Israeli’s new app is not just for sending quick messages to friends.
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Israeli Or Arbel, founder and CEO of the new and intriguingly simple app company Yo, told Forbes he believes that his invention has the potential to do a lot more than just send people “pokes.”
One place where Arbel feels that Yo can have a practical use is in coffee bars. Right now, people have to stand around waiting for their order. But with Yo they can find a seat and get to work on their laptops or start reading the paper and the app will inform them when their coffee is ready.
As Arbel put it, “You have to stand there for three minutes instead of working on your laptop. It’s primitive!”
The concept is already being tested at the Grand Café in Miami. Any patron with Yo can check the cafe’s site for two-for-one coffee, 10% discounts or free desserts, like chocolate mousse, tarts and cheese cake. Its co-owner, Meir Zifri, told Forbes, “It’s a great way to communicate with customers.”
Arbel told Forbes, “This isn’t going to replace WhatsApp, but add a layer of simple, lightweight, non-distraction notifications.”
Arbel said that when he first revealed the app to friends and colleagues, he received reactions indicating it was the stupidest app they had ever seen. The press also commented that the app “will kill humanity.”
“Lots of people tell me the same reactions that we’re getting now about Yo, were the same reactions about Twitter ‘What can possibly be said on Twitter?’”
Yo has brought in $1 million in funding and the app already has more than 2 million downloads. It has an open application programming interface, which has allowed more than 2, 000 developers to begin programming complementary service with the app.
One example is a new alert system developed rapidly in response to the current Israeli conflict with Hamas which warns Israelis when a new rocket has been fired by Hamas at their country.
But the company is still reeling from the news last month that it was successfully hacked when pranksters were able to access users’ accounts and send Yos in other people’s names.
Or Arbel is a graduate in computer science from Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel, who recently moved to Silicon Valley, California, to work on Yo full time. He is putting the $1 million in funding towards opening an office and hiring a staff.