Yik Yak, the anonymous geolocated messaging platform that raised a stir earlier this year when it became a vehicle for cyberbullying among high schools, plans to announce on Monday that it has raised $10 million in a Series A round, led by DCM with participation from Azure Capital Partners, Chinese venture firm Renren Lianhe Holdings, and Tim Draper.
This brings the company’s total funding to $11.5 million — it raised $1.5 million in a seed round in April of this year, also led by DCM. The company said that it will use the capital to build new technical infrastructure, hire engineers and increase marketing efforts with the goal of reaching almost all U.S. college campuses by the end of this year. Currently, the platform supports 250 communities across the U.S. and worldwide.
“We’re seeing serious growth in our engagement rates – indicating a significant demand for localized, private interactions among mobile users of college age and above,” Yik Yak co-founder and CEO Tyler Droll said in the company’s press release. “In order to continue scaling and advancing the Yik Yak experience, we need to build a bigger team. This new funding will allow us to do that.”
The key word in that statement is “college age and above.” In spring of this year, Yik Yak caused controversy after multiple reports surfaced that showed the app was being abused by high school students at campuses. Reports of bomb threats, cyberbullying, and rape shaming led to arrests and suspensions, and the company had to turn off accessibility for the entire Chicago area after complaints from parents and schools. The company has since remedied the issue by allowing schools to geofence themselves in on the app and prevent usage on campus, and explicitly directed its efforts away from high schools.
The company’s fresh funding and focus on colleges will be a good indicator of how anonymous apps could grow over time — and whether they have lasting sustainability as a mobile trend.