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Anonymous Messaging Startup Secret Is Shutting Down

Secret CEO David Byttow started alerting employees this week.

Anonymous messaging startup Secret is shutting down, according to a blog post from CEO David Byttow.

Byttow alerted employees this week that Secret, which allowed people to share anonymous posts to friends or people nearby, would be closing up shop. He has also decided to return to Secret’s investors what remains of the $35 million in venture capital he took.

“This has been the hardest decision of my life and one that saddens me deeply,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company, so I believe it’s the right decision for myself, our investors and our team.”

“Secret Inc. still has a significant amount of invested capital, but our investors funded the team and the product, and I believe the right thing to do is to return the money rather than attempt to pivot.”

Secret was a hot commodity a year ago, raising $25 million in funding last July and $35 million in total. Worth noting, given Byttow’s decision to return investor money, is that Byttow and fellow co-founder Chrys Bader each pocketed $3 million after the July round. The exact reason why is still unclear. Sometimes investors encourage founders to take payouts like this as a way to deter them from potential acquisition offers; critics of this strategy say that it can kill some of an entrepreneur’s fire once they’ve already gotten a big payday.

Regardless, user growth issues hit Secret late last year, and Bader left the company in January, just a month after it released a major redesign of the product.

After Bader left, a handful of Secret’s top engineers departed as well.

Byttow says the company will wind down over the next couple weeks.

This article originally appeared on

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