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RIP Yik Yak, the once-famous app for college students

So long, Yik Yak. Pic: Shutterstock.

Founders of what was once one of the fastest rising social media apps for college students in the last few years are calling it quits, according to the company last week.

In a blog post titled “Thank You, Yakkers” on Yik Yak’s official website last Friday, co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington wrote that while they loved the app being part of the college experience for the past four years, they have decided to make their “next moves as a company”.

“We’ll begin winding down the Yik Yak app over the coming week as we start tinkering around with what’s ahead for our brand, our technology, and ourselves,” Droll and Brooks, both graduates of Furman University, wrote in the blog post.

Yik Yak rose to fame in 2014 as a smartphone app that allows users (known as ‘Yakkers’) to create and view discussion threads within a 5-mile radius (termed as ‘Yaks’ in the app).

Despite being used almost exclusively by American college students only, the app managed to become one of the top 10 social media apps on the iTunes App Store shortly after its debut. The Atlanta-based company was round valued around USD400 million then.

Its accolades grew to include match-making a University of North Florida couple (who is now married to each other), praise for suicide prevention as well as helping a Rutgers University student to find her deaf cat that went missing.

But the app started sparking controversy when some users abused its anonymity feature to make potentially harmful comments, which led to widespread bullying and harassment being committed.

Schools and colleges, like Vermont College, responded by banning the social media app to protect its students.

Controversies aside, the app’s fame had started running out when when they added new features to it that forced its users to create a username that did not bode well with Yakkers who liked the app mainly for allowing them to stay anonymous.

By last year, Yik Yak was no longer in the top 1,000 apps downloaded in the App store and efforts to attract students back to their app did not work.

Last week, it sold off some of its engineers and some minor intellectual property to Square Inc., a San Francisco-based financial services company for around USD1 million, as reported by The Verge.

As for the app, Droll and Brooks said they will be “tinkering around” the brand, technology as well as themselves.

Commenting on their “greatest, hardest, most enjoyable, most stressful, and ultimately most rewarding” journey thus far and its impact on colleges and its students, the co-founders wrote: “We’re grateful to the users who made Yik Yak a place for laughs, camaraderie, stress relief, social comfort, news, memes, class recommendations, campus spirit, and so much more.”

“We’ve loved being part of your college experience over the past four school years.”

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