Adoption of a new mobile social platform seemed to bloom over the weekend. Vero, the slogan of which is “less social media, more social life,” saw its version 1.0 hit the Apple App Store on April 30 of last year, but experienced a surge in sign-ups over the weekend that caused its UK-based servers to slow to a crawl.
Perhaps it is Facebook fatigue or annoyance with Snapchat, but Vero sign-ups were so high over the weekend, the social media platform was made to issue a few different notices about downtime:
“We’re experiencing an outage due to heavy load,” reads a tweet from Sunday. “Apologies again for the issues we’re having. We’re working to restore things. We really appreciate your patience.” And this, from Saturday: “Due to very large traffic, we’re experiencing intermittent technical issues. We’re working to resolve them as soon as possible.”
Updated with comment from Vero:
When asked about the rapid growth, a Vero spokesperson told Inverse on Monday that “it’s no surprise that our users have galvanized to introduce the app to their communities and send Vero to the top of the charts.”
“Over the past few days we’ve jumped from #19 to #3 on the U.S. iTunes Social Networking charts, and have cracked the top 10 list of Free Apps—and our users continue to increase daily,” a rep for Vero says.
Why the rush to Vero?
The company announced it would give “Vero free for life!” to its first million users on Wednesday, which apparently caused a surge in sign-ups. Presumably, that threshold is being approached. When I signed up for an account on Sunday, I was not asked to pay a fee and nowhere on the app was it suggested. The company’s website on Sunday still offered the free service for life:
What’s different about Vero?
Vero endorses claims like this that it doesn’t use algorithms to target users. Notably, it also doesn’t use traditional advertising, relying instead on a to-be-launched subscription model. Vero also charges merchants when they sell products with a “buy now” feature.
With many people justifiably obsessed with their personal privacy online, Vero says it only collects a user’s phone number, name, and email for registration reasons, and then app usage stats. It shares user data with user consent only (“If you tell us you are happy for us to do so.”)
It also allows users rank their connections by relationship (Close Friend, Friend, Acquaintance) — a feature also offered by Facebook, it should be noted. “When you can control who sees what, you can behave in a way that is more natural,” claims a manifesto on the Vero website. “We created a social network that lets you be yourself. Hence the name Vero. Meaning truth,” it continues.
Vero also markets itself as a palate cleanser to Facebook, which has seen its reputation dented and dinged after scandals over Russian political disruptors and persistent theories that Facebook is secretly listening to users for advertising purposes. Vero retweets comments like these on its official account: “Join me on Vero. It’s a v carefully conceived & curated new social media site. Fuck Facebook!”
It remains to be seen how users on Vero will shape its reputation in these early days. If Facebook is “meaningful” and Twitter is for “moments,” then what is Vero for? Also to be seen: How Vero’s adoption rates will change once the company starts charging subscription fees.
How to find friends on Vero
Like Snapchat before it, new users need to connect with friends on Vero the old-fashioned way: By sharing screenshots of their Vero account on other social networks. There’s no connecting to Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat with Vero, but you can scan your list of phone or email contacts stored on your phone.
The platform has its own verified accounts it nudges new users to follow, too: Suggested followers for me were Clay Enos, a photographer; Zack Snyder, the movie director; Max Joseph, the TV personality; and the official Vero account. All were verified users, according to a check mark next to their name. Stories on all three appear on the press page on Vero’s website. In October, Synder used his Vero account to tease pictures from Justice League, the superhero movie that came out a few weeks later.
Posting on Vero
Users can share photos, links, upload songs form iTunes, share movies from themoviedb.org, links to books from iBooks, or locations powered by Foursquare. The app has a messaging service and a familiar bell for its notifications center.
Who owns Vero?
Vero’s CEO and co-founder is Ayman Hariri, a Lebanese billionaire (son of the late former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri). Another cofounder is Motaz Nabulsi, a movie financier. Scott Birnbaum is the third co-founder; he founded Red Sea Ventures, the venture capital firm focuses on early stage technology.