Last issue we linked you up with invites to Ello, an interesting new platform hoping to disrupt the world of social media. In the time since, it’s started getting some real heat. Such has been its explosion in popularity over the last month, it’s needed to seek an extra $5.5m in funding to cope with the demand.
One of the reasons for its spike in popularity is that the platform is vehemently anti-advertising. Critics and the tech elite have jumped on the company’s claims that, ‘Ello exists for your benefit… it will never show ads or sell user data’, saying ‘good luck’ when angry investors come knocking – but Ello has promptly fought back, and quite emphatically too: it’s just reassigned itself a PBC, a Public Benefit Corporation. That’s a new type of corporation with a responsibility to transparency and creating a material positive impact on society. The declaration came amidst another flurry of PR from Ello, showing signed documentation from all founders swearing that it will never advertise or sell user data – and that even if it was eventually bought, its new owners would be subject to the same restrictions.
It’s not the first major startup to shun advertising. WhatsApp’s founders poured their scorn over ads and insisted part of their acquisition by Facebook held that the platform would not advertise (not that it wouldn’t use the data, though). Those sentiments aside, the arrival of Ello does point to the consumer mood and appetite for transparency – and steps beyond old-style corporate social responsibility, towards active social benefit. One to watch.