Bruce Yang had one of those raucous Vegas bachelor parties that are best remembered selectively. Unfortunately, his social media profiles, and those of his groomsmen, made that difficult. Yang, a former LinkedIn engineer, spent the morning after cleaning up after himself on Facebook, WeChat, and WhatsApp instead of choking down the greasy breakfast to which all post-bachelor party grooms are entitled.
The experience, foggy as it was, left Yang with a clear idea: There should be a social network that supports the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” mindset, one that erases digital footprints we’d rather not leave behind.
So was born Sobrr, a social networking app that deletes everything posted to it within a day. Photos, messages, even friends and new connections all disappear after 24 hours, a spin on the ephemeral messaging service Snapchat. The idea, summed up by Sobrr’s catchphrase, is to help users experience “life in the moment.”
Since launching with 200 beta users in early July, Yang says Sobrr has taken off. It now has a user base of about 10,000. The app, which relies heavily on geo-location, generates a personal stream of photos and updates collected from the 500 users closest to you geographically. By swiping right on an update, you “cheer” it — the equivalent of a Facebook Like. Swiping left calls up the next update or photo in the stream. Users can comment on photos and connect with one another. But those connections are temporary — unless both users agree to make them permanent.
Sobrr’s 24-hour limit does two things. First, it offers users a social media safety net. That photo of you doing a keg stand? Share it! It’ll be gone before you sober up. Second, it encourages users to repeatedly check Sobrr for new content they know will soon be deleted.
Yang has big plans for Sobrr. He’s in the process of finalizing a $1 million-plus seed round for it led by IDG, and he’s expecting a big spike in usage when students return to college in the fall. While revenue isn’t a focus yet, Yang envisions bars and restaurants someday using Sobrr to offer coupons and discounts to nearby partiers — all with a 24-hour expiration, of course.
In the meantime, Yang is simply hoping to appeal to a more social media savvy party crowd, one hell bent on documenting nights that are sometimes best forgotten. “Sobrr is the morning after pill after a night of craziness,” he says. “We want to help people stay sober online, while they have all kinds of craziness offline.”