Ello, the ad-free social network that styles itself as the ‘anti-Facebook’, has raised $5.5 million in a new round of venture funding.
The start-up has been live for months but gained new ground this September as Facebook’s ban on drag queens using fake names led to an exodus of the LGBT community to Ello.
The site defines itself with an anti-advert ideology. “Your social network is owned by advertisers," it says. "Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data […] We believe there is a better way.”
And it seems the company is backing up this rhetoric with some solid legal provisions. The New York Times has reported that the company is planning to reincorporate as a public benefit corporation with a charter that forbids it from “using ads or selling user data to make money.”
Ello co-founder Paul Budnitz told the paper: “It basically means no investor can force us to take a really good financial deal if it forces us to take advertising.”
Mr Budnitz has previously said that unlike the ad-supported models of massive internet behemoths such as Google and Facebook, Ello will work on something nearer to a ‘freemium’ model – with customers asked to pay small amounts for extra features such as managing multiple accounts from a single email address.
Mr Budnitz also explained that the extra money would help to build some solid infrastructure from the site as well as add new features such as a setting for NSFW tags (the network has billed itself as ‘porn friendly’) and better ways to flag inappropriate messages like spam and abuse.
Ello has grown from just 90 users in August to more than a million this month, reports the Times. The real challenge will be keeping this sort of buzz and good feeling alive – something money can’t buy.Reuse content