Secret-Sharing App Whisper Adds Search And Topics To Find Other Users Like You

Whisper, the secret sharing startup backed by Sequoia and others, has just pushed a new version of its app into the app store that's designed to help users search and browse through various topics. The update also adds a new "create flow" that will simplify the process of making and sharing Whispers anonymously with other members of the social network. Whisper was built around the idea of helping people to combine images and text of their secrets, and then share them with others. Sort of like a mobile version of long-running site PostSecret, Whisper allows users to express themselves freely, without having to worry about being judged or what others might think about them. Since being launched earlier this year, Whisper has grown pretty rapidly. It now has more than 3 billion page views per month, up from 1.5 billion in May. And users typically spend upwards of 30 minutes a day getting sucked into reading other people's secrets. But the latest version is designed to make it not only easier to create Whispers, but also to find those on topics that interest you. The new Whisper create flow simplifies the process, allowing you to type in whatever you want to share, and then it'll suggest a relevant photo for you that it has found. If you don't like it, you can search for others or add one from your own image library. All of that should encourage users to create more Whispers of their own. But like most apps, the vast majority of Whisper users are consuming content rather than creating it. For them, the whisper's appeal lies in the ability to read other people's secrets. Before, they were stuck with just three options: The most recent Whispers, the most popular Whispers, and those posted nearby. But now users will be able to access a lot more. "Before, [Whisper] was a big river of content coming through, but it was a lot of noise," Whisper CEO Michael Heyward told me in a phone conversation. "It was challenging to give different types of people different types of content." The updated app now has the ability to search and browse Whispers based on topics, allowing users to dig deep into the things they most care about. To do that, Whisper had to do a bunch of work on the back end to break Whispers down into the relevant topics that they talk about. There are more than 1 million different topics to choose from, and those topics are displayed at the bottom of each Whisper that you view. So if you searched for or stumbled on a Whisper about death, then you could follow that topic and see other related Whispers. "We're adding this whole other dimension to the product," Heyward said. He asked us to imagine, for instance, what YouTube would be like if it were just a stream of the newest or most trending videos. Now Whisper will no longer be operating under similar constraints. The addition of topics, and the fact that now every Whisper will have them, could also make those secrets available to outside developers as well. Heyward said that the introduction of new features could have major implications for a potential API, if Whisper wanted to make one available. Whisper, which is based in L.A., now has 30 employees. The company has raised a total of $24 million from investors that include Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, Shoedazzle founder Brian Lee, and Flixster’s Joe Greenstein.
Ryan Lawler

Ryan Lawler is a Writer at Gigabuzz, focused on covering early-stage startups, especially those with a technology focus and great perks.

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