GigaOM`s Alistair Croll is reporting that Montreal’s Identi.ca’s has received an investment from the VCs at Montreal Start Up and plans to continue building their open-source alternative to Twitter. While the amount of the financing wasn’t disclosed, Montreal Start Up’s mandate is to initially invest $25-50K in very early stage ideas and then graduate those ideas to their FounderFuel investment program which make investments between $200K to $500K. Identi.ca’s investment would have likely fallen between those numbers.
A bigger question is why microblogging companies are getting any investment at all. If Twitter can’t find revenues with the vast majority of market share, why would an open-source version make money? Identi.ca founder and CEO Evan Prodromou says open source gives the company “commercialization options that Twitter doesn’t [have].” For example the company can charge a fee for public or private implementations, or be the basis for microblogs on other web sites.
Identi.ca has some other tricks up its sleeve, too. Their APIs are Twitter-compatible, so they should work with third-party features like search, hashtags and analytics. And it’s a federated model: You can run an identi.ca instance privately, or share messages with other identi.ca servers. That allows hybrid public/private deployments that may sit better with enterprise customers.