Creating an alternative social network

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Today’s guest is up against a daunting task. Mark Weinstein is the creator of MeWe, an alternative social network to Facebook. It’s alternative in many ways. They don’t run ads, they don’t censor, the use no algorithms.

I’m curious how he’s getting millions of users.

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Mark Weinstein

Mark Weinstein

MeWe

Mark Weinstein is the creator of MeWe, an alternative social network.

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Full Interview Transcript

Before we get started, this interview is sponsored by HostGator. If you need a website, hosted, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Let’s get into it.

Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses.

A lot of us really are on something that feels like a quixotic adventure. We are trying to do something that the world tells us. We cannot do. Today’s guest. I feel like. Is up against it more than the rest of us. Mark Weinstein is the creator of me. We, they are an alternative social network to Facebook and I mean an alternative and a lot of different ways.

For one thing, they don’t accept advertising for another. They don’t do censorship and it’s been well, a struggle with some upsides and some struggle and upsides. Basically. I discovered mark, first of all, good to have you here. I, my goal here is to ask some challenging questions, but I’m not here to. To challenge you, I’m here to find out how you built your business to where it is today and to learn from you.

But mark, I did join me. We when Donald Trump was kicked off of, uh, Facebook and Twitter, and a lot of articles were talking about how people are moving over to me, we, and I wanted to see what’s going on on me. We, I signed up. Sure enough. I didn’t realize I had so many friends who were, uh, like Trump supporters and angry about Trump being kicked off.

And I saw them on there. And then I hadn’t been on. And I’m seeing that a lot of them are not on, is this a thing that just how’s the business doing?

Mark: Well, Andrew, first of all, man, thank you for having me on, uh, it it’s, it’s great to be talking to you, your, your, your. Maestro of really cool, uh, interviews with founders. And so, you know, thank you for, you know, it’s, it’s a, this moment. Um, and you know, first of all, yeah, well, a couple things to S to set straight, um, me, we does moderate.

So, you know, and for everybody, we consider ourselves to be the new mainstream social network. So not an alternative, but the new mainstream. And the new mainstream looks like this. Everybody, it looks like no ads, no newsfeed manipulation. So you see everything in timeline order with whatever your friends, your contacts, your groups, your pages, whatever you’re connected to on me.

We, you see in timeline order in your newsfeed, plain and simple, your privacy of bill of rights guarantees that we’re not targeting you. We’re not creating a data packet on you. No one can pay to interrupt or interfere with your newsfeed. That you know, your face is your business. I mean all the right stuff.

So we have a poison pill in our privacy policy so that we can’t mess around with the privacy bill of rights that we give to you.

Andrew: What’s the point, what’s the poison pill. That means if you violate our privacy, what happens?

Mark: here’s what happens if we change. Our privacy policy at all. We have to tell all of our members, we have to tell you, and the same time we tell you, give you a link to delete your account and download your content and that’s it. So we can never just change it and pretend. We can never do what Facebook has done.

And what I like to say, Andrew, is that if Facebook had this, what we call our poison pill, if they had had this clause in their privacy policy, they would have been out of business six years ago because everybody would have deleted their account after the countless infractions and changes they made without getting people’s.

Andrew: Okay. I see where you’re coming from. I was ready to come in and say, I think most people are like me. They signed up and then they disappeared on you. But then I did go to a similar web to look for evidence to prove that everyone was like me, but it turns out everyone’s not like me. Last a month. Visits were almost 10 million.

Mark: Yeah, listen. Uh, you know, we have a very active, we have almost 20 million.

registered. We have a very active base. And for sure, you know, the moment that you’re describing where, um, people are getting censored for having conversations, um, about, you know, democracy. And so there’s a mad rush to me. We, and that’s in the heat of the moment.

So the way we’ve grown historically is true spikes. Just like. Google plus shuts down, boom, a big spike. Um, Facebook’s sensors, vegans, boom, a spike. I mean, for real, these things happen. Uh, 2016, we announced Bernie Sanders people they’re getting censored on Facebook. Cause we all know Facebook was for Hillary and boom, a spike, Bernie Sanders people.

That’s the first movement that comes to me. So, you know, when you look at the history of spikes and then the issue of the day that caused the moon. Sort of comes down. Um, and so the activity levels off. So me, we grows or what I call a spiral. So there are spikes precipitated or caused by, you know, either just, you know, the word, getting out, um, a big group moving over, or, you know, an external event, Facebook censoring, um, you know, Facebook, uh, doing something wrong.

Um, you know, which is in one of our advisors, the inventor of the worldwide web, his name is sir Tim Berners Lee. It’s not Al gore is sir Tim. And as Tim has said in interviews and tweeted every time, you know, Facebook does something wrong. Another million people come to me.

Andrew: I get it. I, I don’t know if it’s level, if it levels off, it feels like you get a big bump and then some people do stick around and some, some leave it doesn’t end up at a new high, right.

