The CEO of viral app Yo, which has gained over 1 million users in four days, has denied that the app is a gimmick and outlined plans for its future.
Or Arbel, co-founder and chief executive of Yo, which allows users to simply send the word “yo” to others and nothing else, told CNBC that users of the app would soon get notifications from “whatever interests you”.
But he added that additional features – like links and photos – would not become part of Yo.
“The different thing about Yo is it’s just ‘yo’ and nothing else,” he said. “Some people understand it, some people don’t. It’s new, we get it.”
The app – which was built in just eight hours and has already raised $1 million in seed funding – has proved divisive in the tech community, with some disregarding it as a gimmick.
But Jack Kent, mobile media analyst at IHS Technology, said, “gimmick or not, it’s clearly popular.”
“In the mobile apps business, particularly among social apps, the strategy is always to acquire users first, monetize second,” he told CNBC. “The social nature of Yo makes user acquisition the easy part, monetization will be much more difficult.”
Yo’s soaring user base has made headlines over the past few days, and top technology blogger Robert Scoble is reported to have called it: “the stupidest but most addicting app ever.”
Morgan Stanley Economist Joachim Fels, meanwhile, wrote in a note: “The more I think about it, the more I like the Yo concept … I’ve always thought that there is beauty in simplicity. I’m a minimalist.”
There are concerns, however, that the ability of apps like Yo to raise significant funds indicates the beginnings of a second dotcom bubble.
But Kent stressed that there were some key differences between now and 2000, when the first tech bubble burst in a spectacular fashion.
“Mobile is a much more integral part of people’s day-to-day lives than the internet was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it is also more global,” he said.
“We may be seeing some high valuations, and it can be difficult for all but those at the very top of the app store charts to make money directly form apps, but there is no indication that mobile is going away or will become less important.”
Security flaws ‘fixed’
Yo came in for criticism recently after it was revealed that it could be easily hacked. The app revealed some users’ phone numbers to anyone who requested them.
But Arbel told CNBC he took the security flaws seriously. He admitted that the phone numbers of those who had used the find-a-friend function had been exposed, but stressed: “We don’t store much (other) personal information (about) you.”
He added the issue had been fixed and “everything is fine.”