The World Needs an Anonymous Social Network: Why We're Backing Secret

Facebook and Twitter have grown into multibillion-dollar companies on the basis of one universal truth: people are compelled to share. But while both of these social media behemoths serve an important purpose, they don’t necessarily serve as the best place to address a very important human need: the freedom to share our true thoughts – anonymously and without fear of judgment. That’s why we firmly believe in the role of an anonymous and honest social network, and why we’re excited to co-lead Secret’s $25 million Series B round, along with Redpoint Ventures.

Secret is a mobile platform that allows people to share their personal thoughts and beliefs with others anonymously, and comment anonymously on other people’s posts. Secret leverages your phone’s contact lists, and now also your Facebook friends list, to provide something no other social network does: anonymity within your circle of trust.

We backed Secret since its seed round and continue to believe that Secret will become a massive social phenomenon with billions of users around the world. It’s already becoming very popular not just in the US, but in China, Russia, The Netherlands, and many other countries. Secret is addictive, engaging, and unique – and its tremendous growth is a testament to the fact that it is addressing an important human need. 

There are three main reasons we believe Secret has the potential to join the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat and become one of the most significant social utilities out there:

1) The need for anonymity.  In contrast to Facebook, where people create highly-curated public personas, and Twitter, where people broadcast quick thoughts to engage and attract hundreds or thousands of often unknown followers, Secret gives people the freedom to share thoughts and beliefs that they aren’t ready to share publicly, and solicit feedback from a trusted network 100% anonymously. Ultimately the need to share and express ones self is driven by our desire not to be alone. Secret is essentially a form of online graffiti; a place where we can truly unburden ourselves of potentially controversial thoughts - to our friends, our company, and our society. No other social network provides anonymity, but rather, are founded on the opposite principal of creating a public profile.

2) The team. The most important factor in our decision to make any investment is the team and in the case of Secret, we were blown away by David Byttow and Chrys Bader’s vision for their product from the get-go.   A fundamental truth delivered in such a simple and elegant manner is not easy to pull off.  Furthermore, the entire team has demonstrated an ability to scale while experiencing explosive growth.   The service has not been compromised while adding complexity on a geographic basis, a platform basis and a functionality basis in a very short period of time.

3) The company’s lateral thinking. As a firm, we often look for start-ups that leverage an existing technology and puts them to new use. Leveraging your existing mobile contact lists and Facebook graph, Secret creates a “circle of trust” for each user.  The end product is technically impressive, beautifully designed, and simple to use.

There are a number of product updates that Secret has released that give a glimpse of the team’s vision and the product’s potential. It recently piloted Secret Dens with a handful of companies where employees can share anonymously within their organizations – providing totally honest feedback that management can use to monitor morale, create a stronger culture and improve business processes. And just today, the company introduced Secret Collections where it serves up curated Secrets in a number of different categories.

Secret fills a deep human desire – the need to share one’s deepest secrets – and does so in a trusted, elegant, scalable way. We’re thrilled to continue to support Secret and we can’t wait to see what they do next as they expand across the globe.