Glimpse Pivots To Privacy-Focused Group Messaging For Teens


Security-focused ephemeral messaging app Glimpse is going through some major restructuring, with one co-founder departing as the startup shifts gears from general-purpose photo and video messaging to focus on groups and teens in particular.

The biggest news is that co-founder and CTO Pax Dickinson (former CTO at my previous employer, Business Insider) is leaving the company (though he says he will “still help out”) and handing his responsibilities to CEO Elissa Shevinsky. In a statement, Dickinson writes that he’s departing due to the frustration that comes with raising money for a privacy-first app in a market where VCs can’t help but salivate at the idea of selling user data to advertisers:

Why am I leaving? It’s disappointing to me but today’s funding environment for consumer security and privacy products is very broken. Mainstream tech VCs expect reams of user activity data which is anathema to a privacy play and it seems that “security investors” are clueless about consumer products. I started Glimpse because I was inspired by Snowden to build “easy to use” privacy and security products. It’s clear that the current ecosystem doesn’t support that for early stage startups.

The private, ephemeral messaging app space was already crowded when we first covered Glimpse, and if anything Snapchat has only gained stronger footing in the interim period, despite dropping the ball on security on several occasions.

So Glimpse has decided to focus on a more specific market: teens. To help tune in on what teens actually care about, the startup has actually brought one on as an official co-founder. Menlo Park-based teen (and high school senior) Tiffany Zhong has joined Glimpse as the Chief Product Officer. She’s taking on an impressive load, making designs, building community, doing user acquisition, working on business strategy/development and marketing, and more.

Why focus on teens? Zhong says that the early iterations of the app did well among sororities and that they frequently received requests to add a group messaging function. Anecdotally, she also says that fellow students “wanted “Snapchat for groups” and that there wasn’t any good group messaging apps where you can just say anything.”

In addition to Zhong’s new role, Glimpse is also beefing up its engineering team. Former Yo Android developer Mohammad Adib has joined the team, meaning Glimpse’s app should hit the Google Play Store in the next few months.