messaging

Is rumr the next big anonymous app?

March 25, 2014: 10:00 AM ET

This time around, group messaging goes incognito.

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"What was always missing for me was a more emotional way to connect via message: a place where you could be yourself and to say things you couldn't or weren't comfortable saying anywhere else," says rumr CEO and co-founder James Jurlecki. Photo: JP Mangalindan/Fortune.com

FORTUNE -- Believe it or not, there's another anonymous app jockeying for your time.

Launching today, rumr is a free iOS and Android app that plucks contacts from a user's address book, Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), or Google + (GOOG) account and lets users create group message threads brimming with up to 100 anonymous, socially connected users. In doing so, the app makers hope rumr will enable the kind of juicy, verbal free-for-all that has made Secret a buzzed-about app but at the same time, foster an environment that feels safer for the user.

The Los Angeles-based startup was co-founded by James Jerlecki, Collin Vance, and Andrew Chae, who worked together at textPlus, a free texting and calling app that reports 50 million members worldwide. "We spent a lot of time at textPlus thinking about new ways to connect the entire world," says Jerlecki. "What was always missing for me was a more emotional way to connect via message: a place where you could be yourself and to say things you couldn't or weren't comfortable saying anywhere else." The company has raised $800,000 to date in seed funding from backers including Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, and Greycroft Partners.

MORE: How long can you keep a Secret? 

To ensure users keep guessing, user names aren't attached to their comments in a group chat. And when someone new enters the fray, everyone's corresponding color changes -- a sort of color-coding roulette. In practice, the process isn't nearly as complicated as it sounds, but it may take some getting used to at first.

Like other apps laser-focused on anonymity, rumr's success appears entirely dependent on its users: whether they generate compelling enough content -- or in this case, have persistently titillating conversations -- so members come back for more. Obviously, it's Jerlecki's hope that his startup's approach accomplishes that. Says Jerlecki: " I envision these chats becoming more emotional because these are people you see once a day, once a week, or once a month. That to me creates a safer environment than some of the other ones [apps] I'm seeing."

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