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BeReal is a French startup founded in 2020 and considered part of the new generation of social media. While the app didn’t garner much attention at first, it’s now the #1 social networking app on the App Store — and with good reason.
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BeReal has been downloaded nearly 28 million times, with most of those downloads occurring over the past year. According to Apptopia, BeReal’s monthly active users have skyrocketed from 921,000 in July 2020 to 21.6 million in July 2021 to a whopping 73.5 million last August.
According to inside sources, BeReal’s most recent funding round, a Series B round that took place in May, should take its value to $630 million, quadrupling its previous valuation of $150 million. Here’s what you need to know about BeReal, which has been hailed as Gen Z’s new favorite social media app.
How does BeReal work?
BeReal promotes itself as a way to help people be themselves — in other words, be real. It says it’s a “new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their day-to-day lives.” This is a marked departure from the carefully curated feeds or silly, filter-heavy snaps found on other social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
The way BeReal works is that every day at a random time, all users of the app are notified that they have two minutes to take and share their photos. However, these photos are not your typical selfies. Instead, the app is unique in that it uses both your phone’s front and back cameras to take photos of you and your location.
If the photos didn’t come out quite right, you can retake the pictures as long as you’re within the two-minute time frame.
Once you’ve posted your photos, you can also view your friends’ photos – an unfiltered view of what they look like and where they are – and react to them with RealMojis. RealMojis are pictures you take of yourself making a face like the specific emoji you want to emulate.
Of course, you don’t have to snap your photos within the two-minute countdown; you can take them later. But in this case, you won’t be able to see your friends’ photos until you do, and your photos will be labeled “X hrs.” too late”, indicating that you did not use the app as intended.
How does BeReal make money?
“It doesn’t,” said Dr. Jeremy Britton, DFA SAFin DD and CFO of Boston Trading Co.
“Like Facebook in 2007-2009, BeReal is all about user aggregation. Once it has a massive user base, it may update the terms of service (à la Facebook) so it can sell user data to big companies and run targeted ads.”
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Why are investors excited about BeReal?
“The cringe factor at BeReal is far lower than it is with competitors like Instagram and Facebook, where people curate their best lives, or the platforms are accused of deceiving them and promoting body dysmorphia in young girls,” Britton said. “Just as Calvin Klein uses plus size models, BeReal is a step towards a more authentic and acceptable culture. For some investors, it’s not just about money, it’s also important to have a conscience and invest responsibly.”
But when it comes to money, investors can rejoice. According to The Information, at a $600 million valuation, BeReal would equate to $100 per daily active user. That’s less than the $149 that each daily active user on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger is worth, but it’s more than double what Snapchat and Pinterest users are worth, according to analysis by The Information.
But for all the excitement about how the app has resonated with millions of users and how much each of those users is potentially worth, at this point it’s a mystery how BeReal will make money. According to Gen Z research firm dcdx, ads wouldn’t really work well for the app due to their design.
The market research firm explains: “We expect an average of 1.3 to 1.5 pickups per day with an average time of around 5 minutes per day. Compared to Instagram, Snap, or YouTube, those numbers have no chance of generating the kind of ad revenue needed to build the next big social network.”
Will BeReal stay?
According to dcdx, BeReal will only make it if they can figure out how to make money. “Product monetization first depends on a product that actually works,” dcdx said.
“One of the top complaints about BeReal is that it legitimately doesn’t work. Seriously, users almost never actually upload their photos on time. So it seems quite powerful that people continue to use it in such high numbers despite this big problem,” the company added.
Dcdx went on to say that it has reviewed BeReal’s careers page and is currently focusing its hiring efforts on development, which likely means it is working hard to fix the issues and keep the app running as smoothly as possible. Only time will tell if this antithesis of the most popular social media apps will survive.
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