There have been some concerns about Ello and its ability to stay ad-free. Ello has made an announcement that may calm those fears. It is now a Public Benefit Company (PBC).
Many were skeptical of Ello’s promise to remain ad-free because that goal was seen as a nearly impossible one to achieve. Once a social media website starts including ads, it becomes beholden to the advertisers. The changes that are made would then benefit the companies who bought ads and not the users. This is how many social media websites work and where they get the funding to keep going.
Ello released information that should help ease people’s minds about things. It has now become a PBC. What does that mean for users of Ello? The company describes it this way:
A PBC is a special for-profit company in the USA that operates to produce a benefit for society as a whole. As a PBC, Ello is legally obligated to take its impact on society into account in every decision it makes.
Ello’s PBC charter states that Ello shall not do the following things for pecuniary gain. It shall not sell user-specific data to a third party. It shall not enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party. The third one is key. 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.
It is possible that this change might be in response to what Aral Balkan wrote in a post called Ello, goodbye. In it, he said that Ello had taken venture capital from a Vermont venture capital firm. In short, that meant that Ello would have to adhere to an “exit plan” and essentially end up “selling” its users information later on.
But now, Ello is a PBC. If it, someday, becomes acquired by another company, that other company will have to follow the requirements that Ello set up in its charter. Does this make you more interested in joining Ello (if you haven’t already done so)? What do you think Ello will do to make money since it is not going to have ads?