Whisper, the app for sharing secrets and thoughts anonymously, just raised a $US21 million Series B round led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Lightspeed and Trinity.
As part of the round, Roeloff Bohta of Sequoia Capital will be joining the board.
The round brings Whisper’s total funding to $US25 million.
Whisper is an app that lets you share photos and text completely anonymously. A “whisper” in the app can be your deepest darkest secret or just something funny you’d like to share without anyone knowing you were the one who shared it.
In a way, Whisper is the anti-Facebook. Nothing you post is attached to your identity and you don’t have to worry about privacy settings.
Since launching in May 2012, Whisper has grown steadily. Last month, Whisper had around 2.5 billion page views.
But what’s really significant about the round and Whisper’s growth is that it signifies a major change happening in tech right now.
In light of PRISM, people are especially hesitant to share a bunch of their private data with a tech company. That’s why in the last year or so, we’ve started to see more companies, some with great traction, pop up.
Think about the fast-growing, self-destructing photo and video app Snapchat, which raised $US60 million this summer at a $US800 million pre-money valuation. Then look at the surge in Bitcoin and DuckDuckGo queries, a search engine that doesn’t track you across the Web.
“In our minds, there’s kind of a paradigm shift going on,” Whisper founder Michael Heyward tells Business Insider.
Back in the Web 1.0 days, everything was very anonymous, but it had a bit of a nefarious vibe to it. Parents would often fear weird strangers would target their kids in chatrooms.
So then there was a push toward having one single identity on the Web and managing your reputation. But as a result, people got upset about their user data and fear how it will get used and tied back to them.
“Culturally, there’s a very clear major shift going on,” Heyward says. “We’re so overstimulated with content about how great everyone else’s lives are. Even though a lot of these networks are meant to connect us, they make us feel more disconnected.”
That’s why Whisper aims to give people a place to see the world differently. But that’s not to say that people will stop using sites like Facebook and Twitter, where your identity is tied to your username.
“No one would care about sharing secrets on Whisper if they didn’t feel like there was this place that was inauthentic,” Heyward says. “It’s the yin and the yang. You can’t have one without the other.”
What really excites investors, Heyward says, is that most social apps are based around sharing things with people you already know. Whisper on the other hand, doesn’t rely on someone’s personal identity.
Whisper is also generating a treasure trove of data. Based on the millions of Whispers generated in the app, the company knows that more people talk about rape in Chicago than in anywhere else in the country. But just to be clear, people share a wide range of content on Whisper. Scrolling through app, you may come across a secret about someone crushing on their professor, or a Whisper from an active soldier about training for war.
Down the road, Whisper plans to make it easier for people to search for whispers based on text, sentiment, and location. A lot of the money, Heyward says, will be used to scale up the infrastructure and backend.
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