Although MeWe had been around for several years, it has been gaining increasing attention in recent times, thanks to its slight approach to moderating content people share. With popular social sites like Twitter and Facebook clamping down on what it regards as misleading information and inciteful statements, MeWe has gained popularity among anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and conservatives. While it has been described in some quarters as an app for Trump supporters and an alt-tech platform, MeWe has insisted it is only championing freedom of expression and offering an alternative to big technology companies that spy and sell people’s information to advertisers.
Meet Mark Weinstein, The Founder of MeWe
Mostly known as the Founder and Chief Evangelist of MeWe, Mark Weinstein has become a prominent figure who advocates for privacy in social networking. He has always been involved with activities that revolve around the internet and even considers himself to be one of the early founders of social media. A student of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Mark obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy/Sociology and would later attend UCLA Anderson School of Management. This was from 1989 to 1991 and he obtained an MBA in Strategic Market Management and Organizational Excellence from the institution.
Author of the Habitually Great book series, Mark was once a blogger for Huffington Post technology and his work has been published on other popular media establishments. He resides in Silicon Valley and is inclined to athletics. He has climbed Kala Patthar and was a silver medalist at the USOC State Games of America (tennis) in 2015.
Weinstein’s exploits as an internet entrepreneur dates back to the 1990s when he founded SuperGroups.com, Inc. Founded in 1998, the company demonstrated the viability of social networks on the web through sites like SuperFamily.com, SuperFriends.com, SuperFamilia.com, SuperAlumni.com, and SuperBizGroups.com. Unfortunately, SuperGroups ceased to operate in 2001 as it couldn’t raise operating cash to remain in business.
Career Journey Towards Founding MeWe In May 2012
For the years SuperGroup lasted, Mark Weinstein served as its Chairman and CEO. Thereafter, he became the CEO of Peak Life Habits, Inc. This lasted for over a decade, from January 2002 to December 2012. Sometime in 2007, he began participating in Renaissance Weekends, a non-partisan retreat designed to facilitate cooperation among innovative leaders from diverse sectors.
According to his Linkedin profile, he has been the CEO of Sgrouples.com since January 2012. Sgrouples, as hinted earlier, is the parent company of MeWe and MeWePRO. From what we gathered, it was the stealth mode beta platform used to develop, test, and rollout MeWe and its PRO version. As culled from MeWe’s about page, the idea for it was conceived over dinner in Albuquerque, New Mexico, between good friends. It is said that Weinstein’s dream to revolutionize online communications had him envisage a social and chat app with an in-built privacy design that wouldn’t monitor users as they network with people.
To bring this dream to reality, Weinstein moved to Mountain View, California, and built a team of visionary individuals who are determined to revolutionize social media. Their goal was to build a platform that wouldn’t only rival Facebook but assure privacy and respect the users. First, Mark founded and created the Sgrouples beta project. Then, he hired a group of engineers to design and build what he regards as the world’s first social network with privacy-by-design. The Sgrouples beta project lasted for three years and ultimately served as the testing platform for MeWe’s launch.
So, while the social media platform was officially launched in 2016 at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival, it had been existing since 2012, albeit as Sgrouples.
How Is MeWe Different from Facebook and Other Popular Social Sites?
People have noticed that MeWe is like another version of Facebook, this is not a mistake. Right from when it was being developed, the aim was to build a platform that would rival Facebook and provide a better user experience and safety. Although the platform seems to be an unpopular alternative to Facebook, it has been gaining increasing popularity which has been attributed to the fact that it does not carry out much content moderation.
However, MeWe has insisted that its popularity is due to the fact that it champions the right to privacy. The company has always promoted the platform as a safe place for social networking. It does not feature ads and asserts itself to be free from advertisers and politicians. Like other social sites, MeWe can be used on Android and iOS smartphones as much as it can be used on desktops and tablets.
Against the claim that it is a platform where everything goes, MeWe contends that it has made clear through its Terms of Service that violence inciters, bullies, lawbreakers, pornographers, spammers, and things of that sort are prohibited. MeWe is available in 19 languages. It offers artists and content creators of all kinds a free space to connect with their fans with no interference of any kind. While they wouldn’t have to pay to boost their content, they can promote and monetize their content in whatever manner they like. The fact that the site is ad-free has raised concern about its profitability with many wondering how it makes money.
Mark Weinstein’s Net Worth and How His Social Media Site Makes Money
As MeWe continues to grow, with a gain of as much as 2.5 million new members in a week, it has had people speculating on how the social site makes money and the net worth of the man known as its founder. According to Weinstein, MeWe generated $1.2 million in revenue in 2020 and witnessed a 300 percent revenue growth between November and December.