Mark: No, it does end up at a new high, and that’s why I call it the spiral. It’s a new high from where it was. So you weren’t on the platform, let’s say before, um, you know, the election cycle, last year’s election cycle. So, um, you know, at that point we had. Going into the election cycle. I think we had seven or 8 million registered members, you know, today we have, uh, nearly 20 million registered members and the election cycle brought in several million members.

So for sure, you know, there’s that spike. And then we, and w when it flattens out, or when I say levels of, you know, whatever, after, when it comes back, when, when the curve comes back, it’s higher than when, where we were.

Andrew: all right, I see that. Are you making money with this?

Mark: this?

is a really cool question. Thank you, Andrew. So, uh, for our investors, you know, we’ve never had a down round, so we’ve raised 23 million from high net worth investors. We’ve done great there as the value of the company climbs, but here’s, what’s really. MI we turned this?

whole industry upside down because our business model is completely different.

And it’s so bizarre because our business model is common sense. It’s pure capitalism, our members, our customers to serve and delight And we make money, but by our members buying add-ons and things like that versus Facebook where Facebook’s members are, you know, basically. The products that they sell, the products that they target, the products

Andrew: customers are

Mark: sell down the

Andrew: I, how much revenue we talking about?

Mark: Uh, let’s see, go, go back two years, 2019, we did a, about?

140,000 in revenue, 2020. We did about 1.1, 1.2 million 2021. We’re going to do somewhere between looks like six and eight. I mean, we are trending in a terrific look at that growth, any business that has that kind of revenue growth you look at and go, wow, that is a great trajectory next year.

You know, maybe we’ll get close to 20 million in revenue. I mean, this is cool stuff. Also. Um, several months this year we’ve been at breaking. So this is unprecedented. First of all, no social network has ever grown to 20 million registered without influencers or venture capital. And no social network has ever had revenue without being funded by venture cap.

Andrew: Um, Yeah, I all right. I get it.

Mark: We’ve researched this, Andrew, we researched it.

Andrew: all

Mark: I mean, meaningful revenue, you have sure. Like we had a couple of years ago we had 137,000 revenue. Sure. People can achieve that, but to generate the revenue, you need the big bucks back in you to have the growth, to create the revenue. And remember, our revenue is pretty straight through.

Think of us as like a freemium model. So me, we is free. It’s free forever. 96% of our users use free MIRI and everything. You need to have a great social media experience is free disappearing content, you know, great groups, great pages, you know, all all the stuff that you love. A really cool custom camera, our custom dual camera.

Nobody else has, but us stories. I mean, you know, we’ve got.

Andrew: Okay.

And then the paid part comes in from where? Yeah. What, what do people get if they have.

Mark: Yeah. So then it’s classic freemium. So it’s, in-app people can sign up for what we call me. We premium and that bundles, you know, we have a store, we have the meat, we store a bunch of Ella cart. Things are custom emoji store, custom themes, uh, you know, stickers, um, live voice in live video.

Uh, a page, you pay a buck 99 a month for a page, and then you can reach everybody and different than if you have a page on Facebook. Let’s say you have a page on Facebook and you’re reasonably popular. You’ve got a million followers on average, you reach between 20 to 50,000 of them. This is well documented.

Two to 5%. Max is your reach on me. We take that same. Million followers, you reach a million, a hundred percent reach in timeline order in the newsfeeds every time your posts, because we have no

algorithmic interference. Well, yeah. So listen, what if you have 50,000 followers on Mimi, then you reach All 50.

So look at the ratio. You need to get a million followers on Facebook to reach 50 at me, we bring 50,000 followers with you. Reach 50.

Andrew: From what I’ve seen, what I’ve seen of me. We, it is very similar to Facebook. The design, the layout, everything would be familiar to a Facebook user except no advertising. It’s it’s uh, the feed is in chronological order. And, um, and I do feel that the company cares about my privacy instead of selling my, my information.

So let’s talk about how you got here. This is, is this you, can you see my screen here is this is what you were doing before

Mark: Um, I’m not seeing your screen. So anyway, but, um,

Andrew: you were an author. This was, I’m looking at a book called habitually. Great. On

Mark: Oh, you got a picture of habitually.

Andrew: Yeah. With you with a young mark Weinstein on the cover, what were you doing?

Mark: Listen, let’s go to before that book. So first of all, thank you. Uh, my books are, you know, self-published, they won two indie book awards, um, and they’re really all about, you know, human greatness about how do we get to the greatness in our own lives, whatever that greatness is for you or for me, maybe it’s just.

Taking the whole day off every day or sitting on the beach or playing your guitar or, or maybe it’s, you know, becoming a superstar in some field that’s important to you, whatever it is, or being a great parent. Um, but we’ve got stuff in the way. So I have this, this book series I wrote for my client. Um, in between my social networks, I was a high tech consultant and I wrote a book series called habitually great endorsed by the wonderful Sage, uh, Stephen Covey who wrote the seven habits of highly effective people.

Um, and so anyway, now step back before that in the late nineties, I am one of the early founders of social media. One, uh, cause there’s a whole group of us in the late nineties who were, you know, envisioning and Imagineering the future of the web. And I built a company. Uh, we had super family.com and superfriends.com.

