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Anonymish Chat App Wut Raises Seed Round From Foundation, Google Ventures

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What is Wut?

Somewhere between Snapchat’s rise and the NSA spying revelations, it became en vogue not to have our daily adventures and thoughts etched in stone on a timeline or profile page.

Capitalizing on this trend were Whisper, Confide and then Secret.

Now there’s Wut, from one member of Square’s founding team, Paul McKellar.

It’s a very, very, very simple app. Just a text screen with a fluorescent background. You type in what you want to say, and then it shoots out as a push notification to all of your friends. You never reveal who you are. (But people might be able to guess because they’re your friends, after all.)

“It’s an ambient pulse of what your friends are doing and using,” said McKellar, who quietly launched the app a few weeks ago with Beamer Wilkins.

Like Secret, it riffs off Frank Warren’s PostSecret project.

But Wut’s updates are even more transient than Secret’s. They live on the lockscreen, and then they disappear. You can’t go into the app to find them.

“Wut’s messages don’t build up over time. You don’t have to go back and read 47,000 tweets. The most you can see at any time is five messages,” McKellar said.

The app’s deceptively simple design — no content in a feed and nothing to look at inside — made it difficult for Apple’s app store reviewers to understand Wut’s purpose. They kept sending it back to McKellar until he had to literally record a video of himself using two phones for it to make sense.

Uh... Wut?!


Wut, part of a wave of ephemeral and anonymish apps that have cropped up over the last year or so, has raised seed funding from Foundation Capital with participation from Google Ventures. SV Angel, Eniac Ventures, Lowercase Capital, and Dave Morin’s Slow Ventures are also investors in the company.

Wut is an almost absurdly simple app that takes over the lockscreen. It’s basically just a text screen with a fluorescent background. You type in what you want to say, and then it shoots out as a push notification to all of your friends. You never reveal who you are, but it’s probably pretty easy to guess.

The messages are also not saved. You can only see as many notifications as your phone’s screen can fit without scrolling down. The experience is more like seeing passing chatter from friends that disappears quickly, rather than diving into a never-ending feed of content.

“We believe that things shouldn’t last forever,” said co-founder Paul McKellar, who came from Square’s founding team. “It’s the way that social software is going.”

Moreover, Wut is less of an app, and more of a layer on the phone. The content is consumed on the phone’s lockscreen, instead of requiring you to directly open an app. As Wut investor and former TechCrunch writer MG Siegler says, the push notifications are the content, not merely a representation of the content.

Apple seems to be strengthening that thinking with the latest preview of iOS 8, which lets consumers interact with or favorite content directly from the lockscreen.

With the new round of funding today, McKellar and his co-founder Beamer Wilkins are adding a major update with the ability to re-post comments from friends in a feature called ‘WUT WUT.’ They just wanted the ability to share and spread goofy chatter further.

What do people use ‘WUT’ for?

I’ve left it on for a few months and mostly, it’s just silly chat. Some people use it to chat about TV shows like House of Cards. McKellar and Wilkins say younger users don’t like the feeling of being alone. They want to be tethered to their friends constantly.

Do all young users not want the feeling of being alone?!

So you don't know who's saying these things, just that it's someone you have the phone number of.


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