Two-character messaging app Yo breaks past one million users

Yo 1.0.5 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)Yo 1.0.5 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

Yo, that stupendously simple viral messaging app which lets people exchange ultra-short two-character “Yo” messages, now has over a million users.

The free of charge app, born out of an April Fool’s Day joke and released just four days ago as a single-tap zero character communication tool for the iPhone, immediately got featured on the App Store’s Top Free charts and is currently sitting at the ninth place…

Yo broke the news on Twitter eighteen hours ago, confirming it broke past the one million user barrier.

“We welcome our 1,000,007 user! After 4 days, we are humble and thankful for your love,” reads the tweet.

The chart below is provided by the app tracking and analytics service App Annie. It indicates that the controversial app – which some have dismissed as a fad – could indeed be seeing a short-lived success.

Yo popularity (App Annie 001)
Yo’s growth rate on iOS in the United States and overall.

Case in point: just three days ago Yo was #5 on the App Store’s Top Free list. At the time of this writing, it slid to the ninth place.

The app even got hacked earlier this week, but its co-creator Moshe Hogeg wrote on Medium that the security vulnerability which allowed spammers to send unsolicited Yos has now been fixed.

“We were lucky enough to get hacked at an early stage and the issue has been fixed,” he wrote on Medium.

Hogeg told The Wall Street Journal that he called a hacker who blasted him by countless Yos.

“Thursday night I’ve received a text message from an unknown number, asking “Is this the founder of Yo?”I responded Yes and immediately got blasted by Yos, followed by an alert that popped in my app saying YoBeenHacked.”

After helping Hogeg fix the backed, the hacker was then offered a gig and is now working with the team on improving Yo’s user experience and “other aspects as well.” The company has even developed an API and a Yo button for bloggers to put on their websites to help engage readers.

Yo hack 002

Here are six cringeworthy facts from Hogeg’s interview with Business Insider, via Venture Beat.

  • In his regular job, Hogeg is the chief executive of Tel Aviv-based video- and photo-sharing company Mobli. Yo started as a side project. But first he had to convince Moble employee Or Arbel to make the thing. “I went to him and I said, ‘Develop this stupid app for me,’” Hogeg nudged. It took several weeks to convince Arbel, but once he did, Arbel made the app in about eight hours.
  • At first, Hogeg was too embarrassed to publish it under his own name. “At Mobli, we make serious technology,” he says. “I didn’t let him publish it under our names.”
  • Hogeg showed the app to Rackspace blogger Robert Scoble. “This is the stupidest, most addictive app I’ve ever seen in my life,” Scoble said.
  • “We asked ourselves, ‘If we didn’t know what Yo was or what it did, and if we just examined the data and the usage numbers like it was any other startup, would we invest in it?‘” says Hogeg. “The answer was, ‘Hell yes.’”
  • Hogeg could have raised more than $2.5 million, he said, but he preferred to keep the round to a more manageable $1.2 million (including $200,000 of Hogeg’s own money). The money’s not in the bank yet, though. “The amount of money that wants to go into this company is unbelievable,” says Hogeg.
  • The whole thing seems crazy to Hogeg, too. “Sometimes you see a movie and you say, ‘This sh– is so crazy, it can’t really happen,’” says Hogeg. “But sometimes reality is so crazy, it suppresses every movie.“

The two men have recently secured a cool $1.2 million in VC funding. If you haven’t given Yo a whirl yet, grab it now and feel free to send me a “Yo” message.

Download Yo free of charge in the App Store.

It supports the iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later.