They were PC magazine, top 100 sites, three years in a row. And so I was right at the, the birth. Of social media and what a great use of the web. So I’m right there. I built one of the early successful social

Andrew: I couldn’t. I went to the internet archive to try to get a sense of what it looked like. And I don’t see, I don’t see what supergroups was. What was it?

Mark: Listen, you can just right now go to supergroups.com. There is a legacy, uh, you know, site right there that you can pull it up and you’ll see. So this was social networking, these where

Andrew: supergroups.com takes me to, it takes me to supergroups 2001. Welcome to

Mark: That’s right. There you go.

Andrew: God of the power of relationships, the magic of technology. And how did it work?

Mark: Look at, look at it. So, so we had this great branding, listen, actually not very different from social networks today. It was just that we had to build this to function on diet. And, you know, yeah. You had photo albums, you had, you know, your newsfeed, you had your sort of public area. We call the family newspaper for your, for your family groups and your friends groups.

So super friends was a real precursor to my space and face. It was where, you know, you could connect with your friends and then when you were building it out so that you could connect with like-minded people around the world, the whole premise, listen, we had tons of features, you know, um, you could even send your pictures out to, to be, get developed this when people still use film right through the website.

Um, this was great. I mean, like I said, we made a PC magazine top 100, three years in a row.

Andrew: What happened to

Mark: this was the beginning. So we sold it in 2001 in the middle of the, the B to C. Everybody has read about web 1.0 and the crash of web 1.0. So we were right in the middle of that. Um, and of course, as it turns out, we were right.

You know, um, and hearing today, so.

Andrew: Let’s talk about what didn’t work. I mean, I want to get like a more personal understanding of who you are. If we talk about just how MiWay is great about how super fast friends was great. I think that the audience is going to feel like we’re doing nothing but promoting and not really talking. What the struggle was to get to where you are.

And so do you remember like the, when you ha when you sold it, how tough things were for you? I know for me, it was tough at that period.

Mark: Oh, my

Andrew: What happened? What happened your business?

Mark: listen. That was a very tough time. Everybody who was there. Remember. Um, you know, I immediately got into high-tech consulting and coaching to, to pay my rent. Um, and then, you know, I was lucky enough to write these books, but listen to anybody who lived through the debacle of 2001, um, in 2002, you know, it was a nightmare, it was a disaster.

Andrew: I remember what I’ll tell you what it was for us. One of the things that happened was we had these big sponsors paying millions of dollars a month that suddenly because they were publicly traded companies and the markets were telling them to stop spending on. Told us, that’s it. Despite the agreements, despite everything else they couldn’t afford to keep going.

And then that meant that if we can’t, you can’t even Sue them for money because they don’t have the money. And so we don’t have the money. And then we had to figure out what are we going to do about rent, about the staff, about everything else. And I remember walking into work, feeling like I lost everything and I just was too exhausted to find my way.

What was it like for you? What happened in your

Mark: God, man. Listen, you know, and, uh, you, you, you hit the nail on the head. So for everybody, I mean, You know, when I look at the lessons that I learned, first of all, we built the largest commercial server commercial server infrastructure in the state of New Mexico for everybody listening. This was the era where you signed huge leases with sun Microsystems and Oracle.

I mean, we had a massive, beautiful so-so hosting infrastructure that we leased in paid for. And, you know, the monthly nut on that alone was massive today. You know, you pay, you know, I mean, unless you get big like us, you know, we’re now paying for 20 million people. What we were paying back then for, you know, a half million, um,

Andrew: Yeah. And so you’re committed to them. And then Oracle would also require you to basically have one of their, one of their technicians on staff and they had a huge salary, right? It was like they were getting you all over the

Mark: right. Plus, plus, this is the key difference, Andrew, you probably remember this. You were supposed to spend all the money. You were just supposed to blow through it all and believe there was always going to be more coming from investors. And I mean, so you just blew through millions, tens of millions of dollars on marketing, um, because you were supposed to your board, the investors, everybody expected you to your, supposed to sit on it and be careful you were supposed to spend it and, you know, talk about a great lesson.

I mean, my God, you know, it’s, we’re so careful with every dollar it anyway, because you know, both of those lessons are like, you know, Nope, there was no free ride. It looked like it was a free ride. It looked like there was the new economy that was a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Andrew: How much money do you write?

Mark: oh, in the tens of millions back then,

Andrew: Wow, we okay. And so then when it closed, how did you keep yourself from feeling depressed from feeling like the last few years of your life or a wasted?

Mark: Um, I just moved on, you know, it was, it was really simple. I’m also a student. Uh, personal improvement and they always have been, and I’ve always encouraged my team members and employees to take the programs, to study the things that are of interest to them to improve themselves. They don’t, it doesn’t have to directly connect to the business because you know, our life is really an Ascension and we’re always striving to be better, be better people to learn more, um, you know, to take more adventure.

