An anonymous messaging app called PeeeM has made a name for itself in the Middle East, where it’s found a following among youngsters and communities that can’t flaunt their lifestyles in public. But now PeeeM is turning to the much tougher U.S. market, hoping to make its mark.
PeeeM just launched a new version of its app in the iTunes App Store and Google Play, and its raised $300,000 from angle investors to fund its expansion into the U.S. Considering the plethora of anonymous, off-grid and ephemeral communications apps that come in and out of vogue of the U.S., why does PeeeM think it has shot here? Co-founder Christophe de Courson sat down with me at Gigaom’s offices and explained that PeeeM’s appeal is in its absolute anonymity.
Like BlackBerry Messenger every PeeeM user has an ID number, which is the only identifier for anyone on its network. Customers need not register with a phone number or email address. They’re not prompted to share their address book, and apart from the PeeeM number, no other information about the user is stored on the company’s servers, de Courson said.
That anonymity is why it’s become popular in countries like Saudi Arabia where direct contact between the sexes is frowned upon and homosexuality is outlawed, de Courson said. Users can communicate, share pictures and video and even transfer files between accounts by only sharing their PeeeM numbers, he said. Though its made headway in some European and Asian countries, that success in the Middle East has led to a following of 2 million users sending 1 million monthly messages, de Courson said.
The U.S. is a much more open society – one would argue at least – so the need for such strict anonymity would seem unnecessary. But as the rise of apps from SnapChat and to Secret have shown, there’s definitely plenty of demand for this kind of communication.