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Last March, an application called "Yik Yak" swept the men and women of Woodward Academy, Elizabeth Long. At lunchtime, the campus radio came to teach the director's voice: "Recently heard that many people in the school Yik Yak Anonymous spread rumors, slander classmates, and someone took my photos to the great God p after put up." If anyone is found on my cell phone, Ann Yik Yak, I will stay after school. ”
That night, long brushed his Yik Yak and found that he had written thousands of Yak from his classmates within 2400 meters.
A few months ago, long had been hospitalized for attempted suicide. The 17-year-old Yik Yak to see a lot of yak not only mentioned his depression, but also encouraged him to commit suicide.
"The first Yak wrote: ' Long every day to show himself how almost suicide success, he did not try, go to suicide." ”
Yik Yak's popularity in Woodward Academy has made people more familiar with the product and its two founders--tyler droll and Brooks Buffington. Yik Yak has the skill to occupy the campus in a day, even on a college campus. Students like this application, it let them out of social status differences, speak freely. But at the same time, anonymity has also led users to display their hidden darker side. Soon, teenagers became their Yik Yak.
In Alabama, someone used Yik Yak anonymous PO to create a campus shooting threat. Three schools in the region have heard the news and have tightened security measures. In Massachusetts, a bomb threat was taken to Yik Yak, forcing a high school to evacuate students two times.
After hearing about long, droll and Buffington suddenly realized that they had made a big mistake.
"After getting feedback from students, parents and teachers, we realize that if you want to build a long lasting platform, you must not build it into a gossip site," Droll said. "These popular things will soon fade. ”
Yik Yak's success was almost unimaginable, and in 1.5, 1600 colleges and universities were using the app. In the months after the line, Yik Yak download volume has reached 100,000 times. Now, Yik Yak's monthly active users have reached millions of. Last December, the well-known VC company Sequoia Capital Yik Yak, investment amount of 62 million U.S. dollars, valued at 400 million.
Anonymity and hyper-localization (hyper-local) are the Yik Yak high popularity, but if you control the user's behavior, it may be the trigger to destroy the start-up company. If 1.5 builds a company worth 400 million is not dazzling enough, then droll and Buffinton were sued by a former Brotherhood member, said he also occupies Yik Yak One-third shares the matter certainly to be surprised.
"It's a social experiment and I don't know how it's going to end," said Yik Yak, an investor at the Early-stage financing stage.
We're not another Zuckerberg.
Yik Yak's two founders are not well-known, they are all Atlanta natives, are high school athletes, and are never "stray to the distance" sparrow, but it is they opened the 400 million valuation of the commercial gate.
Buffington and Dorll are both entrepreneurial partners and roommates. They live in a three-room apartment with another roommate, a 10-minute walk from the company. In the bathroom mirror, there is always a marker, which makes it easier for them to record new ideas about Yik Yak that pop out of their heads when they brush their teeth. The best friends have never been to Silicon Valley, nor have they worked in the technology industry. Droll is more than two people who know more about technology, but he is also the beginning of the university just contact write code.
"They're not at all like Mark Zuckerberg in the field, they're gregarious, they're fun, they love to lie down, they know all about the school and the students ' needs," says Yik Yak's investor, Kevin Colleran.
Droll and Buffington both attended Furman University in Southern California, a school with 2,700 students. Buffington chose here because it covers more than 300 hectares of large campuses, while droll the opportunity to play tennis and become a pre-med student.
Sophomore year, droll selected computer science as his second degree. "Everyone thinks that your science is so good that you should be a doctor." I like to solve problems, the core of computer science is to solve problems. ”
In Computer science class, droll met his brother Dougie Warstler. Both of them attended the Kappa Alpha Brotherhood, where Buffington was already a member. Warstler chose Buffington as his brother and friend in the Brotherhood.
Warstler sued Buffington and droll for millions of dollars, claiming he was the third founder of Yik Yak.
The game between brothers
In the spring of 2012, droll and Warstler teamed up to develop an iphone app called "Fry Cook" in Computer science classes. Although Fry Cook was never put into use, droll and warstler still work together, and Buffington joined the team later.
The trio has also developed a quick-voting application called "Dicho", which users can use to quickly answer or create a split question, such as "Michael Jordan and LeBron James who are more powerful?" ”
June 2012, three people set up locus UB Limited liability company, and agreed to divide the equity into three. That fall, they spread dicho to the campus, distributing goods and receiving interviews with local media. However, after 1 years of hard work, Dicho is still no improvement, only 1000 of the download volume.