And so, um, one of my friends, right after, right after, um, you know, I got out of social media, one of my friends said, Hey, can you write a program on personal improvement that we could sell, uh, to companies and, you know, and then you would be the consultant. And I said, sure. And I wrote this program called peak life had. Because I had been studying personal improvement for years. I took it. I said, when I was 16 years old, I took my mother on a train to New York city to, to take a course called the power of acknowledgement. I mean, you know, I was always into this stuff and, um, by the time my friend and her organization got back to Me and they said, oh, you know what, uh, it’s not bottom line focused enough.

We’re not into it. I said, well, that’s great because my friends have already hired me. So You know, I was lucky. Um, I was able to pivot into one of my passions, which is personal improvement, um, and you know, for organizations and individuals, and I started, you know, the peak life habits business, I wrote the habitually great book series.

Um, and I

Andrew: Didn’t you feel like didn’t you feel like a fraud then? I mean, you had millions of dollars raised the business didn’t succeed, and then you were starting to tell people how to do it. I mean, didn’t you feel like, how can I tell them when I wasn’t able to do it myself?

Mark: Dude. That’s not what we’re talking about. That’s not

Andrew: How do you, how

Mark: that is

listening. Success is starting and failing. Remember, everybody do not think of yourselves as failures. If you fail in a business, that’s a massive success. How many people have the courage? To go out on their own and start a company and do the best they can with the knowledge they have in the time window that they’re in, in the, in the moment in history that they’re at and whether you succeed or fail, you know, financially that is not the measurement.

So you’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror and you’ve got to say, you know, I gave it my best and that is a success while everybody else is sitting on their Duff or has a cushy job with a salary waiting for their pension.

Andrew: All right. I guess that’s not the way I see it when it’s my life. I see what I strive to do. And then when I don’t hit that, I feel like a failure for not hitting that. And you’re saying you still have the big vision, but when you don’t hit it, You just see how far you’ve come and you consider that a success and you honestly think that way.

Mark: Of course, you scratch your head and you look at yourself and go, what. What can I learn here? what can I do different? Um, you know, for sure. Listen, I’ve been bankrupt, man. You know, that, that one bankrupted me because I put my own money into it. Just like I did this time, you know, Andrew, when I’m in, I’m all in man, this, this company me, we, how did I start it?

I liquidated my retirement account. I sold my houses and I didn’t take a salary for four years. Okay. You know, when you believe in something, it doesn’t matter what people say. It doesn’t matter all the naysayers, if you believe it and you wake up every morning and despite the naysayers, because any, if you’re an entrepreneur, there are plenty of people who are going to tell you that you’re wrong.

Um, and that you better go do something else or whatever. They’ll give you a hundred reasons why you’re wrong. But if you know you’re right and you believe it, you got to stick to it. Now don’t

Andrew: That’s what I’m getting at though. How, how do you, how do you keep, how do you keep yourself? You could do it when you didn’t before.

Mark: No, listen, I don’t really understand the line of questioning here, man. So it’s not, I didn’t didn’t do it before I did it before. So I did it. I am one of the early successes in social media. The industry collapsed the business to consumer industry collapsed virtually everybody who was in It couldn’t raise a dime when you couldn’t raise a dime and nobody was worried about revenue, then they were worried about, remember it was a land grab back then, and maybe you weren’t in social media, but social media was a land grab.

It was a user land

grab.

Andrew: was.

Mark: Nobody can. About revving even today, even today, look at clubhouse, right? How did they get themselves to be valued at a billion dollars on one of their financings? They have no fricking revenue. They have almost no members. And now, you know, like, no one’s even talking about them, but you know, it’s that facade, that’s what got us in trouble back in the early days of the web.

And then, you know, I mean this, this clubhouse facade, I mean, what are these guys doing? Come on guys. You

Andrew: You know what you have uh, you have a very, you have a very healthy approach, a very healthy attitude. Who was it that you are, that you were listening to and learning from as a kid when you were into self-improvement?

Mark: You know, um, I love Wayne Dyer. Remember Wayne Dyer,

Andrew: Yeah.

Mark: Uh, Yeah.

Wayne was beautiful, man. And I actually, uh, he passed away several years ago, but I actually got to swim with Wayne. I was coincidentally at a conference in Hawaii and Maui. Uh, once I had no idea that he lived there, but it turned out that he lived right next door to the hotel I was at.

And, you know, by sheer circumstance, I ended up swimming with him in the ocean, like five days in a row. Um, and, and Wayne became, you know, a wonderful mentor, uh, You know, people like that, you know what? Some of my advisors look at my advisory board at me, you’ve got Jack Canfield, everybody remember Jack Jack is, you know, one of the greatest success coaches in the world, chicken soup for the soul. Um, you got your Marci Shimoff is also an investor and advisor. Marcy wrote all the Chicken soup for the soul.

for women books, uh, with Jack she’s one of the biggest selling female authors of all time. Uh, I’ve got Raj Sisodia on my advisory board. Raj is the founder of the worldwide movement called conscious capitalism.

He coached whole foods from start to finish you’re in Austin, right? Were whole foods started and Raj Sisodia. Coach, you know, John Mackey and the whole foods team from start to exit, um, you know, these are the kinds of people that I like to surround myself with. Um,

Andrew: All right. So what made you decide to get back into social media?

