Scouting Ahead

45 days later

Today, Secret is 45 days old. In this short time, we’ve watched our community embrace and shape the tone of the product in inspiring, informative, heartfelt and creative ways. As the platform evolves, it becomes more clear that Secret truly shines in its ability to spark intriguing, meaningful and provocative conversations with unprecedented levels of authenticity.

Engagement. When we launched, we planned to spend the first 90 days learning, crafting and polishing the product before turning our attention to growth. We’re now halfway there and have found a direct correlation between the number of friends a user has and their engagement on Secret. Notably, 75% of people with more than 5 friends come back every day. Furthermore, 90% of users that engage in a conversation come back within the week, often several times per day. Data like this reaffirms our belief that there is opportunity to build a platform around rich and unexpected conversations.

Funding. Focusing on revenue so early on for a social network is detrimental to its natural evolution. When raising money, it’s critical to work with people you trust that will believe in you through the good times and the bad, which is more valuable than raising the most cash at the highest valuation. We’ve selected a diverse group of exceptional individuals that know this to be true, and will help steward Secret forward.

This week, we brought $8.6MM of new capital into the company from a mixture of venture capital firms and angels. We received support from Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian of Initialized Capital, MG Siegler of Google Ventures, Bing Gordon and Megan Quinn of KPCB, Chris Howard and Brad Silverberg of Fuel Capital, Vivi Nevo, SV Angel, Ashton Kutcher of A-Grade Investments, David Sacks, Bill Lee, Pete Cashmore, Joe Montana, Rob Wiesenthal, Andrew Chen, and several other secret and amazing individuals, with co-founders David Byttow and Chrys Bader as sole members of the board.

Our vision is to create a world flowing with authenticity. Being more open with each other brings us closer together, builds understanding, and ultimately makes the world a better place. Our Series A funding enables us to curate a small, passionate team of artists and builders, listen closely to the community and continue to focus on the work in order to make it happen.

Want to build this with us? Say hello at [email protected].

You should follow us on Twitter and download Secret for iPhone.

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Next Story — It’s a Curious World
Currently Reading - It’s a Curious World

It’s a Curious World

Humans are innately curious creatures. We want to know what’s happening around us and we’re eager to hear untold stories. Most of all, we want to know we’re not alone. At Secret, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to be heard, and we want to create a safe place to say what’s on your mind and learn about the people around you.

With that, we’ve made a number of improvements to Secret as you know it today. At first glance you’ll notice Secret looks quite different. When you look closer, you’ll find the things that make Secret unique are still there, along with a few significant updates:

  • A new look. The magic of Secret has always been the candid conversations. We’ve made Secret much faster to browse, post and comment. Oh, and we have a new fox.
  • Explore communities. Now you can see posts from your city, company, or school in separate spaces from your friends’ posts. Go explore.
  • More control. Sometimes you want to post to friends, other times you want to post without being labeled as a friend. Now you can choose who will see your post and how you’ll appear.
  • Chat. This long-awaited feature is finally here. Now you can chat one-on-one with people on Secret. Just tap on their avatar and chat away.

2014 was a wild year for us and we learned a lot. We’re really excited for 2015 — we’ve got some awesome stuff lined up for you. We wish you a very happy holidays from the entire team here at Secret.

You can find the new Secret in the App Store and the Play Store.

It’s a curious world. Discover yours.

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Next Story — Words matter
Currently Reading - Words matter

Image search, Questions and Safety

When we first designed Secret, we set a few key principles. Today, we’re releasing an update focused on one of them: Words are the centerpiece.

Over ten billion words have been shared and read by millions of people in our community. Along the way, we’ve learned several invaluable lessons about the great use cases of our platform as well as the realities of unwanted behavior that can hurt our community.

So, we’ve gone back to our base principles to help guide us forward. With that, we’re excited to announce a few meaningful improvements:

Image search, powered by Flickr

Images were always intended to be the backdrop and set the mood for your words. As of today, you’ll have access to billions of high quality photos from Flickr to use as the backdrop of your Secret. In exchange, you’ll no longer be able to use images from your photo library – but you can still take photos in real-time.

Search billions of Flickr images to use as a background.

Poll your friends

We’ve noticed people often using Secret to ask questions. In this new release, you’ll be able to turn any secret into a “Yes or No” question and see how your friends answer. As it spreads, you’ll also see how the world answers. This can be a powerful tool to get honest answers, quickly, from the people in your network and beyond.

Swipe right to answer and see results.

More protection

Safety has always been our priority and responsibility. Every product update we make includes safety features, and this one is our biggest.

  1. Prevention. We’ve always analyzed posts up-front to detect names. Now, our system is more sophisticated and also detects keywords, sentiment, and photos of people. If we detect a potential violation of guidelines, we offer the author an opportunity to “re-think” their decision before they post. If the author proceeds with posting, our systems and teams will review it against our guidelines.
  2. Real names. We’ve learned that the vast majority of great secrets don’t have names in them, and the few that do usually aren’t productive and can even be harmful. We’ve changed our position on the use of real names and, in addition to discouraging their use, we’re actively blocking posts containing names of private individuals whenever possible. We will invest heavily here to make sure the system improves over time.
This study shows that giving someone an opportunity to re-think before posting something negative dramatically reduces bad behavior.

These updates will be available on Android today and iOS next week. We believe these improvements will move us along in our journey to help the world safely express what we’re really thinking and feeling.

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Next Story — Building a safe, anonymous community
Currently Reading - Building a safe, anonymous community

Building a safe, anonymous community

When we created Secret six months ago, we first gave it to our friends and family. We watched how they shared every day and believed Secret could be something special. The posts and conversations were unlike anything we’d seen on any other social network: raw, honest and human.