Warstler went back to college and droll went to the University of Southern California Medical School, but he decided to develop the application with Buffington. Droll and Buffington moved to Panera Bread to start brainstorming more interesting ideas.
"We dropped a lot of ideas and eventually Yik Yak's model popped out and it was really cool and we decided to implement it," Buffington said.
Yik Yak now allows users within a 2400-meter range to send and receive public anonymous messages, just like "a local bulletin board with Wings". In fact, the idea of a good base friend's scope is only 8 meters. In that case, only users in the same classroom or in the same teaching building can send and receive information.
In the October 2013, droll and Buffington made prototypes of their products and tested their range in a football field. The two of them were standing on both sides of the football field. When one of them sends a message to another person, he yells, "Have you received the message?" "If another person receives it, they will be able to separate and test again."
Interestingly, it takes longer to name the app than to develop it. They want the app's name to be able to paint a scene where the lights are about to go out and the audience secretly talk to each other.
Eventually, Droll's mother found the Coasters band's song "Yakety Yak" in Google's search and proposed to name the application "Yik Yak."
In the weeks before Yik Yak's launch, droll and Buffington modified the Locus UB Equity Agreement. The revised version of the Agreement stipulates that each founder has 5% of the ownership of any application they develop, and three founders add up to a total of 15% of the ownership, while the remaining 85% per share is allocated to the company's partners based on how much they contribute.
November 6, 2013, Yik Yak in the App Store online. The app is quickly gaining popularity, thanks in part to a lie that the founders have told their friends. The founders claimed that Yik Yak was developed at the request of Harvard students. They want to get real feedback from family and friends. Influenced by the movie "Social Network", they assumed the goal as an Ivy League student.
In the first two weeks, half of the students at droll and Buffington's alma mater Furman University downloaded Yik Yak, which was higher than the Dicho one-year downloads.
The application of the red but for the brother of the contradictions between the foreshadowing. Before Christmas, the cooperation of Droll, Buffington and Warstler came to an end. It is said that, December 21, 2013, Buffington sent a text message to Warstler, which mentions the purchase of the latter shares.
"I've been thinking about Yik Yak for a long time, and we want to ask if you want to sell your share," Droll said. Droll and I both want to run Yik Yak by both of us. Of course, you can choose to sell all, or you can choose to keep a small part. ”
December 28, Droll reportedly also sent an e-mail to Warstler, hoping the latter to leave the company. Warstler rejected these proposals and reiterated his pleasure in making a meaningful contribution to Yik Yak.
January 5, 2014, Buffington and droll submitted written applications requesting the dissolution of the Locus UB Company and the creation of a new company specifically for Yik Yak. January 6, droll again to Warstler sent an e-mail, notify him has been out. According to the litigation documents, part of the message reads as follows:
"We think that dissolving locus is the best option," he said. Buffington and I have all the intellectual property of YikYak, locus
UB has no stake in the company. ”
In November 2014, Warstler hired Lee Tran & Liang law firm to represent his case. The firm has sued its partners, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, on behalf of Reggie Brown, and received huge amounts of compensation.
The case is still pending.
Yik Yak's Burst red
After Warstler left, the Yik Yak in 2014 was centred on expansion. Yik Yak the titles and mailing address information of each campus student organization and its student leader into a form, and every Tuesday Buffington will send out thousands of personalized emails to registered students, including a wide variety of jokes.
The carefully prepared email campaign opened the new campus market with humor, first at the Georgia State Institute of Technology and then at the University of Georgia. Since then, Yik Yak has begun a rapid expansion of the road. Now, Yik Yak has successfully captured 1600 campuses in the United States.
"Yik Yak requires instant network interaction, so we have to have at least 100 people active daily to maintain the status of applications." Therefore, it is the best way to use organizational expansion, which is the basic method used in the promotion of 30 to 50 schools in the south. ”
Yik Yak in a massive expansion, Silicon Valley was unaware that the VCs were busy throwing money at anonymous social applications whisper and secret. In January 2014, Yik Yak had its own office space and received a 20,000 dollar investment in Atlanta capital, up to 100,000 downloads. In order to strike the iron, let Yik Yak fame greater, Buffington and droll while TechCrunch reporter Jordan Crook to visit to the Great Asia to the big, he visited.
A few weeks later, Ron Rofe found Crook's article, titled "Yik Yak is an anonymous application for college campuses," which attracted Rofe's attention. Rofe immediately picked up the phone to book a ticket and became Yik Yak's first venture capitalist.
