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Why Did Secret fail? Here is the complete analysis!

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Secret is an example of that startup company whose fate took an ugly u-turn because of their startup idea.  They aimed to create a platform for people to share their feelings honestly, but why did they fail to see the predictable negativity that might spread?

Also, don’t forget to download our Android app which contains startup case studies and business book insights, verified business concepts, and no bullshit!!

Index:

Founder Details:

Secret was founded by Chrys Bader Wechseler and David Byttow in October 2013. Before finding Secret Chrys had worked as a Product Manager at Google+, PhotoVine, and also with Youtube. David Byttow was a former lead at Square Wallet before finding Secret. The headquarters of Secret is based in San Francisco Bay Area, Western U.S.

Funding and Investor Details:

DateType of FundingAmount received
December 6, 2013Seed Round$ 1.4M
March 14, 2014Series A$8.6M
July 14, 2014Series B$ 25M

This anonymous app created a lot of hype, especially in Silicon Valley.  This helped them to get massive fundings. They were successful in raising about $ 35M in total over 3 rounds of fundings. In the third round of fundings, Secret was funded by 21 investors. Among these SV Angel and Index ventures were the most recent investors. Founders named the company secret as users can share posts, texts and messages anonymously.

Business Model:

Byttow came up with an ‘Anti-Facebook’ model, where you don’t need to represent your best self. The secret is an anonymous online platform, this means that when sharing a post your name is not visible to anyone. It was very different from other social media apps where individuals had to be bound to ‘real names’.

The app gained a lot of interest among users because people were free to share their opinions, preferences, feelings, and even secrets. Initially, it only allowed users to share their posts within a circle of friends or contact lists. Later they came up with a new updated version where you can also connect with your Facebook friends instead of just sticking to contacts only. The company wanted to be dynamic and keep users engaged so they added features like browsing topics of interest in the app.

People of Silicon Valley loved to gossip about inside stories of companies. This app was most used there and a stepping stone to their widespread fame.

Competitor Analysis:

The trend was growing towards anonymity, people were becoming addicted to anonymous sharing apps. Major competitors of Secret were:

Yik Yak:

It was launched in 2013 by Tyler Droll and Buffington. The usage of apps was most prevalent in colleges and high schools. Parents and teachers found the app mentally unsafe for students so they started banning the app from the premises. Yik Yak was shut down by 2017.

Whisper:

It was another anonymous social media application launched in 2012. In 2015 Whisper had about 10 million active users. The app faced a lot of controversies involving teenage students. This app was also shut down for considering it not safe.

Failure Analysis:

Secrets anonymous feature made it into a controversial app. The app was no longer fit to share honest thoughts after it saw cases of cyberbullying. The company saw its end just after 2 years of start due to legal challenges.

  • Flash-in-the-pan nature:

They were an example of a rapid rise and even more rapid fall, the company went down within 18 months. The secret was a rising social media platform but couldn’t see what beholds in the future for them.

  • The product was not market fit:
See also  What happened to PatientBank? Here are the reasons of its failure!

Initial interest and thrill soon turned into a negative and unpleasant nightmare with the rise of harassment and cyberbullying under the cloak of anonymity. There was continuous coverage of negativity spread through the app in the news. Critics start saying that there are reasonable chances of teen suicides as bullying and lies spread with the use of apps. It was said that anonymity had spread meanness.

secret rank
  • Legal Challenges:

In August 2014, the company faced an injunction by the Brazilian Court. The court prohibited Apple, Google, and Microsoft from distributing the app in the country. These companies were asked to remove the app on their stores making it unable to download.

  • The company had no system to moderate negativity:

After the legal challenges, the company hired a team of 90 moderators. But it was too late to take action on what was done. They didn’t have enough resources for effective moderation. It was difficult to understand the content of social groups as abusive content could easily be coded or nuanced.

The app was flawed from the start and incapable of growth. There was a huge risk on the security. If the app got hacked all the secrets would come in open. The app lost its elegance and ultimately failed.

Possible Fixes:

They aimed for creating a platform for people to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. But they failed to look at the other side of the coin. They were unable to understand the complexities of business.

Initial judgment and resources were necessary to implement safety within the app. After facing the legal challenges they came up with the feature of safeguarding the user’s privacy. The company started investigating violations and users were notified of any breach. They then implemented a screening process to prevent certain feelings, keywords, and images from being published. Also the feature of asking consent before using others’ posts or images. But it was too late to bring things under control. Their image was already rotten in the market. Moreover, their system wasn’t effective enough to stop the negativity and bullying.

The app was a disaster in the end. Instead of working to generate fame, they should have worked on making the product-market fit. If all these steps were taken before the launch or in the initial days, the company wouldn’t have to face such a tragic end. Just launching a product would not guarantee success, it needs to be inspected from every aspect. Possible flaws need to be corrected. Founders feared the safety of users if the app gets hacked. They should have taken immediate action to make the system safe. Ultimately they decided to shut down the company and learned from their mistakes.

Do Share Your Thoughts:

Do tell us all your thoughts in the comments section below, we look forward to reading all the comments in the section below.

Also, don’t forget to download our Android app which contains startup case studies and business book insights, verified business concepts, and no bullshit!!

Related Articles:

What was Secret?

Secret aimed to create a platform for people to share their feelings honestly, but why did they fail to see the predictable negativity that might spread?

Who founded Secret?

Secret was founded by Chrys Bader Wechseler and David Byttow in October 2013. Before finding Secret Chrys had worked as Product Manager at Google+, PhotoVine, and also with Youtube. David Byttow was a former lead at Square Wallet before finding Secret.

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