In case you didn’t get the memo, ephemerality is hot. Today, a new generation of apps now cater to a desire for anonymous secret sharing (Whisper, Secret), off-the-record messaging (Confide, Blink, Ansa, Telegram) and impermanent media sharing (Snapchat, Wickr).
And to ensure the startups don’t dissappear as quickly as their content, venture capital investors have stepped in to provide financial backing to a number of the new apps. The chart below highlights a range of both investor-backed and bootstrapped apps operating in the anonymous or ephemeral content and messaging space. Benchmark-backed Snapchat is the most well-funded of the bunch, followed by Sequoia Capital-backed Whisper which is said to be raising additional financing at a $200M valuation. Of note, both are based in LA’s growing mobile VC ecosystem.
While some of the apps like Google Ventures-backed Confide and Secret launched just this year, we took a look at our mobile app rankings data for over 1 million apps to see how the growing crop of ephemeral apps were faring in their designated category. (Ansa has ranked in the top 1000 only a handful of times in the period so is not discussed below)
- Whisper has consistently ranked in the top 50 ‘Social Networking’ apps over the past few months. With Whisper said to be raising a notable $30M round from investors including Shasta Ventures, Tencent and Thrive Capital, it will be interesting to monitor whether any new financing infusion results in a jump in the App Store ranking.
- Secret debuted in the App Store at the end of January and quickly gained momentum in the crowded ‘Social Networking’ category reaching the top 20 in rankings before dipping at the end of February. After a new funding round, the app currently ranks 62nd in the competitive category. Secret’s success so far seems highly driven by adoption in Silicon Valley so it will be interesting to see if engagement remains high in the tech-centric community and if it can successfully break out of the early adopter SV hive to the “normals”.
- Telegram Messenger, which is a free app founded by the brothers of Russia’s largest social network VK, has made a notable jump in the ‘Social Networking’ genre and has trended in the top 50-ranked US ‘Social Networking’ apps since the end of January. The app briefly held the top ranking in the ‘Social Networking’ category after Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp but has since dropped a bit, ranking at No. 30 as of March 8.
- Of the 9 apps, only Snapchat hails from the ‘Photo & Video’ category. And it consistently dominates – trending in the top 3 apps since October.
- Off-the-record messaging app Confide launched in the App Store in January. The app started off strong but was unable to sustain its ranking falling to as low as 555. Given its apparent aim at professionals rather than everyday consumers, Confide’s App Store data will be interesting to watch within the ‘Social Networking’ category.
- Frankly has swung in the ‘Social Networking’ category ranking, falling out of the top 1000 for parts of November and January but also ranking as high the top 100 in recent weeks.
Note: This post was originally published on February 16, 2014. Financing and App Store data has been updated as of March 11, 2014.
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