Jennifer Dyer and Kiaran Sim are the co-founders of Yappa.

Courtesy of Yappa

With around 40% of Americans being harassed online, a black-owned technology company wants to create a more humane way of virtual communication.

Founded in 2015 by Jennifer Dyer and Kiaran Sim, Yappa is designed to prevent users of online platforms – including social media and news websites – from hiding behind anonymous, written comments by sharing their thoughts with their voices. It’s a clubhouse-meets-Twitter concept: Yappa’s more than 400 customers, including The Hill, Vox and PerezHilton.com, can integrate the patented technology into their websites via a browser extension widget. Users interested in weighing must create Yappa accounts and agree to submit their comments in audio or video form.

“When you use your voice, you are much more careful about what you say than when you throw grenades behind the keyboard,” says Sim.

“There’s just a lot of toxicity [when] You don’t have to be on the front lines, you don’t have to own your voice, you don’t have to own your responsibilities, you can be anonymous, ”added Dyer. “We wanted to provide a tool that people can use to have civil conversations.”

While most social media platforms try to create a sense of community on their own websites, Yappa aims to help companies regain and retain their audience.

“We’re a social media platform encouraging publishers to reclaim some of their audiences that the social media giants have robbed them of,” says Sim. “We really tried to get power back into the hands of the publishers to encourage good behavior and give them the social tools they need to keep their audiences on their side. ”

To redouble that effort, Yappa today announced a Series A valued at $ 3.5 million, led by Future Media Limited. Much of the new funding will be used to expand existing functions such as direct messaging between users and introduce new functions, e.g. B. for pages on which people with similar interests can connect.

Since it was launched four years ago, Yappa has gone through several developments. In March 2019, Dyer and Sim converted a previous app into a widget that could be more seamlessly integrated into online platforms. And while their goal is still to reduce abuse online, they have discovered additional uses for their software, including on the radio.

“We have brought benefits [radio] Websites that their audiences normally never really see, ”says Sim, who is now a Yappa client of iHeart. “You’d have to call Ryan Seacrest On Air and wait 25 minutes for your 10 seconds of fame. Now you can just leave a “Yap”. Ryan Seacrest uses the app daily to integrate into the program. “

And amid the pandemic, Yappa has applied its technology to virtual events to help those like Black Entrepreneurs Day and Shaq vs. Gronk better engage attendees. The company reports a 2% breach rate for all platforms it works with.

With no direct competitors, Yappa is breaking new ground on social media, but Dyer insists the concept is based on simplicity. “We were born to talk, but we learned to write text. It just goes back to the basics. “