It’s been an eventful year for Secret, an anonymous gossip app that experienced meteoric success when it launched last winter and fell out of the App Store charts almost as quickly.
Now the app is thinking about pivoting, a person with knowledge of the plans tells Business Insider. We’re hearing it could become a startup incubator, which would allow it to test new ideas and see what sticks, a source explains. It’s unclear if Secret’s current mobile app would stay up and running or shut down if the company pivots. Regardless of whether or not it does an incubator, it definitely sounds like some changes are in the works.
Secret was co-founded by David Byttow, a former Google and Square engineer, and Chrys Bader-Wechseler. The pair launched an anonymous gossip-sharing application in January 2013 that resembled another popular mobile application, Whisper.
Silicon Valley took to Secret instantly, and news about major tech companies began to break on the application before it was announced on Twitter or traditional news outlets. Secret was able to raise an $US8.4 million series A round of financing in March 2014 then a $US25 million series B round in July. During the series B round, Byttow and Bader-Wechseler exchanged some of their stock for $US3 million each. Byttow then promptly purchased a Ferrari, a toy he’s wanted for a long time, sources say.
Shortly after the fundraise, Secret’s popularity waned. Its instant popularity seemed more driven by media articles than actual user traction. The company began working on other app ideas and in December, it pivoted the app to look a lot like Yik Yak, an anonymous, location-based microblogging application.
In January, one of Secret’s co-founders, Bader-Wechseler, left the company. One person told Business Insider he and Byttow had different visions for how to save Secret.
People who have worked with Byttow previously also say he’s not the best manager and there was a lot of drama when he departed Square — multiple sources say he announced his departure to the company with a short email that referenced a fellow Square employee he was dating and a line from Good Will Hunting, “Gotta see about a girl.”
Unfortunately, Secret’s crazy year is a somewhat typical startup story. Companies including Yo, Ello, and Turntable all experienced a lot of buzz when they launched, then quickly realised media buzz and actual traction are two very different things.
It’s not clear how much money Secret has in the bank to figure itself out, but it certainly seems to be exploring lots of options.
Byttow declined to comment on Secret’s incubator plans.
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