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Bloomberg Businessweek, Square has acquired the “five- to ten-person” engineering team of Yik Yak for $3 million. That leaves just a handful of employees at the Atlanta-based social networking startup. In December 2016, the company already fired 30 of its 50 employees.
Since late last year, Yik Yak has largely gone silent. Its Twitter account hasn’t posted since January 4, and its corporate blog has not posted since a month before that. According to Bloomberg, Square has not acquired any other companies since it bought the food delivery startup Caviar in 2014. (Square was founded as a mobile payment company in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, who also founded Twitter.)
Yik Yak did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
“Thanks for reaching out,” Kim Sampson, a spokeswoman with Square, e-mailed Ars. “We have no comment on this.”
However, neither company has issued a denial of the Bloomberg report.
reported last year, the Yik Yak app allows users to post anonymous or pseudonymous messages restricted within a certain GPS radius. While many of the messages are silly or goofy, the app often results in a cesspool of hateful speech. (In January 2015, the podcast Reply All did an entire episode about racist Yik Yak messages at Colgate University.) Yik Yak formally disabled the app on many high school campuses, while many universities tried to mitigate its prevalence.
Throughout 2015, Yik Yak came under increasing scrutiny as more and more people were using it to post violent, threatening messages that often lead to run-ins with the law. In October 2015, 72 women’s and civil rights groups asked for the Department of Education’s help in protecting students and faculty from abusive speech and threats made on university campuses via the Yik Yak app.
In 2016, Yik Yak began pushing users toward handles. At one point, the startup made them mandatory. However, as of mid-November 2016, handles became optional yet again.