MeWe, a privacy-focused social network that runs no advertising, has hired entertainment and tech exec Jeffrey Edell as CEO as the upstart looks to lure more celebrities to the platform.
Edell, who also is joining MeWe’s board of directors, succeeds company founder Mark Weinstein, who is assuming the new role of chief evangelist.
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Edell has previously held senior-level roles at companies including chairman of Intermix Media, former parent of MySpace; CEO of Soundelux Entertainment Group; CFO of Cinedigm; and president/COO of DIC Entertainment. Most recently he was president/CFO of WTG Enterprises, an entertainment licensing firm. He’s a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Television Academy, and the Producers Guild of America (PGA). He also once worked as an entertainment CPA at KPMG.
“People worldwide are migrating from Facebook, Instagram and other major platforms to MeWe because it is the social network that respects its members as customers to serve and delight, not data to share, target, or sell,” Edell said in a statement. “MeWe is for authentic, real-life sharing with friends, family, and common interests, as well as following celebrities, artists, and influencers without ads or algorithms interfering.”
L.A.-based MeWe says it’s the first social network with a “privacy bill of rights” that guarantees its users total control of their data, news feeds and privacy. The company’s advisory board includes Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.
Celebrities and influencers on MeWe include comedy duo Cheech & Chong; music artist Mario; pro surfer Kelly Slater; model and TV personality Crystal Hefner; and James Maslow (actor-singer from “Big Time Rush”).
MeWe claims it has more than 17 million members, of which about 6 million (35%) are active users, and that half of its traffic originates outside of North America. Users can join MeWe for free. The MeWe Premium subscription ($4.99 per month) provides enhanced features such as video journals for stories; live voice and video calling; extra cloud storage; unlimited custom themes; and unlimited custom emoji and sticker packs.
To date, MeWe has raised about $23 million. Investors include former NFL exec Rick Smith; Earth, Wind & Fire bassist Verdine White; surfer Kelly Slater; Boku founder and PayPal exec Mark Britto; fashion designer Rachel Roy; author Marci Shimoff, who cowrote six books in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series; and Jack Canfield, founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul. In 2019, Dany Garcia — CEO of Seven Bucks Productions and founder, CEO and chairwoman of the Garcia Companies and TGC Management — said she had invested in MeWe; a rep for Garcia told Variety that she is not affiliated with MeWe any longer.
In 2012, Weinstein launched a privacy-by-design social media project called Sgrouples that was the prototype for MeWe, which officially launched at SXSW in 2016.
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