Vero was supposed to be the better Instagram. It was supposed to save social media. It was supposed to do loads of things that other blip-on-the-radar social networks like Ello and Peach promised. Turns out Vero doesn’t do very much of anything, and its CEO is genuinely awful.
At first blush Vero is a sort of night-mode Instagram that doesn’t force crop photos, and it has a whole bunch of ancillary features for sorting various interests its users might have. All of that might be OK, if the app functioned properly. Since downloading Vero early this week, I’ve been unable to upload any photos. Uploading photos to a photo-sharing app is, one assumes, a core feature, but I could be missing something. Nothing is impossible.
Search is broken, too. The app reports a “server side time-out” repeatedly while open, and when blessedly closed it nags me with push notifications to “complete my collections,” another feature that refuses to work at all.
Replying via Zendesk, a Vero rep gave the following reply:
We are currently experiencing intermittent technical issues due to extremely high traffic. As a result, some parts of the platform may not be working correctly. We are working to resolve this as soon as possible! I apologize for the inconvenience.
If the issue you are experiencing continues after the technical issues are resolved, please let us know and I’ll assign one of our developers to look in to this for you.
What are a few technical difficulties in exchange for the future of authentic online connection? As it happens, just enough time to discover the team behind Vero is headed by a notorious violator of labor rights. Per the Daily Beast’s Taylor Lorenz:
Before beginning his social media escapades, [CEO Ayman] Hariri served as deputy chief executive officer and vice chairman of his family’s now defunct construction company, Saudi Oger, a business that was the source of most of his family’s wealth [...] under Hariri’s watch over 31,000 complaints of non payment for wages were filed against the Saudi Oger.
The company was so negligent that in some cases the Saudi Arabian government had to step in and provide food and basic living supplies to workers spurned by the company.
The company shut down last July, leaving thousands of its workers unpaid.
Instagram and its corporate parent Facebook are clear heels that a significant portion of people might want an alternative to. Vero just isn’t it.
Update 2/28/18 2:05pm ET: A representative of Vero contacted Gizmodo less than an hour after our post to demand an immediate update, claiming the timeline of Ayman Hariri’s tenure with Saudi Oger from The Daily Beast was inaccurate. We found it odd the only source stating Hariri had exited the business in late December of 2013 was Hariri’s own Wikipedia page, which had been anonymously edited to include this information yesterday.
Gizmodo found several links from after 2013 claiming Hariri’s continued position at Saudi Oger, one of which contained an interview with the cousin of Hariri’s late father. The most recent link, dated February 17 2016, is a press release from Vero itself wherein it refers to the company’s CEO with the following language:
Ayman Hariri is the co-founder and CEO of next-generation social platform Vero. He is also Vice Chairman & Deputy CEO of Saudi Oger Ltd., one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and most diversified construction companies. Prior to his roles with Vero and Saudi Oger, he co-founded the identity management software firm Epok. Ayman currently resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with his wife and three children.
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