Open source decentralized social network Mastodon, one of the many Twitter, er X, competitors now on the market, has historically been averse to the typical means of monetization other social networks employ, like advertising. Instead, the company has primarily funded itself via Patreon, according to its founder and CEO Eugen Rochko. Now, that’s changing as Mastodon on Wednesday announced its plan to sell merchandise to help raise more funds for its development efforts.
The new merch will include Mastodon t-shirts, mugs, enamel pins and stickers, created by artist Dopatwo. The merchandise itself will be manufactured by partner FRESH Merch using responsibly sourced materials, a Mastodon announcement explains.
“Despite our impressive accomplishments in building out the new social web, Mastodon is a non-profit with a very small team and limited resources–the core team is just two developers,” says Rochko, in the post. “100% of the revenue after recouping manufacturing costs will go to us and help us put more resources into developing your favorite decentralized social media software.”
While many popular online creators and other celebs do well with online merch sales, it’s unclear whether Mastodon’s efforts will generate significant revenue. In an online poll, Mastodon said that over 6,700 respondents said they would buy something if merch was available. That’s a promising start; however, Mastodon warns that only 250 units of each item will be available at launch, which puts a hard limit on how much funds it can raise through these efforts. (The prices of the items were not yet disclosed.)
To be alerted to when the merch goes live, Mastodon is offering a mailing list users can optionally sign up for. It will also announce the merch on its official Mastodon account.
The company didn’t provide a date when the merch would go live but says it expects the items to go on sale in the “next few weeks.”
The launch appears to be more of a test as to whether there’s truly a strong appetite for merch, and a positive response may see the company run more batches in the future.
The merch itself looks pretty cute, we’d have to say, as it’s featuring the Mastodon mascot in different poses and situations, alongside, in some cases, the familiar, purple Mastodon “M” logo. But with the limited quantities, it’s likely to sell out fast given the reported interest from Mastodon fans.