With the cascade of likes, algorithms and influencers, today’s social media can feel anything but social for many users. Startup Yubo says it has an answer, an app that seeks to “reinvent online friendships” for Generation Z.
The Paris-based startup, focused on users aged 13-to-25, has nailed $12.3 million in funding for the task. The company helps its subscribers find like-minded individuals, chat one-on-one and join topical live streams using its app, which feels like a mix between Instagram Stories, Snapchat and Tinder. While its similarities to dating apps and young target demographic have sparked criticism, its focus on community-building rather than the likes and retweets favored by Instagram and Twitter appears to have drawn the attention of investors.
Iris Capital and Idinvest Partners led the funding round, with participation from existing investors Alven, Sweet Capital and Village Global.
“Yubo is a response to a fundamental need of Generation Z: socializing and creating friendships in the digital world in the exact same way as in real life,” Yubo CEO and co-founder Sacha Lazimi said in a statement.
The app boasts more than 25 million users, primarily in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Yubo plans to use the new funds to expand into more regions and improve its technology.
“Yubo is a response to a fundamental need of Generation Z: socializing and creating friendships in the digital world in the exact same way as in real life.”
Yubo, previously known as Yellow, has been criticized for similarities to popular dating apps. A key capability of the platform is a swipe feature similar to that of Tinder or Bumble, leading watchdog groups to dub the app “Tinder for Teens.”
In response Yubo introduced safety features to protect young users. Minors are separated from users 18 and older, and real-time warnings appear when a person breaks community guidelines in live streams or in chats.
In February, Yubo partnered with digital identity company Yoti to incorporate its AI-based age verification technology, which requires flagged users to verify their birth dates on a third-party platform before continuing on Yubo.
- “Immediacy, live videos, group discussions, conviviality, sharing, and safety: all the ingredients are coming together so that young people can form new friendships,” Ben Casnocha, co-founder and partner at Village Global said in the statement.
- In June, Houseparty, a similar video chat app addressing Generation Z’s “loneliness epidemic,” was acquired by Epic Games.
- As social media giants continue to come under fire from regulators and critics, smaller platforms that are prioritizing safety and quality content are gaining traction.