Facebook acquires tbh, an anonymous compliment app for teens
Facebook Inc. has proven again and again that it’s willing to lay down some major cash to keep teens from migrating to competitors, from its $1 billion acquisition of Instagram to its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp. Now Facebook is once again looking to stay ahead of the curve with its acquisition Monday of tbh, a mobile app designed to let teens anonymously compliment each other.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to TechCrunch, the cost was less than $100 million since it will not require regulatory approval.
Tbh, which takes its name from the texting abbreviation for “to be honest,” is not the first anonymous app popular with teens, but unlike Yik Yak or Whisper, tbh uses anonymity to let teens be nice to one another. The app works by allowing users to choose the school they attend, and then it prompts them with polls about their classmates with questions like “Who is most likely to be president?” or “Best person to go on a roadtrip with.” Users are alerted every time someone picks them in a poll, and each vote earns them a gem that functions as a sort of in-app currency to unlock new questions.
Launched in August, tbh rocketed to the top of the App Store, and it has since been downloaded by more than 5 million people who have used tbh to send more than a billion messages. It appears that the app will continue to exist on its own, like Instagram and WhatsApp.
“When we met with Facebook, we realized that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions,” the tbh team said in a statement. “Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realize tbh’s vision and bring it to more people. Going forward, your experience on tbh won’t change and we’ll continue to build the features you love—now with plenty more resources.”
It is unclear how Facebook intends to profit from the new app, which currently has no monetization scheme in place. The app’s FAQ says the team currently has no plans to make money from tbh, but if and when it does, it will be “soliciting feedback from the community to make sure it complements the experience.”
Facebook could eventually introduce advertising to tbh, but a more likely scenario is that the company would sell anonymized data taken from the app, as it does with all of its platforms.
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