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Building a social media app by yourself is tricky

Building a social media app by yourself is tricky


For the next five weeks, The Vergecast is talking to people who work independently to build cool things on the internet, like Hive — the Twitter competitor.

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Image: Allie Sullberg / The Verge

Last year, Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter and promptly brought chaos to the company — laying off three-quarters of the staff and upending many long stable (if not always successful) parts of the business. So Twitter users began looking for a way out. Many migrated, even if only for a few days, to Mastodon, others moved to Instagram or Snap, and a lot of people declared Hive Social their new home.

Hive seemed like a cleaner, better version of Twitter, with an attractive app featuring a familiar interface — only it creaked under the sudden influx of new users. Then, the company announced it would need to shut down its servers for two weeks to fix security issues. The challenges Hive faced were enormous — as they would be for any social media company suddenly handling so many new users while wrestling with old security concerns. But Hive wasn’t a company of thousands of engineers. It only had a handful of employees.

Hive was founded by Raluca Pop in 2019. Like another social media platform founder, Pop was still in college when she began working on the app. She’s faced a number of challenges with the fast-growing app in the years since she launched it on Apple’s App Store, so for The Vergecast, Ashley Esqueda sat down to talk with her about developing Hive Social as a single developer, building a team, and facing the challenges that late 2022 posed.

This episode is the first in a five-part series we’re calling Solo Acts. Each episode focuses on someone going it (largely) alone to create something really cool on the internet. Episodes will air for the next five Mondays in addition to our usual Wednesday and Friday shows.