Has Fizz fizzled out? New social media app receives mixed reviews after Claremont takeover

A collage of different 5C locations is layered with the logo for "Fizz." Money signs are on top of the text.
Fizz aims to become a presence on college campuses as a widespread anonymous social media platform for students. (Emily Briones • The Student Life)

Social media app Fizz is creating a buzz at the Claremont Colleges after being heavily publicized by 5C student ambassadors upon its arrival at the 5Cs on Sept. 28. 

First launched at Stanford University as “Buzz” on July 29, 2021, the platform allows students to anonymously post memes, photos and Tweet-like messages. Co-founded by Stanford dropouts Teddy Solomon and Ashton Cofer, Fizz operates out of Palo Alto near Stanford’s campus.

The app has expanded its reach to campuses like Rice, Elon, Dartmouth, Wake Forest, Chapman and Tulane. Solomon stated that 95 percent of Stanford’s approximately 7,600 undergraduates have downloaded the app, whereas at Rice, the figure is closer to 70 percent.

Currently, Fizz has stated that they have plans to expand to more than 1,000 campuses by the end of the 2023 academic year. This follows an Oct. 4 seed round led by investor and CEO Rakesh Mathur that raised $4.5 million for the venture. 

Drawing comparisons to YikYak, the differentiating factor of Fizz is the method in which they conduct moderation, according to Solomon. Fizz states that they hire about 15 moderators per school in addition to their AI-based content screening. 

The app markets itself as unique as the posts made by students can only be seen by students in their respective college campuses. This means that students at the Claremont Colleges can view and interact with posts that are 5C-exclusive. 

“[The flyers] did feel like an invasion of privacy in some ways and really blatant advertising, and so I was a little bit baffled that they did that.”

Peter Schwammlein PO ’26

Fizz has mainly focused its advertising through student hires at the five schools that post content on Fizz, promote the app on Instagram, post flyers on spots around the five campuses and more. 

As a lead ambassador for Pomona College, Peter Schwammlein PO ’26 promoted Fizz on his personal Instagram page and encouraged fellow students to do the same. He was paid a total of $265 for the job. 

Originally, Schwammlein aimed to recruit five ambassadors to help advertise with donuts and hats through an in-person launch event. However, these responsibilities changed when the company did not get certain permissions to do this event in time. 

Schwammlein admitted that his pay was high when compared to the amount of work he put into the job, describing the job as being low-stress.

“My responsibilities were very small, especially since the in-person launch did not follow through,” Schwammlein said. “It was nice, in some ways, that they still followed through with money even though we didn’t have the in-person launch … they were initially planning to pay us $400 total.” 

Another Pomona student, who was granted anonymity due to a non-disclosure agreement, served as a moderator for the app until quitting. She stated that the job was time-consuming. As Fizz required 30 to 40 5C-tailored posts on the app per day throughout multiple hours of the day. 

“They wanted to show off the fact that we could post photos, so photos of dining hall food, what the weather would look like, mass emails, things that people would recognize and know, and they wanted it to be hyper, hyper-specific to the 5Cs, so inside jokes, things like that that we would know,” the Pomona student said. 

She also moderated the app to see if the posts were free of obscene or other inappropriate content. These responsibilities, especially the frequency with which she had to post, prompted her to quit the job, she stated. 

“I thought that 30 posts a day was absurd,” she said. “I understand wanting to increase engagement, but it was definitely something that was just weighing on my mind all the time. I was thinking about it in class, I didn’t meet my quota to post and I just found that it was overburdening me. It was very tense. It was very strenuous.” 

During her work for the company, the Pomona student put flyers up on people’s dorms for extra money, an advertising move that Schwammlein found to be problematic.  

“A lot of people got really upset about [the flyers], including my roommate, and I was glad not to be a part of that because it did feel like an invasion of privacy in some ways and really blatant advertising, and so I was a little bit baffled that they did that,” Schwammlein said. 

According to Schwammlein, the company’s advertising tactics have been largely successful among three of the five schools, although their goals have not been met yet at Pomona and Harvey Mudd College. Their aim, he said, is to reach a majority of the community at the Claremont Colleges.  

Solomon reiterated this objective in an interview with TechCrunch. 

“On any given campus, we’re going to have 50 to 60 percent of our users getting onto the platform every single day,” Solomon said. 

This is a goal that Schwammlein is willing to help them achieve down the road, as he states that this connection is something that could potentially benefit him in the future.

“I figure I’ll just stay an open contact for them, in a sense, if it’s low stakes and I’m not having to put a lot of thought into it,” Schwammlein said. “You never know if they decide they want to do something bigger with me, and I don’t know if I want that myself, but at least I want that opportunity opened.” 

Moreover, Schwammlein said he had a relatively positive learning experience with Fizz. 

“It was a very interesting learning experience for me,” Schwammlein said. “I’ve never been contacted directly like that before to start from something that’s still on its ground level, in a sense, and so it was exciting in that way. My experience with Fizz has been something new for me, but the people I was working with were really fine and they weren’t problematic in any sense, as far as I could tell. They just wanted to promote their product and seemed like they believed in what they were doing.”

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