SoftBank Invested $170M in Social App with Fake Users
In a stunning turn of events, social media app IRL, once hailed as the next big thing, has admitted to fabricating its user numbers, revealing that 95 percent of its claimed 20 million user base was fake. The app, which SoftBank invested over $170 million in, achieved unicorn status and a valuation of $1.17 billion in 2021. However, it now appears that the app was built on a foundation of bots and automated accounts, with no actual users engaging with the platform.
SoftBank, the Japanese investment giant, had touted IRL as an innovative event-based social network, emphasizing its ability to bring people together. Little did they know that the vast majority of the user base was nonexistent. The app positioned itself as an alternative to Facebook, catering to younger generations who viewed Mark Zuckerberg’s social network as outdated and unappealing. Originally focused on organizing real-life events, IRL quickly shifted its strategy to online events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.