Yik Yak app gains popularity with UCF students
"Someone parked in Hitt's spot at Knightro's and he pulled up with his crew. ... It's about to go down."
President John C. Hitt most likely didn't roll up to Knightro's with a posse ready to throw down — this is just one of the many gems you'll come across while scrolling through Yik Yak.
Created by 2013 Furman University graduates Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, Yik Yak is like a "local, anonymous Twitter," or "digital campus bulletin board," if you're trying to explain it to old fuddy-duddy mom and dad.
And there's plenty of "yaktivity" on UCF's own campus, with 56,877 yaks and counting coming from the university, said Ben Popkin, community manager at Yik Yak.
During his time at Furman, Droll followed a few anonymous Twitter accounts — it seems every school has the equivalent of UCFSquirrels, notGeorgeOLeary and UCFProblems — and he thought to himself, "There has to be more than five funny people on a campus of thousands."
So, in order to let college students unleash their comedy, Droll and Buffington created an app without the hassle of usernames and the time it takes to build up a fan base — an app that simply connected people based off their location.
For example, that quiet kid who sits in the back of your biology class, he might be the hilarious mind behind some of the best yaks ever written.
"It's such an open social network where you don't have to be following the right people or be friends with the right people on Facebook, you can just post something on Yik Yak and everyone will see it no matter what social circle they're in on campus," Droll said. "It's cool because it brings people together who would never have talked to each other, even if they sit next to each other in biology."
With a fuzzy, horned yak as its mascot, thought up and drawn by Buffington, Yik Yak consists of "home," "peek," "me" and "more" pages.
The "more" tab reveals the all-time greatest yaks and other top yaks — all without ever having to create an account.
While talks of SpongeBob SquarePants, jabs at Marketplace grub, spottings of sorority girls buying birth control and X-rated jokes comprise a lot of Yik Yak, sometimes the users tuck their funny bones away — along with other appendages — and use Yik Yak for the greater good.
A student from Vanderbilt, for example, was on the hunt for a blood donor match for his brother.
After scouring Facebook and Twitter for willing friends without success, he turned to Yik Yak.
"The next day 1,100 people are showing up to get their mouths swabbed," Droll said of the coming together of students, which he believes was made possible because of Yik Yak's open community.
Similarly, on the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, thousands of Hokiebirds banded together to remember and honor the tragic day.
"You post a piece of news on Yik Yak, it'll spread faster than any other social media," Droll said.
With all the success, the Yik Yak enterprise has leapt from a two-man show to a business with 16 employees and a headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia — Droll's and Buffington's hometown.
Droll never expected one of his creations to gain so much popularity, especially with the route his and Buffington's first app took. The duo created a different app similar to Instagram, but instead of posting photos, users posted poll questions.
Although that first app may not have even reached 1,000 downloads, Yik Yak is definitely making up for lost time — so much so that it inspired a drastic career change for Droll, who was previously enrolled in medical school at the University of South Carolina for fall. A week before classes started, he withdrew his seat so he could do what he loves — create apps.
Eleven and a half million dollars from investors later, he's feeling pretty good about his decision.
"I'm going to stick with making apps. [I'm] having way too much fun," he said of the prospect of returning to med school.
His mom and dad fully supported his decision — in fact, they're the ones who came up with the name Yik Yak, after a The Coaster's hit song "Yakety Yak," which debuted in 1958.
Fifty-six years later, the song your mom and dad used to cut a rug, bust a move and groove to has inspired a smartphone app that most likely resides on many millennials' cellphones.