Social messaging app IRL shuts down after 95% of its users found to be fake

SoftBank-backed social messaging app called IRL has announced to shut operations, after it found that a massive 95 per cent of its users were “automated or from bots”.

The platform, which suspended its founder and CEO, Abraham Shafi, for alleged misconduct two month ago, had raised $200 million from Japanese investment giant SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Founders Fund and others, reports The Information.

Last year, Shafi claimed that the app had 20 million monthly active users, “who chatted about shared interests and planned real-world events together”.

Now, a spokesperson for the startup said an investigation. By the board of directors concluded 95 per cent of those users were fake.

The company would shut down and return capital to shareholders. IRL had reached a $1.2 billion valuation in a $170 million Series C funding round. Led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 two years ago.

The company described itself as “the leading group messaging social network that brings people together through events and shared experiences”.

“Our primary goal at IRL has always been to create more authentic and organic communities,” Shafi had said.

As part of this fundraiser, IRL also set up a creators’ fund that would pay people. To organise events in major cities using its app.

According to Shafi, the goal was to become “a super messaging social network” over time.

“We have the opportunity to build WeChat for the rest of the world,” he had said.

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