Q. and A.: Secret’s Founder on the Problems With Anonymity

Excerpt from this article:

Secret, a social messaging start-up that let people post messages anonymously until it shut down, was the talk of the technology world.

The start-up had raised more than $25 million in venture capital and was valued at $100 million in 2014, at less than a year old. For a while, Secret grew like a weed, as people swapped gossip and other tidbits on the service without revealing their identities.

Yet secrecy, it turned out, was not enough to guarantee that the company would remain a hit. The anonymity that Secret afforded let the service be used as a playground for bullies. So 16 months after Secret opened for business, the founders shut down the company and returned the bulk of the money to investors.

David Byttow, one of the founders and the former chief executive of Secret, discussed some of the lessons he learned in building the anonymous social service, how things went wrong and what he plans to do differently as he builds his next company. This interview has been edited and condensed.