Ironically, social apps IRLof users do not exist in real life.
An internal survey by the IRL board found that 95% of the app’s 20 million reported users were “automatic or from bots,” The Information First report. So, after raising over $200 million in venture capital, IRL is closing.
IRL promises to be an event organizing alternative for Gen Zers as they use Facebook less and less. But after closing a $170 million Series C funding round led by SoftBank at a $1.17 billion valuation, the company’s internal problems became more apparent.
Last year, IRL laid off 25 percent of its team, or about 25 employees. The layoffs come as a surprise after IRL more than tripled its headcount in the last year. In a note to employees obtained by TechCrunch, former CEO and founder Abraham Shafi encouraged employees to “adapt” and “discipline,” noting that WhatsApp was a big success on a team of just 55 employees. already has 450 million users.
“Becoming one of these iconic, influential companies is like winning gold at the Olympics. In fact, it may be more challenging,” Shafie wrote in the memo, which is full of such outlandish analogies. “Just like the Olympics, we know that most people don’t want to be Olympians. Likewise, not everyone wants to go the way we’re going. But for those who want to push their limits and discover what they’re capable of, the culture suits you.”
In the same memo, Shafie said the company “has sufficient cash to last until 2024”. An IRL employee told TechCrunch at the time that the company had more than $100 million in the bank. While it’s unclear how much money IRL has left now, a company spokesperson told The Information that it will return the capital to shareholders.
Around the same time as the layoffs, IRL staff began Suspect Shafi claims the app has 20 million monthly active users; then SEC begins investigation Does the IRL violate the securities laws. By April, the IRL board had suspended Shafi and appointed an acting chief executive.
TechCrunch tried to reach Shafi as well as another IRL employee. Both of their IRL email addresses have been disabled.