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What you need to know about social-network upstart Ello

Sharon Gaudin | Oct. 1, 2014
Analysts take on assertion that new social net is "Facebook killer."

Ello has some catching up to do to even be a Google+ killer.

"Ello is new, just starting out," said Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner. "It has no mobile app and its features have really yet to be defined or tested in the real world. Ello could have a bright future but we will need to wait to see how the developers of Ello progress the service before we can talk about their competition or ultimate success."

The new social network is still in beta. The company has not said when it is expected to officially launch.

"Right now, the biggest priority is to roll out new features, and make sure the community aspect of Ello is flourishing," the company spokeswoman said. "We're listening to the Ello users and realigning features based on user feedback. Along with making sure the site is running well, we're adding new users as we can. Things are still a little buggy, but makes it an exciting adventure for everyone."

The site was developed by a group of seven designers and programmers who wanted their own social network. Paul Budnitz, listed as one of Ello's founders, also is the founder of Budnitz Bicycles and Kidrobot, a company that focuses on toys and clothing.

Berger & Föhr, a Boulder, Colo.-based graphic design and art direction studio , also is listed as one of the forces behind Ello. As is Mode Set, a software consultancy based in Denver.

So if Ello doesn't sell ads or user information, how will the business make money?

According to the company, the site's main features will remain free to users. However, they will sell special features that users might want to add to their account.

"This will be the tricky part but they can charge companies to participate and offer a deeper intimacy between those firms and their customers, as well as more security," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "They can also charge for upgrades, much like "free to play" games do. Dating services, headhunting services and premium Web pages could come at a premium and support the service."

Ello has not said what kinds of services will be for sale.

At this point, Ello has a simple design with a lot of white space. Users can connect with each other, listing each other as "friends" or "noise." Users can follow the people they most care about more closely as "friends." Everyone else goes in the "noise" category, where their posts can be scanned but are not highlighted on the user's account.

Users don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings: People won't know if they've been categorized as friends or noise.


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