Home Science Why I Really Left Diaspora*

Why I Really Left Diaspora*


I just saw the posting from [Diaspora co-founders Daniel Grippi, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, and Max Maxwell Salzberg] with their explanation of why I left.  I hadn’t planned to post anything more about it than what I had already said.  But I was pretty upset when I read their account, a little bit because what they wrote is a blatant lie, but mostly because their description makes me sound like some power-grabbing impulsive whack job, and I may be many things but I’m not greedy, I’m not power hungry, and I really don’t think I’m an impulsive whack job.  

The truth of the matter is that I have worked for Diaspora* for the past year-and-a-half without every receiving a single dollar in compensation.  I wasn’t doing it for the money — I was doing it solely because I believe in the idea, and it was fun for me for a very long time.  And then, it wasn’t fun any more.  I learned relatively recently that the business was not being managed the way I thought it should have been.  So I wrote to the board and said that either they needed to find new leadership — me or somebody else — or I wouldn’t be able to continue to be involved.  So they offered me the position of President and CEO (still unpaid, of course, since we don’t have a lot of extra money), and I accepted.  And I did write some messages referring to myself as President and CEO because I had been told I was.  And then I found out that, although the offer had been made, no legal changes had occurred to that effect.  When I insisted that they change my legal status, the board told me they were reconsidering the offer and wanted to negotiate some more.  So at that point, I put my foot down and said things either had to change immediately, or I was going to resign as President and CEO and leave Diaspora entirely.  As you all know, they decided to let me go.  And so I went.

This is the last message I will send on this topic, no matter what other ridiculous statements about me may be released, including that I’m secretly part of the Stanford Puerto Rican mafia, that I have a hideout in my basement where Mark Zuckerberg and I plan world domination, that I was named after Yosemite National Park, or that I ever contacted Dan, Ilya, Max, and Rafi for any reason other than I thought their idea was a great one, and I thought a little band of 19- and 20-year-olds could use a little business mentoring to make it all happen.  

I will also try to remember what it felt like when I was 23-years-old and somebody criticized or ditched me, and my feelings got hurt.  I’m sure I probably also reacted in a way that was less than impressive.  And I’m sure 10 years from now when they are my age they will look back on their behavior and be a little bit embarrassed or ashamed of it all.  But then again, isn’t embarrassing yourself the entire point of your early 20s anyway?  🙂

Ultimately, I’m just happy to be out and to return to my pre-Diaspora life of Stanford and @Liberationtech, and I wish everybody still involved in Diaspora the best.  

That is all.


  • The following email is what prompted Yosem’s response, posted above. Also, click here and here and here for some background on the Diaspora* project. Yosem’s bio is here, and I also quoted him extensively in Netroots Rising. I’ve known Yosem since 2003, when he was national Hispanic coordinator on Gen. Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign, and we’ve been good friends since that time. I can attest to Yosem absolutely NOT being about money, given that he’s had many lucrative business opportunities come along over the years but instead has continued to pursue his PhD thesis, teaching, and projects that engage his curiosity. I can also attest that Yosem is one of the most honest, ethical, also brilliant people I know. For all those reasons, I have absolutely zero reason to disbelieve – and every reason to believe! – his account of what happened at Diaspora*. I wish Yosem well in his future endeavors, which I’m sure will be successful. As for Diaspora*, let’s just say that after what I’ve heard about its management, I wouldn’t hold my breath for that project to be going anywhere fast (or slow for that matter)…

    Hey everybody,

    A lot of people have been asking us about Yosem’s recent departure from Diaspora*.

    We loved working with Yosem and he did really great work while he was here, especially his work with all of you.  We’re really sad that the he’s gone.  

    His note raised questions, however, and with all the energy all of you give to Diaspora*, you more than deserve an explanation.   So here’s the deal.

    For a long time, we had discussed with him the possibility of him becoming not just an awesome advisor but the President of the Diaspora* Foundation.  A couple of weeks ago, in discussions about what terms would go with that new role, we agreed to consider some things he had proposed.  Nothing was formally agreed to or signed, but at that stage he announced to the community that he was President.  Last week, it became clear that we couldn’t meet the terms that he was asking for.  At that point, suddenly, he left.

    It came at a tough time for all of us, so close to our upcoming launch.  The launch will be huge, and it’s just around the corner, and there’s a ton to do.  It will be a challenge to pull off with Yosem gone, but we know we can do it with your help.  

    Thanks to all of your contributions and hard work, Diaspora* has been growing like a weed, in all possible ways.  #NewHere, scaling, new pod runners, streamlining features, and inviting more people all mean that Diaspora* is ready to go prime time.  In fact, yesterday (Sunday) was the busiest day in Diaspora* history, which is even more impressive as Sundays are usually 20-30% less traffic, week over week.  This is partially due to us refining features, but mostly to do with the amazing work you all are doing showing people first hand how awesome a place Diaspora* is.

    One of the things we’ll all miss most about Yosem was his tireless keeping-in-touch with everyone on this list and other volunteer lists.  He was super-human about this, so we should mention that it may not be possible for us to stay on top of as many communication channels as thoroughly as he did, especially as we get ready for the launch.  

    In Yosem’s absence, Peter Schurman will be leading our preparation for the publicity aspects of the launch, with help from many of you.  He’s put together a really strong plan, and he’ll be in touch with many of you in the days ahead, but please understand if he’s not able to follow up with everyone.  He’ll have to be focused in the limited time we have.

    Because of all you’ve been doing, we’re on the edge of a really exciting moment.  You, Diaspora*’s community, are the ones who’ve created Diaspora*, who make it the amazing place that it is today, and who will make a huge difference in the world when we launch, just a few days from now.

    We’re moving at full steam ahead, and are very grateful to have you, Diaspora*’s community, doing all you can to make this launch a success.


    – Dan, Ilya, and Max