Paul Budnitz is 47 and owns a bicycle shop in Burlington Vermount. He is also the co-founder of Ello, a new social network that went viral last September. One might ask if this is another Facebook in the making? Well, apparently not. Ello has absolutely no Ads, no data mining and there never will be, says Todd Berger, also a partner.
As the story goes, Ello launched in beta mode on August 7, and by September end, the team received 50,000 requests per hour to join.
Ello has been referred to as anti-Facebook: on the site’s ‘About Page’, it’ is described as a “simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.” This is a space where creative people can collaborate and share ideas without worrying about privacy.
Ello is by invite only. One can either receive an invitation to join by one of its existing members or send in a request. Lucian Föhr, another partner, explains this philosophy: “We don’t want every person in the world to be on it, so we don’t have to design for the lowest common denominator.”
If you do manage to wrangle one, you’re taken to a stripped-down white page where content is divided into Friends (the people you follow) and Noise (everyone else). As on Tumblr, users can post pictures or text; video and audio capacity is coming soon. Unlike Facebook, Ello doesn’t require members to use their real names.
So far Ello has raised $435,000, all from FreshTracks Capital, a venture firm focused on New England businesses in the USA. The plan is to turn Ello into a profitable, sustainable company and not just the hot new social network of the month. The business uses a freemium model, meaning the basic platform is free and features can be added for a small fee—just as users buy apps for their iPhone.