Having signed up for Ello a week ago, I can think of tons of uses for the new social-media site.
• It’s a good place to keep a secret.
• Or confess to a crime.
• It’s THE place on the Web to find a little peace and quiet.
• If you’re into Hipster people-watching, you can’t go wrong.
And if you’re into pretentiousness, you may have found Nirvana. Case in point:
Some of the Ello warts are less frivolous. For example, one of the main selling points of Ello is the “no ads — ever” pledge. However, some watchers have suggested that since Ello has already enlisted venture capital ($435, 000) to fund its launch, it’s already headed down the Facebook path. From Aral Balkan’s blog:
Here’s how venture capital works: you go to an investor, before you’ve even built the thing you’re building and you tell them how you’re going to exit. It’s called an exit plan or exit strategy. You tell them, for example: “Hey, we’re going to get 100 million people using our new platform in two years time, how much will you give me for 100 million people?” And they go “Umm, we’ll give you this much for 100 million people because we’re pretty sure we can get that amount back several times over when we sell those 100 million people in an exit either to another company or in an IPO.”
When you take venture capital, it is not a matter of if you’re going to sell your users, you already have. It’s called an exit plan. And no investor will give you venture capital without one. In the myopic and upside-down world of venture capital, exits precede the building of the actual thing itself. It would be a comedy if the repercussions of this toxic system were not so tragic.
Let me put it bluntly: if a company has taken venture capital, you have already been sold. It’s not a matter of if, it’s simply a matter of when. (Unless the company goes under before it can exit, that is.)
A venture-capital funded startup is a temporary company that has to convince enough people into using their platform so that they can make good on the exit they promised their investors at the very beginning. It is the opposite of a long-term, sustainable business.
Does this mean that Ello is destined to forego its ad-free ways as soon as the shareholders demand it? Founder Paul Budnitz says it ain’t so in an interview with Inc. magazine:
Ello has raised $5.5 million from Bullet Time Ventures, Foundry Group, and FreshTracks Capital, Wired reported on Thursday. It had previously raised about $450 million from FreshTracks. In an interview with Inc. in September, Ello founder, entrepreneur Paul Budnitz, said the money it raised from FreshTracks did not pose a threat to Ello’s ad-free ideals, since the venture capital firm is a small, Vermont-based fund run by friends. Ello is based in Vermont.
Budnitz, a serial entrepreneur who is well-known for starting the designer toy retailer Kidrobot, said he plans to make Ello profitable by operating it on an iTunes store model, where users will ultimately pay for upgraded account capabilities on an ad hoc basis.
Ello has also reportedly registered as something known as a public benefit corporation, a somewhat new category of corporation. As its name suggests, that means Ello will function a bit like a non-profit–though it will continue to be taxed as a for-profit–with a stated goal of making a materially positive impact on society and the environment. As a public benefit corporation, all of its decisions will have to factor in the impact on shareholers, employees and the community. Additionally, it will have to make public an audited accounting of its social and environmental performance annually, according to B Lab, a non-profit that has helped create the public benefit corporation standard.
Billed as the latest “Facebook killer,” Ello is everything that Facebook isn’t. There’s no ads, no anti-porn agenda, no Edgerank system, no “real name” policy — and a lot of other positives.
So… Ello or Good-bye?
But — love it or hate it — Facebook is a powerful social-media engine. And Ello isn’t that, too.
In the meantime, should you accept an Ello invitation?
Absolutely, yes. And here’s why.
It could get good.
It’s not much now, but it could explode. And if it does what we webcartoonists want social-media to do — and that’s allow others to promote your work to their friends — then, it’s worth an early registration. Speaking of which…
In case Ello does take root. it’s worth the two minutes it’s going to take you to register — if only to make sure no one else doesn’t get your name (or your comic’s title).
It’s definitely topical. If it inspires you to a quick gag or a storyline concept, so much the better. It inspired me to do a Patreon bonus cartoon about a hipster dracula. And that begat a silly T-shirt idea.
The clubhouse principal
Since it is relatively small and intimate, this is a good excuse to have a little more personal connection with those of your uber-fans who are on Ello as well.Finally…Admit it, all of the clutter caused by the “normal” smiley was really bringing you down.