BeReal Contemplates Monetization as Popularity Surges

BeReal reaches a social media turning point.

Brian Boyle
Image Credit: iStock, Pinkypills
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Like the content it pushes its users to create and share, the chief issue facing fast-growing social media site BeReal couldn’t be more real. It doesn’t make enough money.

As the app grows, its leaders are contemplating askewing ad revenue for in-app purchases, sources told the Financial Times this weekend. After all, BeReal has won millions of fans by promoting authenticity, and hyper-targeted internet ads don’t exactly scream authenticity.

Let it BeReal

At a random time once a day, BeReal prompts its users to post both a photo and a selfie within the next two minutes. The result? Feeds full of photos of friends on the couch, typing at a desk, or waiting in the check-out line in the grocery store. In other words, just living a real life. It’s a pointed rebuttal to the glitzy, highly-curated, and endlessly-filtered feeds found on Instagram and TikTok that subtly warp our perception of reality and leads everyone — young and teenaged users in particular — to feel their acquaintances’ lives are much more fun and fulfilling than their own.

The no-frills approach has rocketed the French app to popularity since its 2020 launch, and now it’s trying to solve a problem that’s been around for as long as Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker have known each other: how to cash in on all those users. The internal debate comes at a critical time, one that may decide if the platform becomes the next 15-minutes-of-fame app like Clubhouse and YikYak or join the inner circle of social of Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram:

  • BeReal has 15 million daily active users, marking explosive growth from just 10,000 about a year ago and blowing past internal targets; insiders believe it could reach tens of millions by the end of the year, according to the FT.
  • In June, Andreesen Horowitz and Accel led a $30 million series A funding round, which FT reports set a valuation of around $600 million. Paid features and extras aren’t likely to launch until Q3 2023.

BeDeviled: Rapid growth has led to technical road bumps. The app’s notification prompt gets sent simultaneously to every user, meaning millions of photos are being uploaded at once — a software engineer’s nightmare.

BeLike BeReal: Of course, the copycats have already arrived. TikTok launched a BeReal clone last week, called TikTok Now, and Instagram has been testing its IG Candid clone feature since August. Whether or not BeReal sticks around, the French have put their mark on médias sociaux.

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