This is a long snack in Silicon Valley.
At the end of January 2014, Buffington's uncle made a phone call to Alan Masarek, a friend who worked for Google, Masarek the mobile Office software company Quickoffice and then sold it. He talked to the latter about Yik Yak and hoped he would give buffington them some advice. Thereafter, Masarek began to contact Buffington and droll.
Not long after, other Silicon Valley investors are also beginning to notice the Atlanta Yik Yak boom.
Niko Bonatsos, an executive at the General Catalyst of VC funds, often browses to the app Store. In February 2014, he noted a popular application in the social arena. Bonatsos downloaded the app and brushed the message on the top of the anonymous user po.
"I read one joke after another," he recalls, "and I found myself almost paralyzed with laughter." ”
It's enough to make the user laugh at a total stop, and that's a good reason for Bonatsos to send a message to two young founders and arrange a meeting.
"The first call was hilarious, and Buffington kept telling jokes. I was thinking that this young man was fun and cheerful, quite different from the founders I had seen in Silicon Valley before. Bonatsos recalls.
After that, Bonatsos invited Buffington to meet in San Francisco. After a brief trip to California, Yik Yak a total of 1.5 million dollars in seed investment. But the prerequisite for funding is that Yik Yak must commit to tackling the problem of high school bullying that it causes. The two founders accepted the offer and proposed a crazy plan: to shut down Yik Yak for all high school students, knowing that high school students are the primary users of Yik Yak.
March 15, 2014, droll and Buffington convened an emergency meeting to discuss effective ways to prevent high school students from using Yik Yak. Since Yik Yak does not collect user data, the problem becomes tricky. But don't forget Yik Yak can collect geographic information.
Droll and Buffington came up with a plan to use the placement information of high school students to prevent them from using Yik Yak. They wrote a script for a particular location that would prevent Yik Yak from appearing near those locations. Users who open the application in the restricted area will see the error message, warn them to select the location again, and try again. The act of creating a virtual wall is called a "geographical fence".
The first "geo-fence" was built in Chicago, the hardest hit by Yik Yak. The two founders spent the weekend blocking other problem areas, such as high schools and junior high schools across the country. Eventually, Yik Yak a "geographical fence" in 10,000 schools across the United States. In the bud, Yik Yak also established "geographical fences" in other countries.
"This may make us sacrifice a lot of room for growth, but we can ensure that our applications are used correctly," Buffington said. ”
Buffington and droll's moral stance gave Yik Yak investors confidence, as well as their support for the two boys who did not understand technology.
Colleran, who invested in general Catalyst, said: "So far, they are willing to lose the cost of users in exchange for a more secure environment, which is a visionary symbol." ”
The rapid development of the sky
Many university-targeted companies hate vacations because their users go home during the holidays.
However, in 2014 spring break, Yik Yak was pleasantly surprised, and its number of users in the weeks of March ushered in unprecedented rapid growth. The students did not give up Yik Yak, but shared it with other school people.
"When you're playing on the beach with tens of thousands of people of your age, Twitter must not be able to communicate with them like Yik Yak." ”
Before spring break, Yik Yak was only active in 30 to 50 schools. But since then, more than 250 schools can find Yik Yak figure.
In June 2014, Yik Yak ended 10 million dollars in financing. Droll and Buffington started to pay their own wages and recruited Ben Popkin, the first real employee. They also hired Tom Chernetsky as a full-time CTO. Since February, Chernetsky has served as a consultant to Yik Yak to help deal with the site crash.
One months later, the founders ' most feared thing happened. With the advent of summer vacation, millions of active users are decreasing. The use of Yik Yak began to increase in several cities on the east coast, games and other events. But overall, Yik Yak's ranking in the app Store has fallen, and it's been forgotten by Silicon Valley.
At that time, Buffington said: "The use of autumn Yik Yak is still uncertain, after all, everything is our first experience." The most important question is which schools we should focus on and what new schools to explore. ”
August, when the doubts were untied.
Although the summer vacation time, the student user's activity degree is not high, but they succeeded to the small partner Amway Yik Yak. By the fall, Yik Yak's daily average of downloads reached 10,000, returning to view and becoming the third most popular app store popularity beyond Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
This time, the main VC companies in Silicon Valley have seen the Yik Yak.
Spread like a virus.
From the end of August to the end of September, Yik Yak experienced an astonishing increase in the monthly active user to millions of people overnight. The application even breaks the Rocky Mountain's geographical barrier and appears at Stanford University. Thanks to Buffington and Yik Yak, the second campus representative Cam Mullen's marketing trip.
