Do you the remember an anonymous chat/social media app with a yak as the mascot? You may or may not, but those who are somewhat familiar with it may be asking what happened to it. It seemed to just drop off the face of the Earth, butit shut down in April of 2017 due to various misguided corporate decisions and a problem that the company could never solve.
Anonymity is both great and terrible for society. It provides users a way to speak freely about any subject, but that means any subject. This catch creates problems with bullying, cheating, and overall dishonesty and toxicity in a user base or group of people. The biggest problem that YikYak had was harassment. There was no clear way of combating this problem without publicizing some sort of information about the user base.
So, that is what it did. In 2015, YikYak implemented handles, getting rid of the appeal that many users had for the application. The size of its user base significantly dropped when the new feature was implemented, but that was just the start.
In February of the same year, YikYak’s lowest point was a 76% decrease in downloads. Many users spoke within the app about alternatives to the now dying yak. YikYak deleted and downvoted posts that mentioned competitors to try to make these dissenting users feel as though they were in the wrong for “jumping ship”. This was quickly exposed and had an adverse effect on the company, who lost even more of its users.
YikYak laid off 60% of its workers in December of 2016 and struggled until finally shutting down in April of 2017, earning $1 million from sellers(a miniscule amount compared to their value of $400 million which it held long ago).
Although YikYak may have died, its lead mobile developer, Richard Guy, created Hive, a Slack-like app exclusively for users with .edu email addresses. Guy claims that it allows students to “freely and easily communicate with everyone on campus”. Although it has not taken off yet, Hive has some potential to garner an audience.