Ello sets out its stall as the alternative social network very early on, with a manifesto which reads: no ads, no data-mining, no algorithms that make decisions about what you should see, no turning users into products. Prospective new users that agree to the manifesto are put on a waiting list for an invitation, with exclusivity just one way that Ello has created such a buzz.
Ello: A new vision for social media?
Founder Paul Budnitz seems ready to take on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) at its own game. “We see Facebook as an advertising platform not a social network,” says Budnitz. “Users are products at Facebook. They want to know as much as possible to advertise to you.”
Facebook helped Ello garner more interest following a misstep last month. Mark Zuckerberg’s boys deleted drag performers, including Sister Roma and Lil Hot Mess, from the site because they were not using their real names. The LGBTQ community protested Facebook’s decision, and soon flocked to Ello, which allows users to maintain their profile with any name that they like.
With interest piqued, Budnitz sat back and watched things snowball. He claims that the site was getting 4,000 interested new users per hour, a number which he claims has now reached 50,000 sign ups per hour. Kashmir Hill of Forbes asked Budnitz to clarify these numbers, and the figure actually pertains to a combination of people creating new accounts, sending out invites and requesting invitations.
The most exclusive club in town
Profile numbers have been restricted by the need to wait for an invitation to join, which in turn has increased public interest. However, users who have succeeded in opening an account have so far been disappointed with the features available.
Although Budnitz admits that the site is a work in progress, users have complained that they couldn’t block other users. The site will enable users to do so this week, and will replace advertising revenues by charging members for extra features.
It remains to be seen whether Ello can iron out the bugs and kick on from the early hype to become a viable alternative to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).