How to Grease a Chatbot: E-Commerce Companies Seek a Backdoor Into AI ResponsesRead more

Sept. 3, 2022 7:00 AM PDT

Alex Ma describes the last week of May 2021 as both “a dream and a nightmare at the same time.” That was the week when his social media app, Poparazzi, made a dramatic breakthrough, soaring to the top of Apple’s App Store chart, which landed the app a $15 million Series A led by Benchmark the following month. A precursor to this summer’s BeReal craze of freewheeling, uncurated social media, Poparazzi had users snap spontaneous photos of their friends instead of posting curated photos of themselves.

That week was a founder’s dream, but also a mess for the app’s three-person team. “You don’t realize that being No. 1 also means that everything around you is burning down,” Ma said. It’s been almost a year since then: The chaos has quieted, Ma’s team has hired seven more full-time employees, and the app has reached over 5 million members. Meanwhile, Ma spent the last year finding unique ways to maintain sanity.

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