Ello or hell no ?

Ello or hell no ?

Social media peeps brace yourself – a new competitor has entered the online arena, and brands itself as the Facebook killer. Wowzee, never heard that modest goal before. The new network has burst onto the media scene with articles flanking you from all sides. Wired, Forbes, USAtoday, Entrepreneur and Techcrunch started writing about it, and the hype beast marched at full throttle.

Stomp, stomp. Roarrr.

I didn’t pay any attention to it, because I smelled another sensational journalist tsunami flooding the internet. But when my friends shared their Ello signups on my Facebook newsfeed, I halted. After the fifth declaration of “I’m on Ello now. Check out my profile”, my curiosity spiked.

Enter Ello – the Anti-Facebook social network.

My first reaction was – yeah, the world needs another social network like it needs a viral video of a cat farting and burping at the same time. But then again I’ve created my career through the web, so shunning off new apps and platforms isn’t going to help me succeed in the long-term. One must stay open to the changes to stay relevant.

So, what exactly sets Ello apart from its competitors ?

Ello is a minimalist social network with a mission. It wants to liberate the outcasts, e.g. the artists and free thinkers from the oppressive reign of the mega corporations. Unlike Facebook and co, it DOESN’T want to sell your information or put advertisement on your profile. Hence the Anti-Facebook label.

It’s currently invite-only and wants to grow organically. The target audience ? Users who have privacy concerns and are tired of being the product. Perfect timing, considering that Facebook’s real name policy and other shenanigans are driving some folks out.

In short, Ello wants to be the ad-free social network while staying free FOREVER.

When you read the Ello statement, you get the feeling Karl Marx himself has risen from the dead to create his anti-corporate startup – proletariat unite and connect online for free. Which is fine, if it wasn’t for the controversy regarding their financial circumstances.

Ello received $435,000 seed investment from FreshTracks Capital, a Vermont-based VC firm, according to Betabeat.

Investors usually don’t fund startups because they have money to burn. They want to see a financial ROI with the plan to sell the company. Ello’s founders claim they have no exit strategy, but that remains to be seen.
According to Forbes, the new network has seen up to 31,000 user requests per hour, spacerocketing into the social media stratosphere. But then again, online peeps are curious and want ride the trend waves, which doesn’t mean the network will survive in the long run. Curiosity doesn’t equal consistency. History proves it again and again.

Anyone remember the former Anti-Facebook social network Diaspora ?
It hyped hard with its mission to decentralize the social web. Well, it’s gotten so quiet around the Facebook killer even the flies stopped buzzing. Another case of hype gone to hell.

Will Ello treat a different path ?

Conclusion

Whenever a new social platform hits the surface, I’m skeptical and intrigued. At one hand, I don’t want to miss the next big thing and become a dinosaur. On the other hand, I don’t want to jump on the hype train and travel to WasteMyTime land. While Ello’s goal is admirable and sounds compelling to a growing user base that’s tired of getting productized, I wonder about its future impact.

Commercial networks like Facebook have to wander the line between pleasing users and investors. Make the investors mega-happy with your monetization strategies, and you lose the user. But worrying only about the user can deter your investor — if there’s no money aspect, why invest in it ? It’s a delicate balance.

Ello grows rapidly but claims it doesn’t want to sell out. It sounds hypocritical to me. The bigger you get, the more money you need, unless you go 100% opensource which Ello doesn’t plan to.
So far, it seems to be another hype beast that uses the Anti-Facebook branding to make a media splash. Let’s see whether the upstarter dies soon or becomes a real alternative.

What do you think about Ello ?

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