The Internet’s power to connect people is unparalleled.
- Get married, find a new job, have a baby…share the special moment with friends and family on Facebook
- Searching for new employees or potential customers…connect on LinkedIn.
- Have a message for the masses…broadcast it on Twitter.
- Missing your relatives across the globe…call them on Skype or Facetime.
- Selling furniture, tickets, or just about anything else…find a buyer on Craigslist or eBay.
- Move into a new neighborhood…meet your new neighbors on Nextdoor.
Humans have an inherent need for connection, and thankfully the internet enables human connections at an unprecedented scale.
However, we’re missing an important network. Where does one go to share his or her insecurities, fears, and doubts? Where does the husband go if he’s lost his job and doesn’t know how to tell his wife? Where does the war veteran go when struggling with PTSD? Where does the teenager go when he or she is questioning his or her sexual orientation? Even more trivial concerns that in the long-run may seem small need an outlet. For example, where does the teenage girl go when she doesn’t get asked to the prom? Despite there being many others having experienced similar feelings and emotions, these moments of despair make one feel as if they are totally alone; as if they are the only person to ever to face such a challenge.
Two years ago Michael Heyward and Brad Brooks saw this gaping need and created Whisper. They made it an anonymous network so people would feel comfortable sharing thoughts, emotions, fears, and doubts that they were not open to sharing from their public identities on Facebook. They added private messaging so that members could connect directly, providing a sounding board and an empathetic ear to those in need.
They set up the non-profit YourVoice dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues on college campuses. They included a suicide hotline for any member expressing suicidal thoughts.
They implemented policies and strong community standards from the very beginning to ensure that Whisper would never become a place for trolling and bullying, a common issue with other anonymous networks. Create a negative comment about any individual and that whisper will never see the light of day. Furthermore, they surrounded you with strangers, ensuring there is little incentive to gossip or troll common connections.
In doing all of this, they built one of the most engaging networks that we’ve ever seen.
This week we announced Shasta’s recent investment into the company and we couldn’t be more excited. We led the company’s $36M series C round, along with new investors Tencent and Thrive Capital, as well as existing investors Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
We see a future where every human with a smartphone is a tap away from connecting with others around the world based on shared emotions and experiences. Those connections are profound, and we believe immensely valuable. Michael, Brad, and team have made tremendous strides in achieving this vision already, and we’re thrilled to join them on this mission.