Ello Revamps, Raises $5 Million

Ello, the newish social network that eschews advertising and has been called the “anti-Facebook,” has unveiled a revamped version with a slick new interface and also announced that it has raised $5 million in a new round of financing.

That's a big vote of confidence from investors in a social network whose business model is still largely untested.

Currently Web-only, Ello will introduce mobile apps for Android and iOS over the next few months, and the new beta version of Ello is definitely more mobile-friendly. Among other features, it includes full-screen image posting, browsin, and navigation, according to CEO and founder Paul Budnitz, who said the interface now “acts and feels more like an app than Web site.”

It also offers expanded search capabilities, easier discovery of content, and “drag and drop” editing.



More new features are coming soon, including private messaging, private groups and “loves.” And it is taking steps toward opening up its platform by integrating CodePen, which should allow developers to create their own apps and embed them in Ello posts.

According to its creators, Ello now has “millions” of users, although they did not specify how many. At least in anecdotal terms, Budnitz painted a picture of a thriving user base: “We've seen super-active micro communities pop up on Ello around subjects like finance, art, photography, and graffiti. We've created a platform that's welcoming to all levels of participation -- from top professionals to hobbyists to people with more casual interests.”

Ello also announced that it has raised $5 million in a new round of funding led by the Foundry Group, Techstars Ventures and FreshTracks Capital. That comes on top of the $5.5 million raised in a previous round in October -- clearly someone thinks its business model has potential.

The exact shape of that business model remains to be seen, as Ello is a for-profit, public-benefit corporation and has vowed it will never sell third-party ads or user data.

Ello previously said it plans to open a store to sell apps that would enable users to personalize the service in various ways.

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