After its attempts to foster anonymous chatting faltered and led to abuse, Yik Yak tried to recover by beefing up moderation, implementing language coding to spot bullying and introducing a college campus-focused, group messaging app called Hive.
But the company is now looking more like a typical Silicon Valley flameout, where a fiery rollout ends up burning investors. A key problem has been the company's inability to come up with a way of making money.
Now Sequoia Capital is shopping Yik Yak around to a number of potential acquirers, according to a report from Fortune.com. Payments company Square (SQ) is one potential buyer, according to Fortune and a second report from the Verge.
A deal could come in the form of an "acqui-hire," where Square or another buyer would hand over equity to acquire Yik Yak's employees and IP assets. In such a deal, though, the purchaser would not continue to develop Yik Yak's technology and the app would shut down, according to the Verge.
Yik Yak raised $73.5 million in three funding rounds (Sequoia contributed $62 million) in 2014, the year co-founder Douglas Warstler sued co-founders Stephen Buffington and Tyler Droll for allegedly using corporate chicanery to maneuver him out of the company.
In September 2014 Yik Yak was the third most downloaded iOS app, a peak it soon fell from.
The Warstler suit settled out of court in early 2015, and during the year Yik Yak became a well-known venue for bullying and trolling.
Its popularity declined and the company laid off 60% of its staff in December 2016, leaving it with about 20 employees. Original CTO Tom Chernetsky had already stepped down by that time.