Ello's mobile app will hit the Apple App store Thursday, about eight months after the ad-free social network launched as an invite-only alternative to Facebook.
The delayed move to mobile was a conscious decision, Chief Executive Paul Budnitz said. Ello's Android and Windows apps will launch later this summer.
"Starting up a social network is kind of like, for us, having a party without anyone in the room," he said. "We really wanted to make sure the first people who were in Ello really set the tone in the right way."
Ello started as a private social network connecting about 90 people who were tired of the clutter, data collection and algorithms on other sites, Budnitz said. He said most of the network's users are artists.
Ello is a public benefit corporation and does not sell users' personal data to third parties, according to the company.
Budnitz said the company would not release the specific number of users until Ello was out of beta mode, but said it is in the millions.
About half are located in the U.S., with the other half coming from countries such as Britain, Germany, India, Brazil, France and most recently, Japan, he said.
The network ended its invitation-only policy in May. The mobile app will include functions such as push notifications and search.
Later this year, Ello plans to roll out a social e-commerce function in which users can sell items directly to their followers. Sellers can take a photo of the items they want to sell, draw a box around the image and add a price, Budnitz said.
Like other e-commerce sites such as EBay and Etsy, Ello will take a small fee for setting up the transaction.
Because the audience on Ello skews older than on other social networks, the business model should align with users' interests, Budnitz said.
"Those are the people who have their own credit cards and earn their own money," he said. "Your exact fans will be the people who see things in your Ello store."
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