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College social app Fizz is growing fast – maybe too fast • CableFree TV

Things are bleak on the tech side as we close the year defined plummeting stockspersistent mass layoffs and sin per major social networks companies. However, the founding story of Teddy Solomon, a Stanford dropout Fizz So reminiscent of Facebook that he was introduced to his investor, and now CEO Rakesh Mathur, as “the next Mark Zuckerberg.” So, is now a good time to create a buzzy new social app, or is it a complete mess?

At the very least, venture capitalists seem eager to fund the future of social media. Fizz closed a $4.5 million seed round in June, and already the social media app for college students has raised its $12 million Series A. Such a rapid rise from seed to Series A is almost unheard of in a bear market, but Fizz seems to be taking it in. spirit move fast and (hopefully not) break things.

Fizz is only available to college students and users can only access the Fizz community for their college. In the app, students can post text messages, polls, and photos without providing a username or identifying information. Just like on Reddit, classmates can upvote or downvote what they see on their feed. Users can send messages to each other, choosing to reveal their identity if they so choose.

When TechCrunch covered Fizz’s seed round in October, the application was launched on 13 campuses (each campus has its own individual community). In less than two months, that number has doubled to 25 campuses. With its NEA-led Series A featuring Lightspeed, Rocketship, Owl Ventures, Smash Ventures and New Horizon, Fizz’s goal is to reach 1,000 campuses by the end of 2023.

“We’ve found that Fizz has an impact on a variety of campus cultures, from highly academic Ivy League schools to party schools, and now HBCU,” co-founder and COO Teddy Solomon told TechCrunch. “The Fizz is about providing students with a safer, more private and exciting space to talk about their shared experience of living on the same college campus, whatever that experience and culture may be.”

Fizz says it has achieved 95% penetration among iPhone users (it doesn’t have an Android app yet) on campuses like Stanford, Dartmouth, Pepperdine, and Bethune-Cookman, but downloads could be a bit inflated as Fizz uses tactics like offering free donuts in exchange for downloads, which is the standard for college-based apps. Regardless, Fizz claims that over half of its users use the app every day, which is an impressive statistic in itself.

However, Fizz’s rise was not without conflict.

As according to Stanford Daily Earlier this month, in November 2021, a major security vulnerability was discovered in Fizz’s security system. Three Stanford students found that anyone could easily query an application’s database hosted by Google Firestone to identify the author of any message on a platform where all messages are considered anonymous. They also found users’ personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses, plus the database was editable, allowing posts to be edited and giving any user moderator status.

“As soon as we became aware of the vulnerability, we reached out to a security consultant who helped us resolve this particular issue in 24 hours, which eliminated the risk to our users. We subsequently notified all of our users of the fix and posted the changes on our website,” Ashton Cofer, co-founder and COO of Fizz, told TechCrunch. Fizz reported the issues to users via blog post.

It’s the industry standard that when conscientious researchers discover such egregious vulnerabilities, they report their findings to the company so they can be patched before attackers can exploit them. But these well-meaning students Stanford Daily said that “Fizz’s attorney has threatened us with criminal, civil, and disciplinary charges if we do not agree to remain silent about vulnerabilities.” The student newspaper received a copy letter (note: Fizz was called Buzz at the time).

Lawyers from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) represented three Stanford students in response to legal threats from Fizz.

“Your legal threats to students jeopardize security research, discourage reporting of vulnerabilities, and ultimately lead to lower security levels,” EFF lawyers. answered to Fizz.

TechCrunch asked Fizz why his team decided to sue at the time. Cofer said he and Solomon followed the advice of a cybersecurity consultant.

“After the letter, we met with the hackers and resolved the issue amicably, and no further legal action was taken,” he said. “Because we were a small team at the time, we decided to follow the advice of our consultants and lawyers, and we are pleased that we were able to conclude the discussion with the researchers on good terms.”

Cofer added that the security vulnerability was also due to the fact that the team was very small at the time – it was only Cofer and Solomon, who were then full-time college students. Now, according to Kofer, Fizz has a team of 25 employees, including engineers with years of experience.

“Our security practices have evolved significantly and we remain committed to the security and privacy of our users as Fizz grows. Since this incident, we have ensured that our users’ personal information (PII) is stored in a separate, secure database that only Fizz administrators have access to. This means that neither Fizz users, nor moderators, nor launch teams will be able to see the personal data of another user, ”said Cofer. Fizz describes its security practices in more detail at Web site.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org