Remember PostSecret? That was an app based on the PostSecret website, where people were encouraged to share secrets anonymously, with pictures and words. The app got discontinued due to potential abuses; the founder, Frank Warren, pulled it from the App Store when he thought it had gone too far.
Whisper, then, uses the same idea: allow people to post pictures with meme-like text over the top to anonymously share secret things they can’t get out there on regular social networking sites. What Whisper does differently, though, is to put the private messaging behind a paywall. You’ll need to pony up six bucks a month to be able to message users of the service privately.
What results is more of a social network in and of itself, with hopefully a better quality of human connection, due to the pay wall. Of course, that won’t stamp out the truly insistent, but it’s bound to keep out folks who would ordinarily spam abusive comments across a free network.
Apparently, it’s working for the users of the app, which is showing a fast growth: Whisper co-founder Michael Heyward told TechCrunch that the app has seen the number of users and posts double every month since they launched, with more than a billion page views via the app last month, and about 800,000 private messages sent daily.
This has gotten the attention of several Venture funders, like Lightspeed Venture Partners, who let the $3 million Series A funding round, and other investors like Trinity Ventures, Brian Lee (Shoedazzle), and Joe Greenstein (Flixter).
Reading other people’s private secrets and thoughts is a compelling activity, as the popularity of first PostSecret and now Whisper shows. Responding to them with messages of hope and support (we hope) can also be a fairly motivating thing, as well. Here’s hoping that Whisper finds the magic mix of encouraging free expression while keeping its users safe.
The free app is iPhone-only for now, but the team has plans to head to Android soon.