Yik Yak, whose offices are based in Atlanta, was forced to fire over half of its staff, leaving only 20 out of 50 employees.
Curiously, the social network startup still has job openings posted on its website. The company was valued at $400 million last year, and according to its CEO Tyler Droll, the decision came to be due to radical strategic changes to change the focus of its operative areas.
A new contender in social media
Yik Yak is presented as a location-based social network that aims to allow its users to find their “herd,” by sharing news, content, asking questions, and interacting with others that are in the same physical space. Through the app, people can connect and discover acquaintances, all with the common trait of being in the same place.
But in early 2016, the app saw some changes due to a decline in users, which has now led developers to have users create an username to post and interact with others. Apparently, this change came to be due to users freely bullying others with the safeguard of anonymity, forcing Yik Yak to be banned in the College of Idaho.
The app was designed to be based on college students, so they could interact and find each other even outside of campus. This would be especially helpful whenever the user leaves for summer or graduates, being able to find new people right after moving to a new place to live or to spend time working or partying.
“We recently made some strategic changes at Yik Yak in line with our key areas of focus for the company. Unfortunately, as part of that, we had to make the difficult decision to lay off a portion of the team. We are incredibly appreciative of their contributions toward making Yik Yak the special place for college students around the world that it is today,” stated Droll concerning the recent firings.
Yik Yak is also meant as a way of finding “the place where everyone goes to,” which poses significant leverage for competition against Facebook and Snapchat, both of which lack an intuitive feature to find and meet people in places.
Yik Yak has also implemented new features that expand its capabilities as a social media platform, such as short status updates that disappear after 24 hours to have people attend places to meet up.
People can also see other user’s interests to start a chat and perhaps arrange a meeting in the future, which in turn allows the app to compete against Tinder, as it proves a new and effective mechanic for finding people to go on dates
Brooks Buffington, co-author of Yik Yak, revealed that the app has never been about anonymity, although it appeared to be a useful mechanic. But due to the rapid growth of users, it was seen as necessary to implement some sort of regulating feature to let users be at least partially identified when meeting others or sending messages.