kaioo is a new social network based in Hamburg which claims to be “the first real social community on the internet, because it is non-profit, democratic and independent”. While the myriad of social networks out there might be social in the sense that they provide their members possibilities to engage and communicate with each other, their really real social approach adds a layer of charity on top of those not so real social interactions.

screenshot kaioo

Feature wise kaioo is basically a stripped down version of Facebook. Members get a profile, can add photo albums, join groups and communicate or flirt with other members. That’s about it, nothing we haven’t seen thousands of times. But while popular social networks are run by greedy corporations who only care about maximising their ad revenues and selling attention data to the highest bidder, kaioo plays the altruistic card.

If millions of users “work” virtually free for the operator of a social network, that creates great value for the owner. As a non-profit organization, kaioo does what simply makes sense: kaioo gives the profits that its users generate back to the community by donating the money to charitable causes.

In a way they want to out-good their competition. kaioo has been accredited as non-profit foundation and donates all the money that the user generate to charity, users even can suggest and vote which projects shall be supported. The founders Thomas Kreye and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz provided 500.000 euro seed investment, further operational costs will be covered by sponsors.

Ideally we have created a cash machine which guarantees millions of euro for donations each year.

CEO Thomas Kreye told news magazine the Spiegel.

I am not against charity and I don’t want to allege anything but the best intentions of the founders, but charity does not seem to be a good reason to join and use a social network because more value is destroyed than created. It would be great if users join the site because they felt like it is the best site to use for them. They would make the best out of their time, charities would benefit and users would feel good about themselves because they are part in this. But if they join only because of the charity aspect (and kaioo is pressing this argument a tad too hard) they have to face costs of lost opportunities since other social networks might way better suit their needs, have stronger communities, are more fun to use or hang out, provide more valuable features, etc.

screenshot kaioo

kaioo was founded by Thomas Kreye, former Director of Business Development at Bertelsman AG, and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, the CEO of SonyBMG. Sebastian Ebert joined them as COO.

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This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here.