice and you'll find no shortage of users asking for a way to get paid subscribers on a Fediverse account. I'm sure there's a whole host of solo developers working on competitors as we speak.

It's clear a Patreon solution is something the social web needs. The question is: will Patreon be that solution?