Ello Becomes A Public Benefit Corporation And Legally Vows To Forever Remain Ad-Free; Founders And Investors Sign Charter

Raises $5.5 Million Series A Round of Funding

Oct 23, 2014, 09:00 ET from Ello.co

BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ello.co, the ad-free social network, today announced it has converted to a State of Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), stating within the legal charter that:

  1. Ello must never make money from selling ads;
  2. Ello must never make money from selling user data;
  3. In the event that Ello is ever sold, the new owners would also have to comply by these terms.

The Ello PBC Charter makes it legally impossible under US law for investors to require Ello to ever show ads, sell user data, or sell the company to any buyer who would violate any of the listed conditions.

"The Internet is turning into one giant billboard, and with essentially all social networks relying on advertising, data mining, and selling user data, it can be hard for some people to imagine a better way. At Ello, we're building it," said Paul Budnitz, CEO and co-founder of Ello. "We're fortunate to have a passionate global community that supports Ello's mission, and like-minded, socially conscious investors who understand that a company can provide a fantastic service, and be profitable, without advertising."

Ello will forever be ad-free and allow people to use a real or anonymous identity, while at the same time protecting community members by requiring them to follow common-sense rules of conduct.

Ello also completed a Series A round of funding in the amount of $5.5 million. The round was led by Foundry Group, Techstars' Bullet Time Ventures, and FreshTracks Capital.

"Ello is using the power of their business to solve an issue that has been on the forefront of social networking for the better part of the last decade," said Seth Levine, managing director at Foundry Group. "We're committed to their manifesto and are in this for the long haul."

Ello was launched on August 7, 2014 with 90 users, and is now experiencing invite requests at a rate of 45,000 per hour during peak times. The company will generate revenue by selling personalized features and other services at small prices through an online store inspired by the Apple App store. Ello currently has thousands of community members asking for specific paid features.

"Signing the Ello charter was a no brainer for us as investors," said Mark Solon, Managing Partner at Techstars. "We believe in the mission and the PBC further enforces the manifesto, and Ello's vision to never market their users to third parties." 

"The world has embraced Ello, supporting the social network's simplicity and advertising-free experience," said Lee Bouyea, managing director at FreshTracks Capital, an early investor in Ello. "We're not backing a company that's going to screw up the Internet and invade people's privacy. As an investor it's refreshing to see a new, non-intrusive, profitable approach where people can choose to participate, or not." 

The Ello PBC Charter is effective immediately.

To view the Ello Charter Letter signed by its investors, click here: https://ello.co/downloads/ello-pbc.pdf

To learn about Public Benefit Corporations (PBC), click here: http://benefitcorp.net/

To view Foundry Group's blog post, click here: http://foundrygroup.com/blog/2014/10/our-investment-in-ello/  

To view Seth Levine's blog post, click here: http://www.sethlevine.com/wp/2014/10/ello-world 

To view Mark Solon's blog post, click here: http://towriteistothink.com/2014/10/23/why-were-excited-to-be-investors-in-ello

About Ello:
Created by seven artists and designers, Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network where people can be who they want to be and connect with people they love, without being bombarded by boosted posts, data mining and ad salesman. Ello is and will always remain ad-free. Ello uses an app-store model for revenue, in which users may opt to pay for special features, enhancements, products and apps.

About Foundry Group:
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on making investments in early-stage information technology, Internet and software startups. Centrally located in Boulder, CO, Foundry Group is committed to leveraging our experience in starting and growing companies, our expertise in the technology industry, and our network of relationships to help great entrepreneurs turn great ideas into great companies.

About Techstars' Bullet Time Ventures:
Techstars is the gold standard for startup accelerators, with a massive interconnected network that supports 13 programs worldwide. Techstars' Bullet Time Ventures focuses on early-stage IT investments, representing over $23B in market capitalization.

About FreshTracks Capital:
Based in Shelburne VT, FreshTracks Capital L.P favors technology-driven businesses because of their potential for creating defensible competitive advantages, and seek out proven, high-performing management teams to lead these companies, with a core focus on Vermont. FreshTracks pursues investing opportunities in high-growth, private companies in the underserved capital markets of Vermont and the adjacent counties of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

PR Contacts:
Lizzy Harris & Rachel Fukaya
Barokas Public Relations for Ello
(206) 264-8220

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SOURCE Ello.co