The most popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are free because they are funded by advertisers. The more time you spend on such a network, the more targeted the ads become.
People just give out tons of information about themselves as they share information between each other. Add some powerful algorithms on top of that and get the gold mine for advertisers.
However, billionaire businessman Ayman Hariri is planning to change all that. He has founded Vero, a social network without any ads. It will be funded by its users, and the annual subscription will be as cheap as a couple cups of coffee.
Hariri, who is the son of the assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, says that he launched Vero because he was totally frustrated with the existing social networks.
No data extraction
Vero, which means “true” in Italian, has the main purpose of design and experience and it will not extract users’ data to give it to advertisers later on.
“Every decision that we take, every detail we put into the app is all centred around a great user experience, and to have a social experience online that is more matching and more familiar and intuitive to their offline social interaction.
And we felt that excluding ads out of our business model allows us to focus on that, it allows us to look at our users as our customers, rather than advertisers,” Hariri says.
The ultimate price for the app will be a few dollars a year, but now it is free for the first million of users. However, companies will still be able to create theirs own profiles and promote their brands via influencers like in other social networks.
Another source of income that Vero will generate is the catalogue of products sold through the app. The commission will be taken in the “single digits”.
Such tactics has already proved to be consistent with fashion brand Temperley London, where Vero users could buy clothes with a single click as they were shown on the catwalk during London Fashion Week in September 2016.
Also for the first time a historic car has been sold directly via social media, Vero. It was a vintage Aston Martin DB5 which was owned by UK auctioneer Coys. In October 2016 the car was sold for $1 million. If Vero took 1%, it would be $10,000 of income.
A social network for grown-up people and superhero fans
Vero is not targeting at a mass audience, it’s trying to reach a specific group of older, more upscale people.
The director of the upcoming superhero film Justice League, Zack Snyder, really likes Vero. He made friends with Hariri when the last one won a charity auction for an episodic role in Snyder’s movie Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Snyder likes the network for its privacy settings and special categories of contacts, such as close friends, acquaintances and followers.
“You can post pictures of your family and say where you are and what experiences you are doing without having to worry about being exposed too publicly.
But then when you do need to give your fans or followers something as part of your job, you can do that and it’s all in the same app,” Hariri says.
Vero is also attracting other public names such as the singer Charli XCX and the filmmaker Max Joseph who is broadcasting the first episode now of his new documentary Charismatic Thinker.