At the same time, we knew that safety had to be a top priority. The two of us had built social networks before (e.g. Google Wave, Google+, Photovine) and understood the importance of privacy, community tools and moderation; especially in an anonymous community. We knew we had to be proactively involved in order to keep Secret safe.

We wanted to learn from the lessons of the past, and given the responsibility that comes with building an anonymous platform, we sought out, consulted with, hired and learned from people that have built mainstream online anonymous communities, some of which are thriving. These people included the founders of 7 Cups of Tea, Formspring, JuicyCampus, Reddit, LikeALittle, Whisper and many others. We’ve also met with academic researchers like Sarah Cowen and Clay Shirky, just to name a couple. The lessons learned have been invaluable.

At Secret, we believe that:

  • People are inherently good
  • Anonymity is a privilege
  • We must protect our community by actively enforcing our policies
  • Beauty begets beauty; a productive and well-lit space encourages great conversations
  • In an anonymous community, responsibility is critical, both for the platform and its users

We also believe in the importance of honesty and transparency, so we want to share with you what we’ve learned about building a safe community and how we are applying that knowledge to Secret.

Content policy

The first step in protecting a community is defining clear policies. These policies should begin with and reflect the beliefs and values of its founders. We’ve hired and collaborated with experts from Facebook and Google to define clear, nuanced, and enforceable internal policies around what content we will and won’t allow. This is much harder than we anticipated, and it took a significant amount of time to get it to a point we were comfortable with.

We don’t allow posts that include:

  • Pornography
  • Bullying
  • Threats
  • Hate speech
  • Encouragement of self-harm
  • Graphic content
  • Private information (email, phone #s, etc)
  • Copyrighted content
  • Spam

To learn more about our policies, read our Community Guidelines.

Empower the community

The second step is to help the community protect and shape itself.

We make our community guidelines publicly available and encourage every user, new and existing, to read them and send feedback. This helps members of the community know how they should behave and also helps them recognize and report bad behavior.

We make it easy for community members to flag a post when it violates Secret’s guidelines. When a user flags a post, they can choose the reason (bullying, self harm, etc). This helps prioritize the secrets that our moderation team reviews so we can react as quickly as possible to more serious violations.

We also believe in adding small details to help set the tone of the product such as changing the comment placeholder text to “Say something kind” and showing a dialog reminding users of the community guidelines when they make a post with a proper name in it.

Enforcing the policies

Setting policies is an important step, but effectively and consistently enforcing them is even more important. Before we launched Secret, we had already begun building a comprehensive admin tool that allows a team of moderators to do things such as review all secrets suspected of being against our policies.

Secrets are reviewed by moderators when they are flagged by a user or automatically flagged by our system. We automatically flag secrets based on a mix of criteria, including keywords and patterns. In some cases, we ban users who repeatedly violate our guidelines. We improve every day, and while we aren’t perfect, we will continue investing in this area because the smarter the system, the faster we can react.

When a flagged post is taken down, we often notify the people who flagged it with a notification stating “A post you flagged was removed. Thanks for keeping Secret safe!” It’s important that users know the system is working, and that their participation is impactful to the community.

Going forward

We care deeply about the safety of our users. We have been and will continue to be fully committed to doing everything we can to keep Secret a safe place. This includes making our moderation platform better and faster, growing our trust-and-safety team, communicating policy improvements and involving the community as much as possible. We aim to publish transparent reports with a regular cadence.

We have a lot of work to do. We are listening to and steadily growing our community, engineering, operations and trust-and-safety teams. If you’re interested in helping, or have your own stories and lessons to share, please reach out to us.

David Byttow and Chrys Bader, founders of Secret

Go to the profile of SecretSecret
Next Story — Onward
Currently Reading - Onward


The next six months

Six months into growing and evolving Secret, our community has shown us how much demand there is for a social network centered around honest conversations. Whether it’s reporters in Moscow using Secret to interview Linkin Park, friends giving each other advice about their salaries or people lamenting about their (mostly) hilarious dating lives, these conversations share one thing in common: they are hard to imagine seeing anywhere else.

The compelling conversations we see everyday inspire us to expand Secret — to more social contexts (e.g., Dens pilot) and of course — to more people. As of today, this expansion is visible in two new ways: Secret Collections on the web, and the introduction of Facebook Login on Android and iOS throughout this week (yes it’s anonymous, we don’t even store your public name).

Collections gives you a daily digest into the very best of Secret — the conversations about work, love, loss and even food that have traveled far and wide through Secret give you a sense of what people are really feeling. Secret users can subscribe to any Collection and automatically receive new secrets from that collection in their Explore stream. This is a first step in giving users more control over their experience on Secret and we’re excited to hear your feedback. Check them out here.

Facebook Login has been our top requested feature, for good reason. Our community members want more friend content in their stream, beyond simply the contacts from their phone. Facebook Login gives any user the option to (completely anonymously) connect Secret to Facebook and populate your stream with Facebook friends.

Collections and Facebook Login are just the beginning of the work we have yet to do. While the first six months were about us learning and perfecting the Secret experience, the rest of our first year will be focused on bringing Secret to more people, in more interesting ways.

To support this next chapter, we are thrilled to bring in new funding that will allow us to continue to build the most open, connected and honest social network in the world. Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian, SV Angel, Fuel Capital, Ceyuan Ventures, and several others that shall remain a secret have all contributed to our Series-B financing round of $25MM. We’re also thrilled to have Index’s Danny Rimer be the first addition to our Board of Directors.

The Secret Team

You should follow us on Twitter at http:[email protected]

Go to the profile of SecretSecret

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