With its early emphasis on anonymity and involvement, the emerging social network Fizz, founded by two Stanford dropouts, Insiders bet more on Fizz quickly attracted the interest of Stanford University students. The two-year-old network is now gaining popularity outside of Stanford University, but like every social media firm, it still has its share of difficulties.
Fizz runs on a unique strategy that invites anyone with Stanford email addresses to join its network to contribute and comment anonymously Insiders bet more on Fizz on the community’s content. The “karma” score of the item is thus affected by other users’ up- or downvotes, increasing certain users’ “fizz fluence” even though their identities are hidden.
Despite having local roots, Fizz is growing. The network is accessible at more than 80 campuses nationwide, according to CEO Rakesh Mathur, and by the end of the year, 250 schools are targeted for expansion.
The platform just received a $25 million Series B financial injection from prior backers Owl Ventures and NEA at a valuation that Mathur declines to disclose, which has been accompanied by a significant increase in investment. (According to one account, NEA contributed between $12 million and $15 million, with Owl contributing $10 million).
The round is significant at a time when VCs are focusing on revenue. The business concept is still “work in progress,” as Danielle Lay, a partner at NEA and an observer on Fizz’s board, admits. She does, however, highlight the effectiveness of specialized vertical networks in coexisting alongside more general social platforms, noting, for instance, that on a more general social network, few would be aware that the moniker Arrillaga, as Stanford students use it, is a reference to the university’s gym.
The 75,000-square-foot gym was given its name in honor of John Arrillaga, a billionaire real estate Insiders bet more on Fizz entrepreneur and philanthropist who received a basketball scholarship to attend Stanford.
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Lay additionally thinks Fizz’s attractiveness to incoming first-year students gives it an advantage because first-year students Insiders bet more on Fizz use the app to understand what’s happening at a school rapidly.
Emily Bennett, a principal at Owl Ventures, says she’s not worried about Fizz’s current narrow focus because she needs to know whether college students alone can power a sizable social network one day. She suggests that Fizz can always figure out how to help Gen Z once they graduate, noting that her own time as a product manager at Meta, Spotify, and the New York Times showed her that when developing consumer products, the emphasis needs to be on “creating real utility with your user base first.”
Fizz’s rise has been promising, but it has encountered difficulties. Fizz has quickly gained a following at schools on a budget, usually after employing “student ambassadors” to distribute flyers and—notably, according to Mathur—doughnuts. However, issues with privacy violations and content moderation have emerged. Volunteer moderators—often students—can delete posts they deem obscene or improper, and allegations of prejudice have surfaced.
Fizz and YikYak, a formerly well-known social network catering to college campuses, have drawn comparisons. Concerns Insiders bet more on Fizz over hate speech and threats overshadowed YikYak’s quick rise, ultimately forcing its termination in 2017, four years after it went live. Although Fizz is unique, according to Mathur, with better onboarding and stricter regulation, the difficulties associated with managing user-generated content still exist.
Fizz’s expansion persists despite its difficulties. The network’s founders, Teddy Solomon, and Ashton Cofer, recently hinted at Insiders bet more on Fizz additional plans for the network’s future, including testing out an online marketplace feature that enables students to buy and sell goods to one another. The platform has received $41.5 million in funding through various investment rounds.