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The Most Successful Apps of 2019

Facebook is in hot water again, this time forced to frantically announce measures to remove videos manipulated by artificial intelligence technology, or deep fakes, from the social media platform. According to some pundits, the new measures may not even work as they are supposedly intended.

Once viewed at the industry standard, the network has repeatedly failed to adequately deal with issues of data privacy and the rising tide of fake news in recent years, darkening Facebook’s image in a way that the technology giant may never recover from. The idea that Facebook is a neutral social platform died long ago, causing Facebook user activity levels are in decline and raising fears that the site will soon face a crisis of existential proportions.

Facebook’s new “bad guy” reputation is just one of many reasons why the term “social network”, long associated exclusively with Facebook and Twitter, is being increasingly used to describe new platforms. But now, the rise of Gen Z and the ever-influential Millennials is shifting the balance of social media power in favour of new social networking startups. Here are four such apps that took the internet by storm in 2019, and look set to widen their reign in 2020.

1. Wizbii

Founded in 2010, Wizbii was one of the earliest professional platforms designed specifically to connect young people, aimed at boosting youth employment and entrepreneurship worldwide. Wizbii offers free services and events to facilitate quality job-hunting, including online courses, help in finding student grants, and foreign language certification.

The idea has clearly caught on and the app has received €17.1 million in funding in 2019. That same year, Wizbii launched Wizbii Protect, a digital insurance offering designed with student health and accommodation in mind. The project allows young people to access water damage, fire, theft, vandalism and civil liability protection from the platform. There are no lock-in contracts, and users can customise their protection to their needs.

2. Anchor

Starting out as a platform for short-form, social audio creations, Anchor has evolved to become a one-stop-shop for those looking to record, edit, host, publish and distribute a podcast of any length, also thank to generous €16.7 million VC-investments.

By removing many of the obstacles that new podcasters face, including hosting fees, special editing software, and analytics comprehension, Anchor is making it easier than ever for users to enter the ever-expanding world of podcasting.

“It seemed crazy how difficult it was to make an actual podcast,” says Anchor CEO Mike Mignano, “There’s the expensive microphone you have to buy, the difficult software you have to manage on your computer and learn. And there’s the processing of uploading and paying to host your audio files.”

Acquired by Spotify in 2019, the app is already proving to be a wild success. Last October, the number of podcast listeners on Anchor’s platform grew 40% compared to the previous quarter.

3. Yubo

Used by young people aged 13 to 25 years old, Yubo is a social networking platform aimed at tech-savvy and innovation-focused Gen Z internet users. Yubo uses live-streaming technology designed to help teenagers be both consumer and creator, and make new friends using only their smartphones.

In this way, Yubo is a disruptive departure from the passive scrolling experiences of Facebook and Instagram. Instead, young people are encouraged to embark on more meaningful connections with other Yubo users - connections safeguarded by savvy, custom-made technology.

Since the app’s launch, Yubo users have sent more than 10 billion messages, and opened more than 30 million live video streams. The app raised €11.2 million from major French private equity firms in 2019, and is set to launch a new feature – Yubo Web – sometime this year. The new feature seeks to facilitate making friendships beyond smartphones and onto new platforms like video game live streaming.

4. Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go has quickly emerged as Europe’s top app for tackling food waste, saving more than 20 million edible meals from the waste bin since its launch. The app connects users to restaurants and stores that have unsold and surplus food, and boasts 7.5 million users across nine countries. Major partners like Carrefour, YO! Sushi and Accor have already signed on to the platform.

“Across the value chain and across borders, the issue of food waste is complex and hard to fix,” says CEO Mette Lykke, “By creating a new market for surplus food, we ensure more food gets eaten, making businesses and consumers winners in the process.” As such, Too Good To has its finger on the pulse of contemporary society, where doing good for the environment and society is often a prime motivator of many Millennials and Gen Z.

These startups combine new specializations with the demands of younger generations, who are on the lookout for disruptive technologies that have a truly beneficial and meaningful impact. For all the doom and gloom, the internet may be – in some parts – becoming a much nicer place.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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