- Geneva, a group chat app launched in 2021, has become popular with Gen Z women.
- The app is used by creators and brands to create private and personal online communities.
- Geneva raised $22 million in funding from venture capital firms like Coatue, Base Partners, Inspired Capital.
The Moon Men. Wicked Saddie. Snapshot. These are the names of a handful of “houses” on the group chat app Geneva.
In recent months, influencers who have built their following on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter have set up homes in Geneva, which look like workspaces on Slack or servers on Discord, said the Geneva community leader, Kim Johnson. And brands like luxury jeweler Mejuri, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty cosmetics line and vintage skincare company August have followed suit.
Several influencers Insider spoke to said they’re using Geneva to create a new kind of online community, one not dictated by the number of followers that rule platforms like Instagram and YouTube, but rooted in conversations between people who share their interests. These influencers see their homes as virtual havens for users weary of the impersonal algorithms shape online business.
In fact, Geneva takes its name from the Geneva Conventions, the famous treaties negotiated after the atrocities of World War II that dictated the humane treatment of people during wars. These treaties were a unifying moment to “make the world a better place,” founder Justin Hauser told Insider, and the purpose of the Geneva app is similar.
“Our mission is to build a better internet that helps support and encourage people to come together in a safe place to have a healthy conversation,” Hauser said.
While the company doesn’t share its user numbers with Insider, it said its user base has quadrupled since the start of 2022. Johnson said Gen Z and millennial women are the “point ideal” from Geneva, although users of the app range across ethnicities, genders and ages.
Driven by Creators and Gen Z
Geneva was launched in 2021. Although this is Hauser’s first social media venture, he has co-founded a series of lifestyle brands over the years through a holding company called Life Capital. , such as infused sparkling water company Recess – which launched in 2017 and raised $28. million, according to PitchBook.
Geneva, has already raised $22 million, according to Crunchbase, from companies like Coatue, G9 Ventures, Base Partner and Inspired Capital. (Geneva declined to confirm the amount raised.)
The idea of launching the app had been simmering in Hauser’s mind for years, he said, after seeing digital communities on everything from climate activism to Gen Z voting awareness, train in the four corners of the Internet.
What was missing, he said, was the technology that could help them get organized properly. The “dopamine-inducing tricks” of likes and follower counts on existing social media platforms weren’t meeting the needs of these groups, he said.
Geneva “is at the crossroads of what communities — creator-led and Gen Z — are looking for,” Alexa von Tobel, managing partner at Inspired Capital who helped seed Geneva seed funding, told Insider VC. She said it’s because the app has prioritized building safe spaces and giving users ownership.
Many other players
If this mission and approach sounds a bit familiar, it’s because there are so many competitors out there, some almost as old as the internet itself. Reddit was launched in 2005 during the embryonic age of the Internet. Discord has become one of the most popular apps among Gen Z with over 150 million active monthly users, according in Quartz, from July 2021.
Clubhouse’s audio-only community has also become a pandemic darling, but, as Insider previously reported, it saw its popularity dwindle in 2021 when the covid lockdown ended. Yet, Clubhouse spinoffs have also been kicked off by Facebook and Twitter, with different levels of success so far.
But Geneva spokespersons say this app is different from all those others.
“Clubhouse started out as an elite invitation-only service. It’s the opposite of Geneva and the way it was built,” spokeswoman Brooke Hammerling said. “Inclusiveness is at the forefront of many product and brand decisions, and is designed to flatten/remove the traditional hierarchy present on most other platforms.”
Rooms upon rooms
When new users connect to Geneva, they can settle themselves or join one of the existing accommodations on the app. Within each house, users can move between five types of rooms. Chat rooms are for instant conversation. Forums are for announcements and longer posts that stimulate discussion threads. Broadcast rooms allow live video to be broadcast to large numbers of viewers, while video rooms host face-to-face chats with up to 16 people. Audio rooms also exist for voice conversations between an unlimited number of guests. Houses can have an infinite number of rooms, says the company.
Priscilla O. Agyeman, a content creator who started sad villains on Instagram in 2019, describes her as an online community for women of color that focuses on destigmatizing mental health. She said saddie baddies now has 16,000 followers across all of her social media accounts including Twitter, TikTok and Facebook.
In the spring of 2021, Agyeman created a house of saddie baddies in Geneva which now has more than 1000 members. Once a month, she organizes a call for members in the audio room.
“It’s like a breath of fresh air that I don’t have to play. I can literally show up and be myself, face mask, but still talk to people who are part of this community,” he said. she declared. “I know Clubhouse started creating this space, but Geneva seems to be a much safer and more vibrant space.”