By Katie Couric
Can you keep a secret? With one app, you might never have to again.
David Byttow, 32, and Chrys Bader-Wechseler, 30, are the young masterminds behind Secret, a free social application that allows people to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends. The philosophy behind the app is a sort-of “public confessional,” where users share everything from the comical (“I didn’t want to do laundry yesterday, so I bought $120 of socks and underwear instead”) to the revealing (“I love my boyfriend... but I’m not sexually attracted to him at all”).
It’s the latest in a trend of anonymous sharing. Other apps like Yik Yak, Snapchat, Whisper and Confide have all capitalized on the desire for temporary, consequence-free messaging. So, what makes Secret different? “Secret starts with your friends,” David says. Upon joining, Secret users can instantly connect to address book contacts. “It’s that relevance, knowing that it could be from someone you know, that makes it so much more interesting and compelling.”
While Secret’s website affirms that “anonymity can foster positive change in the world,” I wondered what happens when users share disturbing, hateful, or threatening words. David and Chrys insist they “don’t want that type of content,” and Secret maintains a small staff of monitors who scour messages for language that crosses the line. Still, it’s hard to imagine their team having the bandwidth to really police every message.
And yet a recent international launch could mean a whole lot more Secrets in many different languages. Canada, the UK, Brazil, Argentina, and the Netherlands were some of the first countries to adopt the product. Secret had a particularly successful debut in Russia, where it became the number one social networking app the weekend of its release.
One large question remains: How will this concept make any money? The venture capitalist-backed company is considering how to monetize Secret’s success, and the co-founders have big plans for where they see the company in the next five years. “I see Secret as being in everybody’s pocket,” David says. “It’s the first thing you look at when you wake up, it’s the last thing you look at before you go to bed.”
How that spells revenue, however, remains…a secret.