New social network on the block, Ello, has sent out a memo telling subscribers – both current and future – not to worry, it’s sticking to its original plan, and will always offer an “ethical” ad-free social experience, forever. It’s not messing around either, and has converted itself into a Public Benefits Corporation, which forces it to abide by rules laid down in a charter.
The rules are as follows: Ello will never make money from selling ads, nor will it make money from selling user data, and should it ever be sold on to another company, the new owners must also stick to these rules. These aren’t guidelines, but legal requirements. As a Public Benefit Corporation, Ello commits to “benefitting society as a whole, not just to make money for its investors.” Ello’s decision comes after raising $5.5 million from venture capitalists.
Without ads, how does Ello intend to make money? According to the New York Times, it has plans to introduce an app store, where widgets and add-ons will be sold to let users customize the site and individual profiles. Instant messenger app Line operates a similar system, where the sale of stickers, apps, and other items earned it around $338 million in 2013.
Launched in March this year, Ello began capturing attention when Facebook and Twitter introduced unpopular methods to make money, or enforced unpopular rules. Privacy, and what social networks do with the data they store, has long been a hot topic, and Ello’s refreshing take ensured it made headlines.
However, Ello’s rapid rise may not continue for long. It’s still not possible to join the network without an invitation, and statistics show initial interest in the site has wained. Ello sent the new memo to all its subscribers, plus those on its waiting list, but the latter group would probably prefer a way to actually try the network out, than read about what makes it worthwhile.