In 2014, Yik Yak was one of the hottest apps on college campuses. The anonymous app worked like a location-based Twitter and let college students gossip and share opinions from behind a virtual mask.
But since then, Yik Yak has seen its fair share of troubles. Some colleges tried to ban it, alleging that its anonymity facilitates hate speech. Founders Tyler Droll and Stephen “Brooks” Buffington seem to have tried to get out in front of that problem by adding things like “handles” that make the app less anonymous (though these user names can be whatever you want: HelloItsMe962, for instance). The founders have always insisted that the app’s main purpose is building a local community.
But Yik Yak’s main problem might be simpler than that: It’s not cool anymore. Every year, since its founding, Yik Yak has seen a bump when students go to college. Yik Yak shoots up the App Store as summer turns into fall. But that bump has been steadily going down.
Here is data from App Annie that shows Yik Yak’s peak chart position each year around back-to-school time:
While in 2014, Yik Yak peaked at the No. 3 overall position in the US iOS charts, it peaked at No. 109 in 2015, and just No. 447 this year.
Here’s what Yik Yak’s downloads look like over time, from App Annie:
Business Insider spoke to a handful of college students who put those numbers into a bit of perspective: In short, college kids don’t use Yik Yak like they used to. In fact, none of them really used it or saw it have much of a pull on campus.
“I remember going on it a lot freshman year,” one junior said, before declaring it “three-quarters dead.”
“Maybe my freshman year, otherwise no,” another said.
Consensus: It used to be a big deal 1-2 years ago, but not anymore. Ah, there is nothing quite as painful as the indifference of the young.
And it’s not good news for Yik Yak. Though Yik Yak has seen some adoption outside colleges, Droll told Business Insider last month that Yik Yak was “still focused on the college market.”
Yik Yak provided this comment to Business Insider:
“We’re focused on engagement and have been with all our product changes for the past year — we’re building for local, community, and connections.”
Previous reporting by Biz Carson.