What Is Fizz? New Stanford Social Platform Takes Inspiration From Young Facebook
Fizz is a novel social media network that was originally founded by two Stanford University dropouts. The buzzing platform was adopted by university students early after its original launch thanks to its impressive engagement features and anonymity. Nowadays, it seems that the platform is rising in popularity after hitting the two-year mark, not only with students from Stanford University but also beyond.
Fizz has some interesting features that set it apart from other social media networks. Firstly, their model invites users with a Stanford email address to join thus allowing them to engage anonymously within the community forums. In a similar manner to Reddit, users can upvote or downvote comments and posts contributing social credit or “karma” awarding users “fizzfluence” at the same time as remaining anonymous.
The Associate Director of Stanford University Social Media Lab, Sunny Xun Lui, stated that the attraction to Fizz is primarily since it allows open discussion and debate on most topics, including “sex to drinks to drugs to which classes to come to”. Sunny went on to state that the link between the digital platform and real-life campus activities is what makes the social network so appealing, especially seeing as there is a key focus on anonymity.
Even though Fizz was born to be used by Stanford students and this is where it has its roots, the platform is slowly expanding its reach with CEO Rakesh Mathur stating that the network is now available to more than 80 different campuses nationwide and before year-end they hope to have hit the 250 mark.
The success of the rollout and mass adoption was followed by an incredible increase in funding, with investors such as NEA and Owl Ventures injecting over 25 million in a Series B funding effort.
Nowadays, revenue has become a key point of interest for venture capitalists. And although the business model’s success has yet to prove itself there seems to be an air of optimism. Danielle Lay, a partner at NEA and member of Fizz’s board of directors said as much, stating that the platform is most definitely still a “work in progress.” Yet she goes on to note that specialized social media platforms have and will continue to exist alongside the Silicon Valley giants such as Meta, each playing their part in an important ecosystem of connectivity in the digital age.
Danielle also mentioned how the app will garner further success with the incoming of new freshmen students, allowing them the opportunity for a more streamlined integration into the campus’s culture and events.
But then the question of “will students be able to spearhead Fizz’s success on their own?” arises. One that has definitely been at the forefront of people’s minds, especially those who are opting to partner with the emerging platform. The principal of Owl Ventures, Emilly Bennet, stated that there is limited concern regarding Fizz’s trajectory and focus currently. Further saying that the platform will have time to evolve and discover innovative ways to attract Gen Z users even after graduating from university and no longer residing on campus.
During her discussion, she went on to reminisce on her own personal experiences as a product manager at Spotify, New York Times, and Meta – her key takeaway being that platforms can scale as long as their main focus is creating value and utility for users.
Bumps In The Road
But, while the platform’s rise to fame has caught the attention of many, it’s not been without bumps in the road. The app has managed to grow its user base by creating a network of on-campus ambassadors who focus on spreading the message and handing out fliers to other prospective users. Yet, the concerns are primarily focused on the fact that volunteer moderators and ambassadors have the ability to remove in-app community forum posts that they deem to be offensive, thus leading to claims of bias and favoritism.
Fizz shares similarities to Facebook’s early days. Not only did both apps see their inception on college campuses, but in a similar fashion neither walked away free of controversy. There have already been countless rounds of rebranding, privacy breaches, and concerns, especially surrounding the anonymity features of the app, among other issues.
Another platform that Fizz has been compared to is YikYak which also appeared on campuses nationwide but saw itself failing miserably after just four years due to the app being overrun by hate speech and extreme cases of cyberbullying.
One of the most concerning hurdles that Fizz has faced was in 2001 when they faced a privacy breach thanks to three Stanford University students who claimed to be concerned with the platform’s hackablity especially considering the claims of total anonymity.
Little over a year later, Co-Founder Teddy Solomon addressed these concerns stating, that the platform’s security measures have increased and evolved, something that the team will remain committed to as the app grows along with its user base.
Nevertheless, the troubles and concerns that the platform brings are outweighed by optimism. This is evident, especially considering the latest round of funding that the platform has amassed. Fizz has now earned 41 million dollars in total funding, with many VC firms asserting their eagerness and belief in the platform’s scalability and future success.
The founders, Teddy Solomon, and Ashton Cofer, recently announced some of the app’s future plans, one of which includes testing an online campus marketplace that would allow users to sell and buy items in-app.
As social media continues to evolve at such a rapid pace, Fizz’s trajectory is one that many platforms encounter, especially during the early years filled with both positives and concerns. The fact that the key feature the platform offers is open discussion, debate, and conversations, at the same time as maintaining the user’s anonymity – it’s no wonder that this has echoed with so many students as we can see similar cues reflected in bigger social networks such as Reddit and X – connectivity, discussion, and social credit scoring.
It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for Fizz, as they continue to focus their efforts on increasing their revenue model while at the same time finding a utility for their users that transcends college campuses nationwide. Understanding how they can transition graduates and maintain them as active users is the question many have, and the outcome remains to be seen.