French startup ten ten finds viral success and controversy in reinventing walkie-talkies | TechCrunch


Lower than one yr after its iOS launch, French startup ten ten has gone viral with a walkie-talkie app that enables teenagers to ship voice messages to their shut mates — even when their cellphone is locked. 

Whether or not you assume that’s a recipe for catastrophe or the best factor you’ve heard might rely in your age group, and teenagers clearly heard of that one lengthy earlier than we did; though walkie talkies are clearly not a brand new idea, even in app kind. Ten ten is doing the identical, however in 2024.

“We’re ephemeral by design,” ten ten co-founder and CEO, Jule Comar stated in a written interview with TechCrunch. He added that In CB codes, 1010 means “Transmission completed, standing by.” In accordance with Comar, this is only one of “multiple meanings that align with our values and the concept.” It appears to be resonating; the app is free and shortly climbing rankings.

Ten ten’s sudden rise is especially noticeable in France, the place it has been downloaded 1 million occasions. Together with on Android, the place it turned accessible a couple of weeks in the past, the app noticed 6 million downloads since its launch, in accordance with information shared by market intelligence agency Sensor Tower with TechCrunch on Friday. 

The idea might additionally obtain tweaks alongside the best way. The present UX suggests a 9-friend cap, however that’s not the case. “Ten ten is for close friends but there’s no friend limit, we’re seeing people share their PINs on social media so we’re working on a better friend management system,” Comar stated.

The PINs Comar is referring to are the IDs that customers can use to search out one another. The app additionally asks for entry to the person’s contacts (however no one will get added with out person motion.) There’s inherent virality on this mannequin, however that’s not the one development driver; TikTok “played an important role,” Comar stated.

Picture Credit: ten ten

Ten ten’s obtain numbers have undoubtedly stored on rising throughout the weekend: ten ten has been everywhere in the French media currently. Not at all times with a constructive spin; French newspaper Le Figaro, for example, referred to as it “worrying.” “I was very surprised,” Comar stated. “There’s nothing “dangerous” about ten ten!”

It’s not simply articles trying on the app in a detrimental mild; there may be additionally pretend information circulating, Comar stated. “There were some rumors going around that we were a Chinese app because of the name “ten ten” and we obtained wrongly accused of “spying” and “stealing data”…”

Ten ten will not be Chinese language, although. The corporate has been duly registered in France, since 2021, that means it’s also topic to GDPR. Its present phrases and situations are formulaic, however point out that the crew is within the means of writing higher ones. Extra importantly, the startup’s privateness coverage is adamant about two factors:

  • All of your conversations are ephemeral, we will’t take heed to your dialog as we don’t even retailer them!
  • We are going to by no means promote your information!!

In addition to that call to not promote information, it’s unclear how ten ten will earn a living. “We have a lot of cool ideas on how we could monetize at a later point,” Comar stated. There’s little doubt that their present success will purchase them time — and assist them safe enterprise capital to get to that later level.

Requested if his startup already had or was within the means of elevating funding, Comar replied affirmatively. However, he added with a smiley, “we can’t really disclose how much and [from] whom yet.”

In response to TechCrunch, French VC Hugo Amsellem indicated that though his agency Instinct isn’t one among these backers, he sees ten ten as half of a bigger development amongst French startups. 

For Amsellem, the widespread thread is that “France is king at status game plays.” People are searching for to extend their social standing, and French entrepreneurs are joyful to assist, whether or not that’s on the software program facet BeReal, Yubo or Zenly, or on the {hardware} facet with luxurious gadgets. 

It stays to be seen how lengthy ten ten can retain its cool issue, however its CEO is conscious that its present place is each privileged and fragile. Comar stated:

It’s exhilarating, it’s a sense that’s exhausting to explain however that a couple of fortunate ones have felt, it looks like every part goes so quick and so sluggish on the similar time, adrenaline combined with delight, gratitude and tasks, you’re feeling huge and small on the similar time — You possibly can solely really feel this in shopper social, as a result of it will probably hit you whenever you least count on it and there’s no ceiling. However we’ve to maintain our heads on our shoulders, it’s just the start, the toughest is but to return.

Comar and ten ten co-founder and CTO Antoine Baché have been sleeping little or no currently. A smiley-ridden e mail auto-reply warns that they’re “having issues with our servers due to a huge number of users at the same time,”  and “working on it day and night to fix it once and for all.”

Server pains apart, a generational hole is one hurdle that ten ten should navigate well. Greater than privateness, it’s usually the truth that ten ten is utilized by teenagers and in lecture rooms that’s being mentioned. “When you read these articles it feels like they’re talking about some kind of new drug going around in school!” Comar stated.  

It’s simple to see why academics have been the primary adults to note the app. Since ten ten can bypass a lock display screen to play a message out loud, it may be used for pranks and create small disruptions in lecture rooms. However having to show cellphone hygiene isn’t new, and children are savvy sufficient to determine it out, too.

In a French subreddit for academics, a dialogue befell as as to whether members had had any issues with ten ten in lecture rooms. One participant famous that there had been “no major incidents so far” regardless of the app “getting a lot of attention” at their faculty. However, that particular person added, “I ask the students to put their phones on airplane mode.” (We haven’t reached out to confirm that this particular person is a trainer, however their profile appears to substantiate it’s the case.)

As an alternative of beginning a brand new ethical panic, maybe ten ten could possibly be a chance for folks to marvel at the truth that a few of our favourite cultural artifacts are making a comeback; whether or not that’s cassettes, Dungeons & Dragons, or now, walkie talkies.

There’s just one small step from out of date to classic, and the success of ‘Stranger Things‘ likely helped. But app-based walkie talkies would get no actual traction if there was no real use case around them. Comar thinks there is, and that’s what impressed him.

“I’ve always had a group of close friends, we talk everyday on multiple mediums, but I felt like they all had some kind of friction,” he stated. “I wanted us to be able to communicate like if we were always under the same roof, like roommates: you just pop in their room when you want to say something, if their door is closed you knock, if it’s open you just talk!”

Hopefully for ten ten, mother and father will see the worth in that as nicely. Who is aware of, possibly they will use it to say out loud that dinner is prepared. That’s, if their teen accepts them as a contact.

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