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Yik Yak, the once popular and controversial college messaging app, shuts down

LOS ANGELES — Yik Yak, the once-popular and ultra controversial app favored by college and high school students, prepared to shut down Friday, a victim of management miscues, fickle users and school bans.

"We’ll begin winding down the Yik Yak app over the coming week as we start tinkering around with what’s ahead for our brand, our technology, and ourselves," co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington wrote in a blog post.

The Yik Yak app was founded in Atlanta in late 2013, at the Atlanta Tech Village, a local co-working space, after Buffington and Droll graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The Atlanta-based company had been for sale, but apparently had few takers. It was able to move some of its engineers to Square, the online-payments app, for what Bloomberg says was $3 million.

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"Local communities have always been central to how we think about Yik Yak, so for us, Square — which has become a valuable partner for local businesses — feels like a great fit," the founders said in the blog post.

Yik Yak started as a way to connect students on campus and quickly rode its way to one of the top 10 most-downloaded app charts, grew to $400 million in market value.

But the feature of being anonymous, an initial selling point, created issues — namely complaints about bullying, harassment and threats. Yik Yak was banned at several schools, while others were forced to shut down for days because of anonymous threats made against students on Yik Yak.

By 2016, Yik Yak had dropped out of the top-1,000 apps downloaded in the App Store. The company tried several steps to get studentsback in love with Yik Yak, but they failed. By the end of 2016, big job cuts were announced.

"Building Yik Yak — both the app you used and the company that powered it — was the greatest, hardest, most enjoyable, most stressful, and ultimately most rewarding experience we’ve ever had," the founders said.

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