One year after founding anonymish app Secret with fellow Googler David Byttow, Chrys Bader-Wechseler is leaving the company on amicable terms. He cites that Secret isn’t about design and curation as much now since it redesigned recently, dropping the artful photo squares with overlaid text in favor of a sterile text feed that looks just like competitor Yik Yak.
Below you can see the recent Secret design on the left and Yik Yak on the right.
And here you can see how it used to look. Users could choose photos or colors with different textures as the background for their text secrets. This made Secret more visually compelling, but harder to rapidly browse, hence the redesign.
Bader-Wechseler tells me “I have a tremendous amount of respect for David and we both believe this is right for the next chapter of the product.”
In a blog post, Bader-Wechseler is quoted as saying:
“It’s become clear that the next chapter of Secret is beginning in a way that will be less about the kind of creation and design that I love, and so it’s time for me to step down, let the team do what they do best, and focus on what I do best.”
Secret will forge on without Chrys, though he’ll keep his share of the $6 million him and Bytow took off the table when they raised their last round.
The app might not be as big as competitor Yik Yak, but it has signed up 15 million users, according to Byttow. It’s future may rest in becoming the backchannel for chatter about live events. Secret recently set up special geo-fenced feeds for people at CES and Sundance Film Festival. Both were lively, full of gossip, critiques, and after-party locations.
While Secret’s new design is far from inspiring, it does make it much quicker to post and read. Rather than make people feel like they have to artfully compose a little masterpiece to lay their text on, they can just shout it out to the world. Slow is certain death on mobile, so the shift may have been the right move. Just not for Chrys.