Business News

Square is in talks to buy the Yik Yak team

Casey Newton
A photo illustration shows the Google Play Store download page for an anonymous social networking app.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Yik Yak, the once high-flying anonymous social network based on college campuses, appears to be heading toward its end. Payments company Square is in talks to acquire the company, sources tell The Verge. If a deal is reached, sources said, it's likely to be structured as a so-called "acquihire," in which Square acquires Yik Yak's employees but does not continue to develop its technology. News that the company was seeking a buyer was first reported Tuesday by Fortune.

Yik Yak did not respond to a request for comment. Square declined to comment.

Based in Atlanta, Yik Yak was founded in 2014 as a kind of mobile-era dorm newsletter. Users posted comments about campus life and other topics, and the app's anonymous nature encouraged more candid forms of sharing than users might have felt comfortable with elsewhere.

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Drawn to its rapid growth, Sequoia Capital led a $61 million investment in the company in November 2014. But in retrospect, it's clear that Yik Yak had already peaked. An effort to get users to adopt persistent usernames drove its base away, and in December the company laid off 60 percent of its team. Most recently, the company was experimenting with a group messaging app called Hive.

No deal has been struck with Square, and one source said another company has also held discussions with Yik Yak about an acquihire. But it is likely that no matter who buys it, co-founders Droll and Buffington would not join the new company. It is unclear what would happen to Yik Yak's technology, though it seems unlikely that Square would launch a social network. (Its CEO, Jack Dorsey, already has one of those.)