Yik Yak, the geographically based messaging app that lets users post anonymous messages to those in their immediate vicinity, has raised a $62 million round led by Sequoia Capital. The company's valuation is now in the low hundreds of millions of dollars, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The app now finds itself the center of positive investor attention after being a lightning rod for controversy. The anonymous and localized nature of the communication seen on Yik Yak quickly drew criticism that it was a ripe landscape for cyberbullying. It effectively serves as a bulletin board showing authorless postings of up to 200 characters each. While plenty use it for communicating innocuous, mundane things, it can also serve as a hotbed of gossip and slander. The app requires users to be 18 or older, or to have parental permission to use it if they are 17.
The multimillion-dollar app has also been used to threaten entire schools, including one high school in Southern California that shut down for two days upon receiving vague threats via the app. "If you go to [Mira] Costa [High School] you should watch out very closely at school today," read one Yik Yak post. Founder Tyler Droll thinks high schoolers might not be mature enough to use the app, so his team has taken to geo-fencing the app out of every high school in the country, making it unusable for those attending class.
Yik Yak is also embroiled in co-founder drama akin to that of Facebook and Snapchat. A former classmate and fraternity brother of co-founders Droll and Brooks Buffington says he is also a co-founder and sued earlier this month. Yik Yak is fighting the lawsuit, and the team remains focused on making its app relevant to people out of college, particularly those in densely populated cities.