yik yak

A teenager wrote about how teens use social media and it’s fascinating. It’s based off his experiences and observations of peers, so perhaps the sample size is limited, but it’s well written and insightful in connecting human psyche to products. It’s worth a read, and if you’d like the TL:DR here it is…

  • Nobody really shares on Facebook, but it’s weird to not be on it
  • Everyone is on Instagram — it’s a high quality experience
  • Few understand Twitter
  • Teens like Snapchat because they can be themselves, they don’t really care about privacy or security
  • Tumblr is about anonymity
  • Yik Yak is great for schools and maybe not elsewhere
  • Women use Pinterest

One thing I do wonder about is the premise of the article — the fascination the tech punditry have about teenagers, their behavior and what products they use. Knowing what teens like is good data of course, because they tend to be early adopters and can signal what everyone else will eventually use; moreover, they’ll grow older and eventually comprise the mass market.

However, their importance in the grand scheme of things is a little exaggerated. Teen obsession doesn’t always translate into to adult obsession. Off the top of my head: Pokémon, One Direction, Cancun and existential angst.

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I was asked to be a guest on a TV show (to air yesterday I believe) to talk about social media, and thought I’d share some of the Q&A and my notes.

TOPIC 1: CLICKTIVISM

Social media has become an indispensable part of many people’s lives. The one trend that piqued our interest this year is social activism or “clicktivism”. The most recent being the #ill-ride-with-you movement. It emerged as a show of solidarity with Muslims in Australia after the deadly Sydney hostage crisis. Some people had voiced fears of repercussions as the hostage taker was an Iranian asylum seeker. How effective really are these hashtag movements?

They help create awareness if the underlying cause is viral worthy, and certainly, better than the alternative where there were no hashtags to lead to easy discovery.

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Except this time, that co-founder might actually have a case. Valley Wag is reporting that Douglas Warstler is suing Yik Yak’s two co-founders for excluding him out of Yik Yak. The basic story is that the three started a company with 1/3 ownership each that created and launched Yik Yak.

(Yik Yak is a location-based, anonymous chat app popular in schools. My start-up’s app, feecha, actually started out as something similar, so the fact that Yik Yak is more successful is a testament to the importance of execution. But that’s a story for another day.)

Two of Yik Yak’s co-founders graduated from university and moved to a different city while Warstler had a year left that he intended to complete. The two co-founders didn’t want a long distance, part-time situation and tried to buy him out. Warstler refused. And so the other two co-founders transferred Yik Yak to a new company and didn’t give Warstler any shares.

That’s what happened in a nutshell.

Typically, when these kinds of stories appear, my bias is with the remaining co-founders who actually built the business (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat). In this case however, my sympathies are with Warstler if what’s alleged is actually true.

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