Mark: very simple. Um, I watch, you know, and maybe we should start with, you know, my dad was an enlisted Marine in world war two. And so I, I grew up with a great sense of responsibility. And understanding of our great country, a country of our constitution, of our democratic principles. And, um, thank you, dad. My father was a great man.

He revered him, uh, and, and in 2010, Uh, you know, I watched the industry, so I never got far away from the industry. I’m in high-tech consulting, I’m watching the industry, I’m writing my books. I’m doing a lot of keynote speaking about, you know, personal greatness, by the way, Andrew, it’s really important because you know, you’re, and I really appreciate your, your thread of questioning personal greatness includes plenty of failures because failures, the only way that we get anywhere, the only way that we learn.

So if you are failing, you are successful. So, um, now, you know, fast forward to it’s 2010, mark Zuckerberg does an interview. I think it was with the guardian video, um, you know, live interview that I saw the video of. And he says, privacy is a social norm of the past. jaw dropped. I’m like, are you kidding me, man?

You know, because you want to spy on everybody and monetize their data. You’ve decided for the world for all of humanity, that privacy is dead, no fricking way. Um, that, so infuriated me and I decided in that moment that I was going to come back, I was going to build a new company and we were going to change this.

We couldn’t let this. So, um, you know, fast forward to 2011, mid 2011, and I relocate to Silicon valley. I was living in Albuquerque New Mexico, where I had built, you know, what you, my first social network, which was a great place by the way, to build a social network back in the nineties, in the late nineties, because the national labs were there, Sandia and Los Alamos.

So you could. Get great engineers out of the national labs for one third, the price they were paying in California, you know, still, um, money would travel back then. So you could get investors to get on a plane and come to Albuquerque. Um, and the state government gave me $300,000 to stay in New Mexico because they had let bill gates go little known fact about bill gates.

He started Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he went to the state government for money and they turned him down and his dad’s had come back to Seattle and he. So, um, anyway, Zuckerberg made this outlandish statement and, you know, in my world of sense and sensibilities I’m like, we can’t, we can’t let this happen.

And so I relocated to Silicon valley in mid 2011. I incorporated, you know, I, I, like I said, I liquidated my retirement accounts, so my houses sort of hiring engineers, um, and started building, you know, we started what we called the scruples beta project, which we ran for a handful of years. Took a while, you know, in 2012, I think maybe we had three or four engineers, um, We started raising money, you know, started raising funds.

So to closing financings with high net worth investors, and by 2016, we were ready. And we announced me, we at south by Southwest, and we want to love the award started with the year finalist for innovative world technology. So also just a little footnote in history in 2012, the day before Facebook went public Fox interviewed me and they, because I was the only guy who would say, they’ve got this wrong.

And I got on news day before they went public. And I said, they’ve got privacy wrong. It’s going to come.

Andrew: I see, uh, the screw goals website right here. And it was from back 2013 as this is what I’m looking at in the internet archive, same message that you have today, which is, uh, share with your friends and family. Get privacy, no tracking, no cookies, no stalking, no spyware, no bullying. It was in that period.

You were, you were making a run for it, right. And revenue was coming from

Mark: No, there was no revenue. Then this is our beta

project.

Andrew: a beta for years. You went beta, no revenue,

Mark: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Listen, we had to get. Yeah, we had Tim advising us. Um, you know, Tim joined the advisory board in 2014 and we had w we parked the me, we brand until we were ready. We waited for south by

Andrew: but you knew from the beginning, it would be me. We from 2012, when

Mark: No, we, we actually went through a bunch of branding exercises to pay. What our true go-to-market name would be. And I got to tell you, it was really interesting at the end. Uh, we have a great advisor out in New York city, Brett vac, uh, former, uh, vice-chair of BVDO great ad agency. Now he runs his own agency, um, and Brett really helped us.

Uh, now this down, it came down to two brands MI. Or my world. And I was in favor of my world because my world is really this me and we, you know, and I really wanted to call the company, my world. I wanted the website to be my world. Um, but the rest of the team wanted me. We, and it may total sense for letters to words.

The whole world can understand it. No matter what language people speak, it was available. We could buy it on a, on a time. You know, I think we paid it off over five years or something like that to buy the domain.

Andrew: How much money was

Mark: So it?

was get this. It was less than a hundred K

Andrew: Whoa. That’s a great

Mark: it would, this, this was a great buy, you know, now we’ve trademarked the name.

I mean, but it was a great buy in my world was well over a million bucks to buy that. Also didn’t help my case,

Andrew: How did you get Tim Berners-Lee to join in?

Mark: you know? Um, I, you know, here here’s what happened. We saw. An interview. The 25th anniversary of the web is, uh, in, um, 2014, 2014. And Tim did an interview with seen it. So he invented the webinar in 1989 and 2014, his 25th anniversary. He does an interview with CNET and then in the interview, and you can see this, you know, he talks about the. And you only mentioned one company talking about the future of the web scruples. And we’re like, oh my God. So I reached out to Tim, he joined our advisory board. He knew about us. He actually had been sending us some feedback, but he didn’t tell us who he was.

