Secret was one of the first anonymous social networking apps that rode a wave popularity a year or two ago with Yik Yak, Whisper and others. But Secret’s secret was that it couldn’t sustain its growth after an initial rush of publicity and users.
Today, the company’s CEO David Byttow announced that the company would be closing shop and try to find new jobs for its reportedly less than 10 remaining employees.
The company was, at its peak, a darling among startups, raising a total of over $35 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, S-Cubed Capital, Index Ventures, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Fuel Capital, and Ceyuan Ventures; Secret is expected to return any leftover cash to the VCs. Byttow estimated that the app had over 15 million users and Forbes put its valuation at $100 million.
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine noted that during SXSW 2014,Byttow didn’t seem concerned about the possibilities for bullying that Secret opened up. However, in his post on Medium about the app ending operations, Secret’s potential for malicious intent weighed into Byttow’s decision to close: ““I believe in honest, open communication and creative expression, and anonymity is a great device to achieve it. But it’s also the ultimate double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care,” he wrote.
Undergoing a redesign, Secret was criticized for looking like Yik Yak. The app’s growth slowed and though there was a spike in usage during spring break, the app fell off the top 1,000 app charts.