Any other business
Is this the most ridiculous venture to ever receive $1m in funding?
2 min read
19 June 2014
Yo, a new smartphone app which simply allows users to send each other the word "Yo" has somehow attracted $1m (£590,000) in venture funding.
Like other messaging apps such as WhatsApp, users get started by creating a username and adding each other as contacts. Unlike those apps, Yo only allows you to send that one two-letter word.
Its description on the iPhone app store describes it as: “the simplest & most efficient communication tool in the world.”
It says: “Yo is a single-tap zero character communication tool. Yo is everything and anything, it all depends on you, the recipient and the time of the Yo.”
While it may on-the-face-of-it seem pointless, as of yesterday 50,000 users had signed up to the app and sent 4m “messages.” It’s unclear how many of these signups were simply for the sake of being ironic.
Creator Or Arbel told the Financial Times: “It’s not just an app that says Yo, it’s a whole new means of communication.”
For some this is just another sign of a growing tech bubble. It’s been claimed that recent IPOs by tech-orientated companies such as AO.com and King.com have massively overvalued them, whilst the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook for more than £10bn also raised eyebrows.
But Arbel’s argument is that it’s all about simplicity. Do you ever send a one word text message? “Home”, “Thanks”, “Done”, “OK”? With Yo you can send a friend an acknowledgement in a hurry with just a couple of taps on your phone, less time than it would take to send a text.
If users add the user WORLDCUP they will receive a Yo every time a goal is scored in Brazil this month. Obviously they will have to check elsewhere to find out who it was scored by, but this does raise the question of whether it could have marketing uses.
No doubt this app will divide opinions but it’s certainly an interesting chapter in the development of mobile technology.