After securing 1 million users within a month (with 3 million waiting to join) Ello has secured multi-million dollar backing on its promise to provide an ad-free privacy friendly alternative to Facebook.
Ello, which launched in August, has also become a Public Benefit Corporation, which prohibits its current and any future owners from breaking that promise.
The network plans to make money by introducing micro-payments for additional features.
Investors have pledged $5.5m (£3.4m). in venture funding led by Bullet Time Ventures (an investor in Jukely, a live event recommendation service) and Foundry Group (which invested in fitness tracking firm FitBit and crowdfunded apparel retailer Betabrand).
The cash will be used to fund further build up Ello’s back-end infrastructure to help support its recent growth.
Ello CEO Paul Budnitz said Ello now has over 1 million users, with up to 40,000 to 50,000 sign-ups an hour during the initial frenzy to secure a spot in the new network. There are apparently 3 million hopeful users are on the waiting list.
Ello’s developers have agreed to make Ello a Public Benefit Corporation – which means the site cannot, for monetary gain, do the following:
1. Sell user-specific data to a third party;
2. Enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party; and
3. In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets.
Each Ello user receives five invites to send to friends. This week, Ello allowed users to obtain another 10 invites in a rather playful fashion. Request more invite codes and a dialogue box appears: Prove you are a human. Drag your favorite cat photo here.” Once you select a cat photo from a bunch, you must drag the Ello logo onto the cat’s face.
Ello remains a work in progress—but a potentially exciting one. “The great thing about developing something live, and the odd thing about it,” Budnitz says, “is we didn’t expect all these people would be watching as we do this.”