Next time you launch one of your deepest secrets — like a delicate, Japanese floating lantern — onto the dark and beckoning waters of the Whisper app, stop for a minute to think about where it could wash up.
Your secret might find itself embedded in a Buzzfeed listicle, like “19 Brutally Honest Teacher Confessions.”
That’s because Whisper, despite its name, is not exactly hush-hush. The app invites you to write out secrets, dress them up with some fonts and a background image, and share then anonymously with the world of other Whisper users. But you’re actually casting your secrets onto the waves of the Internet, where they’ll be dispersed, commented on, mocked, reposted, aggregated, and — maybe — turned into viral content meant to assist marketers with their brand awareness campaigns. That Buzzfeed story, for instance, published on March 12, already has 1.1 million views.
Now Buzzfeed has teamed up with Whisper to make more of those lists of shocking confessions. Whisper’s new editor-in-chief is Neetzan Zimmerman, the former traffic-generating star of Gawker Media, and he’s the one behind the partnership. Zimmerman left Gawker in January for the (presumably more lucrative) startup gig; Whisper reportedly raised a $30 million round of investment earlier this month. For its part, Buzzfeed has raised $46.3 million, most recently a $19.3 million Series D in January 2013.
Zimmerman has a good eye for the kind of content that will drive pageviews, and — while the partnership reportedly involves no exchange of money between the two companies — viral traffic from Whisper will benefit both Whisper and Buzzfeed, the former from increased awareness, and the latter from advertising.
The New York Times first reported the partnership this morning, and while I can’t find an official statement on it from either Buzzfeed or Whisper, Zimmerman confirmed the details to another viral listicle-generating website, Mashable.