I’m looking at Ello. Janet Fouts (@jfouts gave me an invite. I’m @andreas_ramos at Ello.

Ello.co is simplified FB without advertising. They also don’t track users to sell the data.

Some have complained that Ello has no exit strategy. From reading Ello postings, that’s not true. Ello says they’ll offer paid features. It will be a life-style company. They don’t need to IPO or do a take-over target.

Others complain that Ello took VC funding, and “as we all know, VCs will want more money”. So how much did Ello get? $435,000 seed from FreshTracks Capital in Vermont. Okay, for East Coast people, this is a lot of money, but that wouldn’t even buy a condo in Palo Alto. Let’s say Ello charges $5/mo for a feature ($60/yr). Let’s say they pick up one million users, a tiny amount compared to FB (1.4B) or Twitter (~200m). Based on other startups, around 4% will pay for services, so 1m X 0.04 = 40K paying users. Multiply by $60/yr to get $2.4m in revenues. Multiply by three years to get $7.2m. FreshTracks will be quite happy (they’re in Vermont, so to them, that’s Big Money.) No, Ello doesn’t need more money or ads.

What’s interesting about Ello is its virality. A week ago, it was unknown. They’re now growing at 5-30,000 users per hour. Why? Is it the “anti-FB”? Or the no-ads, no-tracking? Or the use-any-name-you-want?

Who are these 30K/hr users? Teens? 20-somethings? CIA robot accounts?

It’s growing super fast. I made several graphs with Google Trends and #Hashtagify, but they just show a flat line that suddenly goes straight up. No slow-down whatsoever.

Inevitably, marketing agencies will spam Ello. I wonder how Ello and its members will block that.

Ello doesn’t have an Android app (yet).

No search box, so I can’t search for a #hashtag.

I’m glad to see a small team and a few VCs in Vermont VCs have done so well. It’s very good news for the many startups that aren’t in SV. And you don’t have do the SV process to be successful.

Update

Ello, the anti-FB, is actually the simplified FB. It’s FB, less clutter, no ads, no tracking. You have your circle of friends. You post to your friends. They reply.

Ello isn’t like Twitter, where you post to the whole world (and use #hashtags to identify topics).

So… where’s the advantage of Ello? What does Ello do that FB doesn’t?

I’m active on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, and WeChat. That’s a lot. I don’t have time for more: no Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, or SnapChat. And guess what? There are 700 social media sites. For me to start using Ello, I’ll have to give up one of the ones I use.

So the big thing about Ello isn’t this week’s 30,000 signups per hour. The big thing will be what happens in a few weeks whether those few million people start to actually use it. Google+ had ten million users, but it was a FB clone so it went nowhere.