MeWe is free with no room for ads. However, it makes money through optional enhancement features that range from extra storage space to live voice and live video calling; custom emojis and stickers; dark mode and other overlays, and exclusive MeWe journals. Respectively, these optional features cost $3.99, $1.99, $0.99 cents, $1.99, and $1.99 per month. Also, there is an option for users to upgrade to MeWe Premium and get a bundle of all the premium features for $4.99 per month.
That’s not all; the company also has a monetized platform designed for business. MeWe says its MeWePRO is in direct competition with Slack as it is also designed to offer a fully integrated collaboration tool for the work environment. While it is free for educational and non-profit establishments, MeWePRO charges about $75 per year for each employee of any organization using it.
MeWe has about 100 employees and it is not clear if it is already a profitable establishment, just as Mark Weinstein’s net worth has been left to speculations. Various platforms have estimated his net worth to be between $5 and $100 million. This is far from an intelligent guess, the value of the man’s wealth is simply not known, at least for now.
Meet Jonathan Wolfe – The Man Touted As A Co-founder of MeWe
Regarded in some quarters as someone who pioneered the culture of using the internet to foster collaboration, Jonathan’s relationship with Mark dates back to the SuperGroup days. After he built his first webpage in 1995, Jonathan reportedly partnered with Mark to co-found SuperFriends.com and SuperFamily.com. It is said that he has been programming since 1981 and has versatile knowledge of programming languages. An expert on the challenges that comes with complex web interaction, he has a knack for creating interfaces that are simple but intuitive, an attribute that possibly benefited MeWe.
A student of Johns Hopkins, Jonathan Wolfe graduated from the private research university in Baltimore, Maryland with a biophysics degree; this was in 1990. He would further his education to the point of obtaining a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Outside this, he dedicatedly studied programming, information architecture, user design, human factors engineering, and whatnot.
As learned from a credible source, the leadership group of SuperGroup which went out of business in 2001, reunited in 2011 with Mark Weinstein to build Sgrouples. This was after sites like Facebook and LinkedIn became very successful, proving that the SuperGroups initiative was a great one. Given that Jonathan cofounded some SuperGroups sites (SuperFamily.com and SuperFriends.com), it is not out of place to imagine he was part of the leadership team that reunited to build Sgrouples. As you would soon learn, MeWe acknowledged in a tweet that he worked with the company until 2015. While this confirms that he played a role in setting up the social media platform, is he a co-founder of MeWe as reported in some circles?
Did Wolfe Really Co-found MeWe?
Back in August 2018, a Twitter user suggested that Jonathan Wolfe co-founded the social media platform. Responding to the tweet, MeWe stated that Wolfe has not had anything to do with the company since 2015. “We have only one founder, Mark Weinstein”, added the company. Despite this, several reports have continued to name Wolfe as a cofounder of MeWe. To the best of our knowledge, he was once the Chief Scientist of the company. In that capacity, he reportedly led the design of MeWe’s interface and managed a team of developers.
Jonathan Wolfe has not worked for MeWe since 2015. His politics are/were none of our business. We do not ask employees what their politics are, that is un-American! As a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Jonathan's work was good. We have only one founder, Mark Weinstein. He is Libertarian.
— MeWe (@mewe) August 14, 2018
While Jonathan Wolfe, based on MeWe’s tweet above, is not a co-founder of MeWe, we can confirm he is the Founder and Executive Director of the Fractal Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit establishment based in New Mexico and its activities revolve around using fractals to stir people’s interest in art, math, and science. Spreading knowledge is important to Wolfe: he is the IT Director of the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO, an initiative created to tackle climate change, education, and healthcare challenges through making knowledge accessible and at the right time.
The Company Is Privately Owned and Has Investors
Sgrouples, the company that owns MeWe, is privately held. What this means is that MeWe does not trade its shares on the stock market exchanges to the general public. Instead, its stock is privately obtained. Given this, it is difficult to tell who the major shareholders of MeWe are, apart from Mark Weinstein. However, in the first few years of the company, it attracted some investors and was able to raise several millions of dollars for funding.
It had its Series A fundraising in July 2018 and reported that it raised $5.2 million. A subsequent round of funding brought the figure to $10 million and in an interview with U.S. News in January 2021, Mark Weinstein disclosed that the company raised about $22 million from high net worth investors.
These investors should own some percentage of the company and they include the famous fashion designer Rachel Irene Roy, Lynda Susan Weinman, the founder of online software training website, lynda.com; Marci Shimoff, and the popular author cum motivational speaker, Jack Canfield. Other possible shareholders of the company include Tim Berners-Lee, the English computer scientist famed as the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Sherry Turkle, an academic expert on the impact of technology on humans. Tim and Sherry are both members of the company’s advisory board.
List of Possible Shareholders of MeWe
- Jeffrey Edell
- Mark Weinstein
- William Max Duncan
- Tim Berners-Lee
- Sherry Turkle
- Rachel Irene Roy
- Lynda Susan Weinman
- Marci Shimoff
- Jack Canfield