Andrew: Ah, and what did he like about.

Mark: Well, Tim. Invented the web for communication, for people to communicate for us, to stay connected for us to share ideas for us, to ideate for us to, you know, to expand and enhance our lives. He didn’t invent the web. So we would all become manipulated, you know, purchased, uh, sold down the river. So Tim loved and still do.

Loves our position around privacy, uh, around authentic communication. Um, and so he was right there with us. He still is. So he will occasionally tweet about.

us, you know, I mean, Tim’s world renowned. Remember he was knighted he’s now, you know, when Tim first signed on as an advisor, he was Tim Berners Lee.

Now he’s sir, Tim. Berners-Lee

Andrew: How incredible is that

all right? What are you doing to grow? What’s I know that you’re not buying ads, but what is working for you?

Mark: So, you know how we’ve grown historically. And I can, I kind of mentioned this early at the beginning of the interview is constituencies move. And so, you know, for example, when you came to me, we, that was in the middle of a conservative, constituent growth at me weak. Now it’s important for our listeners, that me, we, as for.

Good people. We don’t care what your politics are. We don’t care what your health opinions are. You know, we don’t care your religious preferences, your sexual preferences, your finances, health, whatever, you know, all we care is that me, we, as for civil discourse, remember the principle of democracy is disagreeing. So disagree as much as you?

want, just don’t incite violence. Don’t post hate don’t docs, don’t bully don’t don’t, you know, get into porn and me, we has, you know, a fair, you know, moderation. Our members help us on every post on every profile and every group on every page you can block and report somebody in our trust and safety team will investigate.

Andrew: What about lies about the vaccine or lies about, um, the pandemic.

Mark: You know, listen, here’s the problem with Facebook’s business model. You just hit the nail on the head. It’s called amplification. Now Facebook amplifies, outrageous content. This is well done. Well-documented because people can pay to boost and Facebook boosts, anyhow, anything that’s outrageous because they have data that shows that, you know, if you amplify outrageous content, you keep people engaged.

And even if they’re not engaged for a long time, but you really keep them engaged me, we has zero amplification. You can’t pay to boost on me. We So no advertiser.

Andrew: as long as if something, if fake information gets out there, it’s going to be there. You’re not going to take it out, but you’re not going to.

Mark: Yeah, you can’t right. But if you’re inciting violence plus, so listen, you know, you choose, if you choose to follow a thread about vaccines, that has one opinion versus another opinion, that’s your choice. That thread can’t be boosted, just like, you know, the Chinese government, the Russian government, or any advertiser marketing.

Or any politician or anybody can’t pay to boost anything on me? We, because our business model has no ads has no targeting has none of that stuff. So our, our members, our customers to serve and delight, not data to target and sell. So it’s, you, you immediately diffuse the whole issue of if you have no amplification, then the conversation doesn’t go anywhere.

And isn’t a microsurgery about letting people have civil discourse. Isn’t that what democracy is about? You know, so for me, that’s a no brainer.

Andrew: What about this? I read your op-ed piece in the wall street journal, where you talked about how you used to think of. I was not a monopoly, but now you become convinced it is a monopoly and you made such a good case for how tough it is to beat them or to even compete with them. How do you survive in a world where Facebook can copy competitors, can inch them out and just take over and whatever the new version of social media.

Mark: Listen, Facebook is not a clean player and we all know this. And so well, you know, sure me, we has gotten to, you know, five to seven, six to $8 million in revenue and to nearly 20 million registered users. Shouldn’t we already be a 200, 300 million users with tens of millions of dollars in revenue. But what if Facebook mutes every conversation on their platform about me?

We, and part of the way we grow is for people on other platforms inviting and connecting with their friends, saying, Hey, come join me on me. We, all of our members have a link. They can post them on other platforms like Facebook. So Facebook has absolutely inhibited. There’s no question about it. And we have good documentation on this.

They stopped conversations. They put people in jail for talking about me. We Facebook jail. Um, we have documentation on that. So the answer is that, you know, face and as we’ve talked about, you know, my op-ed is very clear about all the reasons, you know, Facebook controls, the news media, Facebook controls your data and your thoughts and your purchase decisions.

Uh, Facebook reaches half the world’s population. Facebook is now in this sort of metaphor. You know, incentive Facebook has either acquired or run out of business, virtually every competitor, except for me, we and Snapchat. And this is documented in the federal trade commission’s complaint, filed in the courts in their

Andrew: Th there are other, there are others, but I think you’re right. There are others. Like I think gab.com is still around and there are a few others. Reddit is still a competitor, but you’re right. That in social media, just French space there just aren’t there isn’t room.

Mark: Nobody’s there, you know, and it’s also why haven’t we been able to raise venture capital? Don’t you think that, you know, it’s Facebook is such a dominant monopoly, You know, plus influencers, you know, Facebook is now paying influencers a billion dollars a year to stay on

their

platform.

