The Ello Servers are on Fire
For 8 months I've been working on shipping a product. That product is not Ello. On Monday, September 22nd, we successfully launched that product. As far as I could tell, my week would be consumed with performance tuning and code grooming. The following day, I was blindsided as Ello started receiving major press. I quickly switched projects to help scale the Ello platform. I'm flexible, so I didn't stress the transition.
Most of the early press was positive, in the vein of, "we like the manifesto and the app looks pretty." But soon thereafter, news outlets latched onto some seemingly bad news, as they tend to do, and doused it with rhetoric. Ello took a little under a half a million dollars in VC money. People hate venture capitalists. I hate venture capitalists. As a guy who's bootstrapping a startup on the side, I can appreciate why the press and early Elloites feel discontent in light of such news.
Let me give you a brief look at how we function internally. Keep in mind, I've only been working on Ello, with the Ello team, for less than a week. We all hang out in Campfire together, but I have never met @budnitz. I have never met @todd or @lucian of @bergerfohr. Honestly, I don't really care. There are too many cooks in the kitchen right now. But when we receive feedback, we take it to heart. We're all OCD and want to make the best possible products. When the LGBT community refused to use the platform because it lacked the right blocking features, we immediately prioritized muting and blocking. This will ship any minute now.
We're not building Ello to appease venture capitalists. More news on this soon. If a venture capitalist ever told me to do something I wasn't comfortable with, I'd tell them to fuck off. And I'm certainly not comfortable building a social network with advertisements. It disgusts me. I've always found advertisements to be the epitome of a poor business plan.
For some people, taking on funding means Ello has already sold its users out. I disagree. Ello had to make a choice. Knowing how fickle people can be towards social networks, do we bootstrap with all the features to make us money from the get-go or do we test the waters and see if there's interest? Go all in with paid features and risk gaining nominal traction. Dead. Or, take on funding to see if this beast has legs. Turns out, it has legs. They're massive and now our servers are on fire. Thank god we have funding to host them and optimize our architecture. But we had to answer questions like: will people even enjoy the platform, the aesthetic, the manifesto? There's only one way to know. We needed money to prove an idea, now we implement the business model.