While the average internet user in 2015 may never again truly experience online anonymity, that hasn’t stopped a few start-ups from giving consumers a taste of anonymous communication (within their own apps, at least).
Interestingly, Secret’s shutting down has absolutely nothing to do with financing issues (a hurdle many start-ups never overcome); the company has raised over $35 million since launching in late 2013. Investors in Secret — once valued at $100 million — include Google Ventures & Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.
Secret’s death blow was preceded by several well-publicized left hooks — beginning when cyberbullying by some of the app’s anonymous userbase (which CEO David Byttow brushed aside in this interview with TechCrunch) became a major area of discussion during last year’s SXSW. Following a much-criticized redesign of Secret (which made the app look damn near identical to other popular anonymity app YikYak), co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler left the company, after the founders cashed-in a portion of their own shares during Series B funding (netting $6 million between them).
With a heavy heart, I’ve decided to shut down Secret, wind-down the company, and return the remaining money. https://t.co/HZUCMe3xFu
— David Byttow (@davidbyttow) April 29, 2015
After reaching the 11th spot in the App Store’s social networking category last August, Secret has fallen out of the top 1500 apps according to App Annie. The company has also lost other top talent following Bader-Wechseler’s departure, and rumors say Secret was down to 10 employees as of late.
It is not known at this time how much of investors’ money is available to be returned — though, Byttow has promised to publish some post mortems following Secret’s shut down (which has not been given a date as of yet) so “others can learn” from the company’s mistakes.