Anonymous social-sharing startup Whisper has confirmed a new round of funding and is launching an updated version of its app that will make it easier for users to connect with others sharing similar thoughts and emotions.
Whisper was one of the first in an emerging category of apps that enable users to share freely and anonymously with each other. But in earlier versions, it could be difficult to find content that would be relevant to you. You could view popular Whispers and Whispers nearby, but that was about it.
The newest version of the app is designed to change that, by highlighting Whispers that are similar in theme to those shared by each user. Each time a user creates a new post, the app shows other Whispers related to that topic, which improves the way in which users find others who share similar thoughts or emotions.
“The whole focus is about giving everybody access to all the Whispers,” CEO Michael Heyward told me by phone. It doesn’t matter what feeling or emotion you have when you post, he said, but the app should be able to help you find someone who has posted something similar.
The app has also added a new search function and now highlights categories of content, both of which will expand the ways in which users can discover Whispers.
Heyward said that about half of all active users actually contribute content, but even if they don’t, the app will now allow them to search or browse categories to find Whispers relevant to them. That functionality now appears front and center on the home page of the app, so that users can easily find content they want to read.
With search, Whisper faced two challenges, according to Heyward: First, it had to tie things together on the back end to make Whispers relevant to one another. Second, the app needed to help users determine what to search for. That’s what categories are all about.
On top of search and categories, the app has also added a new “Explore” tab that enables users to scan a map for things that people share around the world. By doing so, users can now view what others are saying in any given place, based on their locations.
With these updates, the app will provide a more personalized experience. Unlike previous versions, where nearly everyone saw the same global feed, the update is designed to make the content people see more relevant and meaningful to users.
In addition to the latest update to the app, Whisper is confirming a new round of funding. The round, which had been previously reported by Re/code, will add $36 million to the company’s coffers. With the funding, Whisper has raised a total of $60 million altogether since being founded just two years ago.
The new financing round included investment from new investors Tencent, Shasta Ventures, and Thrive Capital, as well as existing investors Lightspeed Ventures and Sequoia.