Ello Is Supposed To Be The ‘Anti-Facebook’ But Is Its Business Model Sustainable?

Many people have finally become truly fed-up with the likes of Facebook. All the ads, all the tracking, all the rules. Last month, the world's most popular social network found itself in hot water after it forced some drag performers to use their real names, and while it's not hard to understand Facebook's reasoning, it's a no-brainer that some people simply can't use their real names, either in the name of safety, or because they're better-known under an alias.

It's for reasons like this, and especially privacy, that the popularity surrounding up-and-comer social network Ello has exploded. As of a couple of weeks ago, the invite-only network was in very early testing, with a modest number of total users. As of ten days ago, the service began receiving 35,000 invite requests every hour. That's astonishing.

The reason Ello has struck the right chord with so many is because it aims to be a completely ad-free network that doesn't track its users (and in turn won't have user data to sell). An operation like this is obviously going to be very difficult to keep running, but in time, the company plans to sell its users features that would help the site remain sustainable. One example would be to sell someone the ability to change their profile background. The possibilities are truly endless, however.

If Ello is to have no advertising, it means that companies - if those are even allowed (it's not entirely clear) - wouldn't be able to purchase sponsored posts. That does raise a question: If companies are allowed to have pages on Ello, will their posts be throttled as they are on Facebook, only appearing to a certain percentage of fans? Time will tell, I suppose.

What's very obvious is that Ello has a definite uphill battle ahead of it. Will people want to spend money on "features" in exchange for an ad-free network? Well, we established last month that most people wouldn't pay for an ad-free Internet, so I think that pretty much answers the question of whether people would go that route for a single website.

Despite that being the case, though, a social profile is something a lot of people take pride in, so I do think it stands to reason that a good number of people would shell out a modest amount of money for certain perks. At Facebook, people have the options to purchase emoticons for chat, as well as other virtual items.

Ello's ambitions are high, and I can't help but hope that the network truly does take off. With Google+ largely losing its battle against Facebook, there are no great options out there. Any alternative network you go to is going to lack half of your friends. Ello, with its grandiose promises, actually has the potential to pull users away from Facebook. 35,000 people an hour prove that.