Do people want an app specifically for discovering events and messaging as a group? That’s the bet behind IRL, a young social network that has been quietly growing over the past year and just attracted an eye-popping amount of money to take on Facebook.
The two-year-old startup is betting that a post-pandemic world will fuel its mission to help people “do more together,” usually by meeting up in real life — you know, IRL. The idea has attracted the deep pockets of the Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank, which is the biggest investor in a new $170 million round of funding that values IRL at roughly $1 billion.
It is a much simpler interface without all the clutter that Facebook has. It seems to revolve around posting to Events and Groups (not Profile walls), with Groups just have a simplistic chronological chat stream with text, photos, polls and emojis (a bit like a modern IRC). But I get that most people will want to focus on the actual chat with their friends, so really a hundred 3rd party add-ons is not what most people are after.
So a lot will depend on what their monetisation vs privacy there finally is. We actually don't lack options for alternatives to Facebook but it's more about what ends up going really viral with traction as all the existing alternatives are actually going well in their own rights already.
See IRL is a new social network taking on Facebook groups
"We’re building Facebook groups and events for the generation that doesn’t use Facebook."