Quoted: What about anonymous apps in the wake of Secret’s shutdown?

“How do you build viral growth when the community is anonymous?”

Brian Blau, analyst at Gartner, reacting to the shutdown of Secret. The social-networking app, which provided a way for users to share posts anonymously, had raised $35 million since its founding less than two years ago and had a valuation of $100 million.

Secret co-founder David Byttow said in a Medium post Wednesday that the app, which was used by more than 15 million people, “does not represent the vision I had when starting the company… 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. I look forward to seeing what others in this space do over time.”

Yes, the anonymity Secret provided was used to harass people.

Byttow said the San Francisco-based startup would be returning money to its investors — although reports note that he and co-founder Chrys Bader, who had left the company in January, had sold some of their stake for $6 million. Among Secret’s investors are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures and actor Ashton Kutcher.

The reason Byttow cited for Secret’s shutdown — the inevitable issues that anonymity brings — wasn’t the only problem the startup was facing. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Secret’s download numbers were dropping, and a redesign didn’t seem to help. Other employees had followed Bader out the door.

By the way, another anonymous app, Whisper, announced Wednesday that it now has 10 million users. But Secret’s demise is raising questions about the future of anonymous apps.

Selena Larson writes for the Daily Dot:

There might be a place for anonymous apps, but perhaps the Internet isn’t mature enough yet. As software attempts to provide a veil of anonymity to users, it must also offer comprehensive tools and restrictions on the community at the outset—what is allowed and not allowed on the platform should be determined up front, not after users are maliciously driven off the app.


Photo from Thinkstock


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  • John Smith

    Try Speakz!
    better by far than secret and you can talk with your near friends!