A Message from Vlada Bortnik, CEO and Co-Founder
The extraordinary level of connection that the world is experiencing during this coronavirus time is beyond anything any of us in the tech industry could have planned for or predicted. As we look around, we see clearly how Marco Polo – built to be good for you – is playing an important role in maintaining human connection through face-to-face relationships, which are critical to our ongoing mental and physical well-being.
“Marco Polo is emerging as the happy, authentic, soothing social app the world needs now…It is the rare social platform that feels like an oasis, a safe space,” said a recent report in Vogue.
We understand the critical role we’re playing right now, and we take it seriously. We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure Marco Polo is free for millions of people for decades to come.
Introducing Marco Polo Plus
Earlier this year, our team began building Marco Polo Plus, a paid membership plan, to not only deliver a premium experience for our millions of fans, but also to deliver on a promise to make our business sustainable in a way that is true to our values. We’ve been listening to all of you, curating requests for features that make Marco Polo even more convenient, and enhancing ways to make this primary mode of communication even better.
Marco Polo Plus delivers on a promise to make our business sustainable in a way that is true to our values.
We are unveiling Marco Polo Plus to support our mission and launch our best version yet. Plus is a membership plan that unlocks premium features, an elevated experience that includes more functionality, unlimited versions of free features, and new, fun ways to use the app, all designed to help you stay connected more effortlessly and joyously. I’m excited to share more details soon.
Currently, we’re only rolling out the new product to a limited percentage of our user base so we can test, iterate, learn, and listen, and we’re going to continue doing that in the coming weeks. We understand that for our loyal users, change to a beloved app can be surprising. That’s why we’re giving existing users the option to switch back to the original Marco Polo version. We are working to make Marco Polo sustainable so our core offering is available free for people for decades to come, and we want to be as non-disruptive to the experience as possible.
To be certain, Marco Polo is and will remain a free app. We’ve had a free app for years with the singular goal of helping people feel close. We’re a purpose driven company. That aspect will never change. If the premium upgrade isn’t a fit for your life right now, no problem. We’ll continue to invest in making sure the free experience is a great one. No matter the changes now or in the future, we’ll always provide unlimited opportunity to stay in touch with the people who matter most to you.
As we test, refine, and continue to iterate on this best version yet, some features in our old version of Marco Polo have been improved and will only be available in our Plus version. Our new free version of Marco Polo will continue to provide unlimited ability to chat, with an unlimited number of contacts, and the unlimited ability to create groups.
The core of what users have come to love about Marco Polo is unlimited, free, and will never change.
Sustainable business built to be good for you
While many would like to compare, we’re very different from other social networking and video chat apps. From the start, we’ve committed to never collecting our user data to sell to advertisers. We will never show ads in Marco Polo. We will never use “likes” or social comparisons or manipulate algorithms. We were built to be good for you.
To be certain, Marco Polo is and will remain a free app.
We often hear, “So, how does the business make money?” Well, we don’t. Yet.
We never planned to release a paid membership plan at a time when we’re all looking for ways to cut. But as Marco Polo Plus was long in the works to deliver our best version, and for the sake of sustainability, the timing is right for our business. We have been steadfast in our commitment to help people feel close, and today we realize how urgently important that work is to help prevent the “social recession.” Human connection is having its long overdue moment. And we are here for it, as we always have been.
From the start, we’ve committed to never collecting our user data to sell to advertisers. We will never show ads in Marco Polo.
“Marco Polo users were significantly less lonely, exhibited fewer depressive symptoms, and had higher life satisfaction than Snapchat users…Marco Polo users may be capitalizing on positive health-related outcomes, compared to users of other social media,” as recently published in a Brigham Young University study.
The way we see it, human connection has always been important. It’s just that now, our busy lives and global system have been shocked with current events, and we are prioritizing what matters. We’re now actually holding on to what matters. Perfectly curated social posts for the world to see don’t tell the story of our lives, now or really ever.
We must safeguard our close relationships
Lately, I find myself turning to the words of Dr. Vivek Murthy, who recently said in The Atlantic, “Relationships with other people are the foundation on which humans build healthy, fulfilling lives, so we must safeguard them.”
We are committed now and always to safeguarding your close relationships, making it easy and joyful to stay in touch, protecting privacy, and continuing to build an emotionally nutritious experience.
This belief is at the core of how I know we can become a sustainable business in a way that feels true to ourselves and our millions of Marco Polo fans.
“Relationships with other people are the foundation on which humans build healthy, fulfilling lives, so we must safeguard them.” –Dr. Vivek Murthy
Thank you to our loyalists around the world, and to our newest members of the Marco Polo community. We are forever grateful, and we hope you are safe and connected in these trying times.
Stay tuned for many more details on our paid membership plan Marco Polo Plus, coming soon.
Co-Founder and CEO