Andrew: op-ed too. So then how do you compete? How do you get up in the morning saying this is going to be what I’m going to invest the rest of my life in, when you see how strong the competition is.

Mark: Well, first of all, we don’t need half the world’s population.

Andrew: wait. Don’t don’t move the mic. Let’s keep it where it is.

Yeah, go ahead. You don’t need half the world. So you’re saying if you can go for a smaller group of people who pay, that’s your win.

Mark: Now remember we don’t need them to pay. We only need 4% of our members to pay. 96% of our users can just use me for free. So, you know, listen, this is not hard, you know, how do you start? You throw a stone, there’s a Goliath. Well, what do you do? Do you say, well, Goliath is too big. So now we’re all just going to suffer.

No, you start throwing the rocks, you know, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re throwing the rocks and we’re saying, no, we can compete. We’re going to get. And right now Facebook has massively inhibited competition, including us. Um, we’ve, you know, but we’ve survived and we’re going to keep chipping away and yes, you know, um, they’re doing everything they can to, you know, totally.

Take over and control the world. Really, you know, in my op ed, I said this, I said, look, Facebook’s members, half the world’s population are members of Facebook. And now they’re dipping down to six to 12 year olds with Facebook messenger. And with this new idea of Instagram, Um, you know, why do they need that?

And, You know, does that mean we should give up? Absolutely not. And now you’ve got the government involved. You’ve got, you know, the FTC involved, you got 48 states attorneys, generals involved, um, you know, competition capitalism is a great system, as long as it allows for fair competition. And so why would I give up?

That’s not my.

Andrew: You don’t you know what? You’re really good at. Here’s what, what I. Myra about me. We, you get into the conversation whenever there’s an, whenever there’s someone talking about Facebook being wrong, it legitimate taking us down a wrong path. There’s an opportunity for you to enter and say, but me, we is here and here’s an off-ramp come over to us.

Your PR people must be phenomenal. Or your PR machine. What is it? Is it just you and one other person who I’ve been talking to to book this

Mark: Yes, that’s it. That is our entire PR machine. So our PR machine is my marketing director who wears many hats. He’s really like, you know, my personal right-hand person. We work on so many things, including outreach to Facebook groups and letting people know, remember me. We is translated into 20 languages worldwide.

Our growth

Andrew: but you’re in Facebook groups. You’re going into Facebook group. You’re going into Facebook groups and saying, if you’re not happy here, come over to me. We

Mark: Absolutely. David is always looking for that, you know? Um, yeah. You know, because that’s what you want to do is have people come over that are immediately connected with. So w and remember everybody be, we as also listen me, we as 99% lifestyle. Well, there’s all this politics around Facebook and , but maybe it’s really about entertainment and sports and food and music, you know, um, all the things that people love, you know, we’ve got a half million open groups.

You can find anything you’re interested in, or you can start them and get members. Uh, we’ve got great. pages. Um, you know, we got a, really, a lot of cool stuff, but it’s very authentic. I like to say Facebook is for the facade of your life, like your fake life and me, we use for your real life,

Andrew: Why aren’t you posting more on me? We you’re like everyone’s first friend on me. We you’re doing now once a month, once every two weeks, what’s going on.

Mark: you know? Um, I don’t want to. Inter, you know, interfere, you know, it’s, it’s, I’ve chosen not to be sort of like an Elon Musk. Um, and of course my whole followings inside me weak. Cause you don’t see me posting outside on social. Um, and I know, you know, probably I should post more, but what we’ve decided. Is there is a group called me, we news and updates.

And as you know, that’s where I post. Um, but we’ve decided not to make that the focal point because we want people to be connecting with their friends. And, you know, I don’t want to keep sort of throwing the Kool-Aid at them. You know? I mean, we’re right. Everybody knows where, right. If you look at the over half million reviews in the play store and iTunes, um, people love us.

We get a 4.4 out of five rating versus Facebook’s 2.2 out of five. You know, um, and, but you’re right. I I’ve gotta do more to inspire our members and to aspire people about, you know, this movie is social done. Right. And let’s get the word out.

Andrew: Maybe talk more about some of the sub self-improvement stuff you still into self-improvement

Mark: it for sure. I take

leadership trainings all the time.

Andrew: from who? Who are you following?

Mark: um, you know, I’m still in this world, I’d have to go look at my bookshelf to see, you know, the, uh, the 10 books that are waiting for me. And even the interesting ones. Listen, I even just bought, like, just for entertainment. I mean, I loved Anthony Bordain and so I just bought, you know, I’m now reading on my night reading is just reading, like, you know, I just read Naples with him and NAPE.

Uh, you know, in Italy, you know, so I’m just reading little chapters every night right now, just so inspiring. He was such a wonderful man. I

Andrew: I miss actually the way that I used to enjoy self-improvement audio. Like Wayne Dyer used to be so simple. He was just like a folksy type of person. I got so much value out of going into school everyday, listening to someone like him. And it’s been a while since I could get into it with the same passion, I think I’m looking for something different now, but I miss the simplicity of the old days of

Mark: You know, who’s cool like that. Remember, um, uh, um, Reverend Michael Beckwith, um, uh, got paid.

