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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Startup site Ello fails to compete as a strong Facebook alternative

Deeming itself the “anti-Facebook,” the new social network “Ello,” which boasts a simple and private yet also ad-free interface, is turning many heads. While the website, still in an invite-only beta stage, is committed to retaining an optimized user experience, it is dooming itself to failure as an ineffective and unsuccessful business.

While the company vows to sell neither advertisements nor user data to third parties, critics question whether the business can sustain itself on only in-site purchases. But either way, Ello has gone beyond a verbal promise to actually declare itself a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), a company geared toward societal benefit instead of profit. Ello also included this information in its charter, legally binding the company to upkeep the ad-free and privacy terms even in the event of acquisition or bankruptcy.

On the consumer side, the biggest qualm that the users have is that the website’s layout itself is confusing despite being aesthetically pleasing. The site, however, shows much promise in its idea for anonymity and consumer commitment, which has helped it collect the attention of venture capitalists, recently raising a sum of $5.5 million a few weeks ago.

In some ways, though,, the site itself is a publicity stunt. The entire concept behind Ello challenges the tech-giant Facebook, which is risky to say the least. While Ello promises to never place ads on its site or target user data, it does plan to build its company buy selling stickers.

Yes, you read that right — stickers. Regardless of the mass attention the site has received and the influx of users, a business cannot sustain itself by selling stickers. Ello oozes potential as a social network optimized for the best user experience, yet it is failing to create a sustainable business model.

This could be detrimental in the overarching goal to create a perfect user experience, because the company will struggle in the future to make developments in its website since it will generate far less revenue than it needs to.

Also, more akin to sites like Tumblr or Twitter, there is no way to find people through mutual friends but rather unattached usernames to search for. So while Ello may have a unique minimalistic design and ensure user privacy, it creates an attention-grabbing alternative but fails in its ultimate goal to replace Facebook.

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