They set out from Oregon State and ended at Arizona, State. They rented buses with 32 college students for a 85-day cruise. Buffington has customized a Yik Yak mascot costume and has a custom Yik Yak brand with a machine yak that costs thousands of of dollars. In the parade, 7 marketers and photographers prepare rave parties, distribute branded socks and shirts, and hug students.
"If you have a group of less loyal campus users, in this event, they embraced Yak, got a pair of branded socks, took part in a party, and experienced the feeling of riding on the back of a mechanical yak, whose attributes could change." In the past, they would say, ' Yeah,i like Yik Yak! ' And now, they'll say, ' I love Yik yak! ' Buffington said.
VCs are constantly dialing Colleran's phone calls for referrals to droll and Buffington. Jim Goetz knew Yik Yak from his college daughter, the latter and his obsession with Yik Yak. Goetz is a partner of Sequoia Capital, which has invested in WhatsApp. Despite the conflict with Whisper Investment, Sequoia Capital was unable to participate in Yik Yak's seed and a-round financing, but Goetz decided to take the lead in a new round of large-scale financing. He travelled to Atlanta several times until droll and Buffington believed that Sequoia Capital's investment in Whisper would not affect its potential investment in Yik Yak.
Goetz eventually received a Yik Yakb round of 62 million dollars in financing, at this time Yik Yak valued close to 400 million dollars. Goetz Frank, Yik Yak's current size may not reach 400 million dollars, but the investment is worth it. Yik Yak has penetrated the campus completely in the way Facebook has been, has a continuous and fast-growing monthly active user, and active users have been brushing Yik Yak from time to time outside the PO content.
In the two semester, Yik Yak occupied more than 1600 universities in the United States, 50% to 80% of the students are using it, nearly 1000 articles on the Yik Yak has been published in the campus journal (this is Facebook to promote user growth PR skills).
"I was one of Facebook's first 10 employees because I liked the college atmosphere," Colleran said. And when I saw Yik Yak, I felt the same way. ”
Yik Yak now has 25 employees, many of them from companies such as Google and Dropbox. Yik Yak also has more than 350 campus ambassadors. When you ask droll or Buffington if they realize they've created a company worth 400 million dollars a year, they usually just shrug.
"Although we have covered all the American college campuses in one semester, only 50% of the students in some schools are using Yik Yak, and we need 100%," he said. "Buffington said.
A future full of controversy
The Yik Yak ban on high school students does eliminate many bullying, but not all. By using keyword and name positioning, the app has added community alert tools to mark racial discrimination, female discrimination and offensive postings.
The same bullying and terrorist threats began to appear on university campuses, with many professors calling for universities to shut down Yik Yak applications, and some universities have even banned it, and Google Play moved Yik Yak out of the rankings last October.
College students also have a variety of views on Yik Yak. Aimee Knecht, a senior student at the University of Tennessee, admits that she often uses Yik Yak, and the group that uses Yik Yak in the school is also very large, Yik the content of the Yak is sharp and humorous, frank and straightforward. Generally speaking, people like to po some things we know, but dare not say in public places.
Yik Yak has even become an alarm system in college campuses. When a student at the University of Florida opened fire on campus last fall, many people were informed by Yik Yak. However, Samantha Fulgham, a 4-year student at the University of Alabama, says most students seem to be using Yik Yak, but mainly for bullying. Fulgham had unloaded Yik Yak two times, because she felt a sense of moral guilt in reading the contents.
"Yik Yak has been saddled with a lot of infamy," said Fulgham, a 21-year-old, "a place where cyber bullying is done through very cruel things." I feel like it was meant to be a clever anonymous Twitter, but now it's a platform for rumors on campus. ”
At present, we do not know whether Yik Yak can completely wash off its bad reputation. Anonymous application Whisper has been criticized for allowing disinformation. Another anonymous application, secret, has financed 25 million of dollars before fading out of sight. Users have sued University gossip website Juicy Campus because of its permission to spread defamatory commentary.
Long and his father was invited to Yik Yak headquarters in December last year to discuss the incident at Woodward Academy, after suffering the injury caused by Yik Yak.
"Before I met droll and Buffington, I always felt that Yik Yak was an attempt by two kids who probably didn't realize that their products were wrongly used by users to slander and bully. But after this meeting, I am sure they are doing their best to prevent misuse of the application. ”
Silicon Valley This time also stood droll and Buffington this side.
"The best investments are always controversial," Bonatsos said.
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