Yo founders Moshe Hogeg and Or Arbel can smile: their app is hitting figures that would make any app developer jealous: less than 4 months after its creation (which took only 8 hours), the simplest of all messaging apps gathers more than 2 million users, 1 million of which was acquired in a 4-day period in June, even managing to raise 1.5 million dollars from anonymous VCs of Silicon Valley. Last week, FTH was able to measure the magnitude of this phenomenon during the UBI i/o End of Program Conference held in Menlo Park when Dylan Tweney, Editor-In-Chief at VentureBeat, focused his speech on this “Yo” craze.


Dylan Tweney’s speech, during UBI i/o End of Program Conference (Menlo Park )

What lies behind “Yo”?

“Yo is an instance of “one-bit communication”—a message with no content other than the fact that it exists” as Andreessen puts it. “When you get a phone call and see who is calling, you often know what it is about before even pick up”, Moshe Hogeg says. Instead of calling or texting about something the other side already expects, why not just send a Yo?

In a coherent and consistent way, the UI has a clean design, with one simple step: first, you pick a username, and then, you can send a Yo to anyone: no sign up, no email, no link to your Facebook account. The interesting thing about this is that the first version of the app failed to send a “Yo”, despite this being the only thing the app was meant to do – not that simple actually.

What for?

At this stage, you can still wonder, what’s the value for the users?

To avoid letting their app become a short-lived toy only useful to annoy your friends, the co-founders quickly felt the need to release an API and “let smart people do crazy stuff with this Yo”, as Or Arbel says. And crazy stuff didn’t take long to come up.

During the World Cup, a username was created and sent a Yo every time a goal was scored  – and for all those who were not able to watch the game but got all the “Yo’s” during the Germany-Brazil game: no, the app did not have a bug, go check the score for yourself.

In a much more serious tone this time, Israeli developers used the API to create a “Yo” username, REDALERTISRAEL that sends a “Yo” whenever a missile strike is predicted to be launched.

But no need to be in such extreme situations to use the app: you could get a “Yo” when your prescription pills are waiting for you, or from the restaurant when your table is ready. Applications are only limited by developers’ imagination.

Yo or not Yo?

Now you may have already made up your mind about Yo , but for those of you which “Yo” does not sound good enough, you may opt for one of the many competitors (7 according to the co-founders), such as “Hey”… sounds original.

Whether you are a future Yo addict or a fervent opponent, you can be sure you will hear more and more from these “one-bit messages” as they could be an asset for communications in countries where networks are crowded or where data is expensive.

As for me, I have just received my daily Yo from a colleague: it’s time to go have lunch.