The recent rise, and in some cases subsequent fall, of anonymous messaging apps like Yik Yak, Whisper, and Secret has brought a lot of media and investor attention to the anonymous messaging space. Each of these companies is an example of 1-to-n anonymous messaging for the consumer. In other words, a user broadcasts an anonymous message to the other users of an app who are then able to interact with the original message by performing actions like up voting, commenting on, and sharing the message.
We already know from messaging apps where users are tied to their real identity that 1-to-n messaging is only one form of communication. The likes of Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Line, and WeChat also allow for 1-to-1 and n-to-n communication. I believe that these use cases also exist in the anonymous communication space.
It is with this hypothesis in mind that we recently invested in C2.me and Five.
Short for Connected2.me, C2.me is a 1-to-1 anonymous messaging app with over 3M users. Founded by Turkish entrepreneur Ozan Yerli, over 50% of C2.me’s users are currently from Turkey. These 1.5M users represent over 15% of C2.me’s target 10M population between the ages of 13 and 24 in Turkey. The company also has over 200,000 users in the US and has been primarily focused on growing this number since opening its Silicon Valley office in December 2014.
Founded by Nikita Bier, Five is an n-to-n semi-anonymous messaging app that hopes to recreate the chat room experience of the early 2000’s on mobile. The platform is actually a restricted version of n-to-n as it allows for only 5 people per chat room. This is the number that Five has discovered optimizes the quality of a conversation by ensuring that there is a sufficient quantity of communication without too much noise. The platform is also semi-anonymous in that users log in with an avatar of their face rather than in complete anonymity. This allows for more accountability than a completely anonymous setting while respecting the needs of users who don’t want to reveal their real name in the chat rooms.
In addition to our investments in the consumer chat space, I also made a personal investment in anonymous enterprise feedback platform BetterCompany. Founded by Tom Williams, BetterCompany allows workers to share anonymous feedback with their co-workers. Rather than allow for unstructured feedback which risks producing overwhelmingly critical and sometimes even harmful comments, BetterCompany uses a structured approach to ensure that workers congratulate the strengths while also highlighting the weaknesses of their co-workers.
As our investments show, we’re strong believers in both consumer and enterprise applications in the anonymous messaging space. Anonymous communication is a clear need which, with the right product features in place, can be met without sacrificing constructive exchanges.