Yo hires hacker as app hits 1 million downloads

By Robin Parrish, Tech Times | June 23, 5:46 PM

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Minimalist messaging app Yo just keeps getting bigger. Its founder came up with a clever solution to its hacking troubles and now he's ready to take Yo to the next level.
(Photo : Chris Potter)

You could say that Yo is having a moment. The popularity of the oddly compelling, ultra-simplistic messaging app is blowing up.

This, despite the app's heavily reported hacking that occurred just days after its launch.

Yo's creator Or Arbel has announced that he's hired one of the three Georgia Institute of Technology students who hacked the app on June 19. Instead of being offended by the hacking of his newly released app, Arbel saw it as an opportunity. He's even gone so far as to say "we were lucky enough to get hacked."

The security holes were plugged by noon on June 22, though Arbel downplayed the severity of the breach. He said that only those who'd used the app's "Find Friends" feature had their phone numbers exposed. Users who never used "Find Friends" had only their Yo username exposed. Arbel learned of the breach on the night of June 19, when he was flooded with Yos sent to his phone, along with a hacked Yo that read "YoBeenHacked." He and his team investigated the situation, plugged the holes, and contacted the hacker personally. The hacker proved so helpful that Arbel was impressed enough to give him a job.

"Yo is a simple app; your privacy isn't," said Arbel in a written statement. "We take your privacy very seriously, we apologize from the bottom of our hearts, and if you have any more questions regarding these issues, you can contact me directly at or@justyo.com."

In related news, Yo has crossed the 1 million user mark, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Celebrating the app's popularity, Arbel says his next step is to get businesses involved with Yo. He imagines users receiving Yo notifications for things like food delivery confirmations, new blog posts, new products for sale, a football team's touchdown, and so on. Context is everything with Yo, so users will instinctively understand a notification when they see who it's from. To that end, Arbel today announced that Yo's API is available for developers who want to integrate Yo notifications into their services.

"Our aim is to develop the ecosystem around Yo," Arbel told the Wall Street Journal. "We're built to last," he added, insisting that the app isn't a fad. He also vowed to never change Yo or add to it. So don't get your hopes up about sending pictures, audio, or video on Yo.

Arbel writes a blog on Medium, where he's providing steady updates about the app.

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