Today in Tabs: Ello Darkness, My Old Friend

My bologna has a first name and it’s E-L-L-O.

Today in Tabs: Ello Darkness, My Old Friend
Image: Shutterstock

Ello, ello, ello, ello White America, you’ve got a new social network to groan at the prospect of joining or being left out of or ostentatiously refusing to join, depending on how you handle these things. But what is Ello?


It’s been around since at least April, when BetaBeat‘s Jack Smith Four took a steely-eyed, critical look at the “supergroup of artists, programmers, and designers” organized by “mad geniusPaul Budnitz. Mr. Four concluded at the time that although “ is just a landing page,” nevertheless “success is by no means guaranteed!” Hmm, tough, but fair. But after six weeks in invite-only beta, yesterday was Ello’s breakthrough day in tabs.

Beta invites were reportedly selling on eBay for $500. Mr. Four updated breathlessly throughout the day, first breaking the vital news that Ello welcomed porn, and later updating about the site’s server status as though he were reporting from behind German lines in the Ardennes. The sheer gathering force of the tabs drew halfhearted blog posts out of Gizmodo‘s Les Horn and Valleywag‘s Nitasha Tiku like a waterspout sucking resigned fish up to their airborne deaths. “There have been a few versions of this virtuous social network before—from Diaspora (forgotten), (oof), and even Path (oy),” summed up Tiku, wisely leaving the interjection “(lol)” for future articles where this list also includes Ello.

Of course if you’re a man, you can hardly launch your new social network without a manifesto. The foremost concern for Ello’s -ifestoing men seems to be not having ads. Nevertheless, and please try to contain your shock here, #brands were among the first to sign up, including Sonos and, most hilariously, Ello’s anti-advertising founder’s own bicycle brand, Budnitz bicycles. We know why the brands are there, but why were people so keen to get in? Taylor Hatmaker thinks it might be Facebook’s new emphasis on real names, and many of the early and vocal Ello migrants seem to have been LGBTQ users who felt excluded by the Zuckerborg. What’s strange about this is that so far, Ello provides no privacy controls or means of blocking anyone from following or interacting with you, which are fundamental tools for the internet’s most frequently victimized groups.

Most interesting have been the Takes from people who are not required by contract to produce Takes. Quinn Norton wrote about the place of social networks in our brains and the “devil’s bargain” of venture capital w/r/t Ello’s no-ads stance. It turned out, though, that Ello has so far been funded by a $435,000 seed round from FreshTracks Capital, as Andy Baio posted on Ello itself. He’s expecting a big Series A round soon, and with growth numbers like this you can be sure Mr. Budnitz is getting offers. Quinn Norton suggested a differential pricing model where users pay, and people in richer countries are charged more. But they’ve already got seed funders, so that’s just not going to happen.

One thing is certain, however, and that is Death. Whatever its prospects for short-term success are, Ruby J Murray takes the sure bet in the Guardian and predicts that Ello won’t last forever. In fact one fellow manifesto writer has already jumped ship over concern about Ello’s ideological purity. And while it is certain that Ello will let everyone down, I look forward to finding out whether it’s by selling out or failing to bootstrap. If you’d like, you can friend my imposter on Ello, right here.

Random Digressions:


I’ve got some tabs about #groundghazi here but the hell with it. Let’s just turn it over to Bijan.


Today’s tab: Web designer by day, pony by night. If I weren’t so sick I’d regale you all with an anecdote, but I’m tabbing from bed today so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Quote from the book closest to me (a 1962 copy of The New York Times Style Book for Writers and Editors) after opening to a random page:

electrical, electronic. The words should not be used interchangeably. An ordinary light bulb or a motor is electrical. A radio receiver, a TV set or a modern computer is electronic, which means that the flow of electrons through it is controlled by vacuum tubes, transistors or other solid-state devices.”

I’m out, y’all. Have a good two day break from capitalism’s crushing millstones!

Thanks for the encouragement, Millennial Giles Corey. I’m sure you’ll be calling for more weight if capitalism ever elects to settle the crushing millstone of a real job upon you.

Today’s Actually Good Thing: Read this Casey Cep essay about the most pointless ferry in Maryland

Today’s Song: Radiohead’s Thom Yorke just dropped a whole album on Bittorrent. You can listen to the first track on the site, the album’s $6.00 to buy.

~Who in that? Oh shit, it’s just tabs on tabs on tabs~

Today in Tabs is a useful and intriguing daily digest of the most important stories online, is what someone who is totally lying to you would say in this space. Read it on FastCoLabs or get it in your email but rest assured I will never attempt to be useful or intriguing.