David Byttow, co-founder of Secret, the defunct anonymous social network that once gained notoriety for serving as the tech industry’s burn book, announced today that he will join Snap. The hire is noteworthy because before Secret shut down in 2015, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel tried to acqui-hire its team but decided the asking price was too high. Byttow told TechCrunch that he is joining Snap as its director of engineering.
Most recently, Byttow was engineering and product lead at on-demand delivery service Postmates, a position he’d held since May 2017 when it acqui-hired enterprise blogging service Bold, the last startup he launched. In a Medium post, Byttow wrote “Postmates recently announced a $300M funding round and is in a great position to continue its success in a massively lucrative market. And so, after 15 months at Postmates and 18 years on the west coast, I desired a new challenge. I joined Snapchat in NYC. I love the product, its vision, and the team behind it. I couldn’t be happier with the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Launched in 2014, Secret was among several anonymous apps, including Whisper, Yik Yak, and ASKfm, that gained traction (and concerns about anonymous cyberbullying) at around the same time. Instead of teenagers, many of Secret’s early adopters claimed to work in Silicon Valley and used the app to dish about their employers and co-workers (as TechCrunch’s Ryan Lawler put it at the time, many posts related to “the dark underbelly of the startup ecosystem”). In April 2015, however, the app shut down despite having raised $35 million, and returned money to its investors.
It emerged with the publication of “How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars,” a book about Snapchat’s beginnings written by former TechCrunch writer Billy Gallagher, that Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel had quietly tried to acqui-hire Secret’s team before the app shut down. Spiegel wanted Byttow, Secret co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler and Secret’s product engineering team to become a “special ops” team at Snapchat, but the deal fell through because Spiegel and Secret’s investors couldn’t agree on a price.