Yik Yak social media app shutting down

Location-based social media service Yik Yak says it will soon shut down, after a number of the small company's software engineers left to join another company.

Company was valued at about $400M at its peak, but user growth has slowed recently

The Yik Yak app, shown in the bottom left of this smartphone, will soon wind up operations, the company said in a recent blog post. (Ronald Lizik/Associated Press)

Location-based social media service Yik Yak announced on Friday that it will soon shut down, after a number of the small company's software engineers left to join another company.

The app, which allows any users within a five-mile (eight-kilometre) radius of each other to trade messages and interact, was based in Atlanta but has a presence across the U.S. and Canada, primarily on school and college campuses.

The free app allows anyone in the radius to post public, anonymous messages without needing a profile of their own. Other users can "upvote" or "downvote" messages they like or don't like.

While the service grew quickly after its 2013 launch, it quickly raised the ire of critics as its location-based functionality made it an ideal tool for cyberbullying, pranks and other threats.

At its peak, the company was valued at roughly $400 million US but user growth slowed precipitously after the company took steps last summer to do away with some of its endemic anonymity by requiring users to have a profile set up and even giving the option of including a photo.

Then Bloomberg reported last week that Square Inc., the mobile payment processing firm founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, paid $3 million for the rights to hire about a half-dozen of Yik Yak's software engineers.

That move appears to have brought about the end of the company.

In a blog post, Yik Yak founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington announced that the company would begin winding down its operations in the coming days.

"With the school year drawing to a close for many of you and summer vacation on the horizon, now feels like a good time for us to say 'so long for summer' to y'all, too," they said.

"To that end, we'll begin winding down the Yik Yak app over the coming week as we start tinkering around with what's ahead for our brand, our technology, and ourselves."