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So, what is this 'Ello' everyone's talking about?
It's a new social network, being called the “anti-Facebook”, that was birthed by a small group of designers and artists. The draw of Ello is its promise to remain ad free and not sell users data to third parties.
Nearly every popular social network is run by ad revenue
There are many people whose only job is to record your every move online. These are data miners and ad salesmen. Creepy huh? Your information is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. Not only that, but they are reading your posts and keeping tabs on your social connections. All of this is made possible by the service being offered to the user for “free”. Seth Levine, one of Ello’s backers, is so serious about keeping users data private and the network ad free, that if they can’t do things that way they simply “won’t build a business”.
Despite the recent cynicism from the press and naysayers, founder and CEO Paul Budnitz is not budging on his promise to keep the platform ad free. Also the company has filed as a Public Benefit Cooperation, which legally binds them from showing ads, selling user data to a third party, or selling the company to someone that plans on doing so. The long term business plan that his company has put in place, is said to be lucrative as well as principled.
What started out as a private network, has now become public
The social network launched on Aug. 7 with only 90 users and its growth reached viral status shortly after its launch. Once people caught wind of Ello, they wanted in; so a public version was created. Within a week they had grown to where they thought they would be in 6 months (they had reached a steady 40,000 to 50,000 requests an hour). At one point they had to put sign-ups on hold, just to make sure that the site was up to the task of taking on so many users at once. Not to mention this is an invite only network. One can only assume that the everyday user is enticed by the idea of a truly ad free network, that doesn’t sell your information to third parties.
This growth is partially attributed to Facebook’s recent crackdown on fake names. Ello allows fake names. With no shortage of users or investors, the company seems to be becoming a fierce competitor, in the social network arena. In its most recent round of investing the company has generated $5.5 million in Venture Capitalist’s revenue. Budnitz’s inbox has a new VC everyday that wants to invest in Ello. So the recent claims about Ello not making enough money seems pretty laughable.
Also with the recent acquisition of $5.5 million in funds, the company plans on being profitable very soon. Ello plans on making its revenue for expansion directly from its users. It is free to join but later Ello plans on releasing some Premium features that can be accessed for a small price. Actually many apps on the market offer free versions of their app and additional features, for a small fee.
Do you Ello?
Right now this is an invite only site. If you can’t wait for an invite then you can go to their homepage and request one. The ones who get in are allotted a certain amount of invitations, usually about 5 to 10. The goal is not to sign up everybody in the world, or even to be a competitor of Facebook, but simply to build a nice community.
So far the social network has chosen to go with a very simple design and color scheme. When users log on, they see a black and white scroll down layout. This is where the user can post status updates, pictures, links and comment on other users’ posts. Their contacts are divided into 2 columns, Friends and Noise and the user can switch between the different “feeds” with the click of a button.
Since Ello is just in its early stages, what it is going to grow into, is anybody’s guess. Only time will tell if this is truly a niche market or just a trend. Similar platforms have seen major growth, only to be abandoned in droves, months or years later; remember MySpace? In any case if you’re not into having your every little move tracked, Ello is a perfect alternative. While the popularity may only be short-lived, Ello’s promise to uphold its credo, shall not be.
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What are your experiences so far? Post them below.