Secret, an anonymous sharing social networking app that was launched last February is shutting down its doors. The news was announced in a blog post by David Byttow, the founder and CEO of the app. Seems like it had cost the company $35 million to figure out anonymity online will not work on long-term.
Secret app is a social networking app that allows the users to post snippets of text, like confessions or rumors. The post does not post the user’s name to maintain anonymity but other details like location would be. The idea behind the app was that people are create unreal and inauthentic version of themselves in the digital world. There were two-way how people used it. For some anonymity enables honesty and let people have more truthful and honest exchanges and for others it motivates people to engage in bad behavior like bullying or even worse because everything is anonymous.
This app launched in February last year grew along with its other competitors like Whisper and Yik Yak in the market. It garnered a lot of attention from people during its launch and grew up drastically. In August last year, the app hit its height of popularity. According to App Annie, a service that monitors the traction of mobile apps stated it was ranked 11 under the social-networking category and ranked 61 under the overall Apple’s App Store. In the next month, the ranking of the app fell and couldn’t manage to secure a place in top 1500 apps.
The app went though the redesigning process late last year and reworked on many features and managed to pump up the app’s popularity. Though it couldn’t manage to secure the previous ranks, it managed to secure 74th place under social networking and nearly 995 under the overall category. Many engineers of the company quit the company early this year which took a toll on the company.
Unlike most of the startups that shutdown their services because of its disability of repay its debts or being unable to raise the needed fund, Secret app’s close down has nothing to do with money. The company has recently raised $35 million from its investors that includes Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures and the company was valued to be $100 million.
Many criticisms rose against Secret app that it was an unsafe place and it served as a platform for cyber bullying. Many incidents were reported of cyber bullying and threats for which the app has put on age restriction of 18 years and above. But unfortunately, the app’s response to the criticisms was not quick which gave it rotten reputation with many. Then came the news of shutting down in the following months.
Byttow has mentioned in his blog that, “After a lot of thought and consultation with our board, I have decided to shut down Secret. This has been the hardest decision of my life and one that saddens me deeply. Unfortunately, Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company, so I believe it’s the right decision for myself, our investors and our team.” He also added, “I believe in honest, open communication and creative expression and anonymity is a great device to achieve it. But it’s also the ultimate double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care.”
The company had already began to notify its employees about its shutdown and has already started the process of issuing severance package. The remaining funds are being distributed among the investors. The investors are not very surprised about the company’s decision. An investor Garry Tan said it is just another day in the silicon valley. He who expects to get the money back ,also said, “Consumer apps are very fickle. A VC fund will have dozens and dozens of companies. Half of them will go sideways and in fact most of them go to zero.”
No matter what the reason would be, the decision to close Secret seems more admirable than not. The growth of the app was faster than the capability of the team to adapt to its speed. And when they were riding on the wave of success, its normal for anyone not to mess with it. This kind of behavior going unnoticed is just irresponsible and would only lead to failure and hurting its employees in the process.