Andrew: No. I, my wife introduced me to him. He was in the secret and he had like the cool Lou looked him, right?

Mark: Michael Is now in our advisory.

Andrew: he

Mark: Yeah. So, you know, I mean, you know, I’m also, and Michael’s books are beautiful, very simple. He’s got like this book about, you know, 365 days, a little, you know, meditation for every day. Um, you know, I call him Reverend Michael brother, Michael. He is.

a beautiful human beings.

So if you look for it, you know, where am I getting inspiration today? Every time I talk to Michael, I am inspired.

Andrew: All right. The website is me. We want a great domain name for such a good price. Um, congratulations on getting this far. I feel like you’ve got such a big challenge ahead of you, but I’ll just keep following along and seeing what you’re doing and

Mark: you know the future. We didn’t talk really about what’s next for me. We but there is a lot right in front of us. There’s some big

stuff coming. Um,

Andrew: Like what,

Mark: so keep your eyes open and

yeah, go ahead.

Andrew: you know, what mark thinking about the future. I I’m looking at this and it feels to me like a lot of what me we is, it’s like a reproduction of Facebook without the, without the ads and tracking. And so on. What I’m seeing though, is that the future of social could be completely different from this.

It could be something like as out there as tick-tock was when it came out or has. Independent and independent from a company as bit cloud has been, you know, where it’s all on a, on a, on the chain, it could be something like telegram. Why are you banking on this, this approach? The more Facebook, proper design, you know, as opposed to some of their other properties.

Mark: Well, um, first of all, we have engineered, we had secret chat, so we had a WhatsApp competitive product or Facebook messenger. Uh we’re we’re going to be re-engineering that we had that already. We launched it a few years ago. Now we’ve taken it off line so we can re-engineer. Um, you know, we have an enterprise division called me, we pro we’re about to take that offline to re-engineer it so that people can have this vertical integration.

Um, you know, we’re going to get into, you know, better, you know, interesting content on me. We better content creation tools, but also some content that our members can enjoy and watch together on me. We, uh, music, et cetera. Um, But I’ll tell you, Andrew, it’s really straightforward. Think about this is the kitchen table ever going to go. And what I mean is the proverbial kitchen table that we have a conversation with our family and friends.

Andrew: But the digital version changes, the digital version changes dramatically. Even Facebook itself is seeing a lot of changes in it’s Instagram. That’s the hot property. And then if it’s not Instagram, it’s going to be chat or something else.

Mark: No, no, no, no, no, listen, man, no way, no way. Do you have brothers and sisters, you have friends. Um, it’s one thing to be consuming content, which is what you’re doing on Instagram and Tik TOK, or maybe you’re, you’re one of their new stars and listen to those sites. That’s fun. That’s great. Um, But the kitchen tables never going away.

And the key is just like how Tim invented the web. Just like the kitchen table has been around since human beings have been around. We need to have a place where we can authentically communicate where we can authentically find new friends and authentically connect with our common interest, using the greatest and best technology.

Uh, and. You know, there’s always a place. Facebook has evolved because Facebook wasn’t listen Facebook. Facebook’s not a social network. Facebook is an advertising and marketing company masquerading as a social network. Me, we is truly a social network, social platform for real conversations, for, you know, a great content creation.

That’s meaningful and fun. And that’s what you find in our groups. And that’s what you find people doing their newsfeeds or where they spend most of their time. Um, because

Andrew: I am finding myself, spend more time with close friends on iMessage. And unfortunately I hate it, but WhatsApp. Um, and I hate WhatsApp because I can’t, first of all, because it’s from Facebook and then number two, because I can’t get it on my iPad. At the same time, but it does seem to go. It seems like chat is where our closest friends are.

And if it’s not these smaller chats on iMessage, it’s like a

Mark: yeah.

Andrew: chat instead of, instead of

Mark: Yeah, Mimi’s chat is

Andrew: So you’re saying,

Mark: Yeah, we have great checks and listen, we have chats in our groups. We have chat everywhere. So

Andrew: All right, What I’m hearing you say is, look, Andrew, this stuff has been invented. It doesn’t matter. We don’t need to reinvent the way that people communicate. What we need to do is just take what they love already, but take out the stuff they hate, which is tracking, uh, advertising and everything that goes along with manipulating people into watching more of the stuff they don’t want.

Mark: And then keep enhancing, keep enhancing. We’ll get music on the platform. We’ll get followers on profiles. So people that want to get, get away from Twitter can come over, you know, get it on me, we, um, and always by serving. Uh, our members, our members, as I said, our customers to serve and delight. That’s why people love and trust me, we, and that’s the key, listen, Russia, Saudia, you know, the founder of the worldwide woman called conscious capitalism as he has reams of evidence, that companies that do well do better than others. I mean, you know, by, by doing the right thing. So me always here, and you know, when you say we’ve saved very simply, you know, social done right.

with no BS.

Andrew: All right. Thanks so much for being on here, mark. I dig you. I’m glad we got to talk. Thank you all for listening. Bye everyone

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