You might have heard about the superhot 2015 startup Camarilla, the social media platform that wants to make social media more personal. With the Path like app, users share photo’s and video’s with a maximum of fifteen people at a time. The catch: posts and following conversations aren’t public, but sent as individual direct messages. With an estimated million users, companies like Facebook and Snapchat are interested in what Camarilla has to offer. But do the user numbers actually add up?
Camarilla (meaning a group of courtiers or favourites who surround a king or ruler) was co-founded by CEO Constance Schouten in 2015. In a time where mass sharing, followers and likes are king, Camarilla’s intimate idea of social media came as a breath of fresh air. Schouten envisioned a social media platform that allowed users to actually connect and share with each other – an element of social media that seemed to have lost its sincerity and importance over the years. Camarilla therefore allows a maximum of fifteen friends, a number that is based on the work of anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who claimed that fifteen is the maximum amount of people one could develop friendship.
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It seemed Schouten wasn’t the only one with these values. Since launch, Camarilla has received an investment of almost 3.5 million dollars from investor Alex Mulder van Amerborgh, enough money to grow and develop for the next six years. Two days after launch, 15.000 people were using the app, a number that doubled after two weeks.
In a recent interview in Het Financieele Dagblad, Schouten said that after eight months Camarilla is used in 130 countries, with an average of one million users per month. Those are big, impressive numbers, especially when you think that no marketing was involved, only word of mouth. This massive userbase had to be a big reason for companies like Facebook and Snapchat to show their interest in the app as FD reported– news that surely boosted Camarilla’s exposure in the media.
The question is: do these extraordinary numbers actually hold up? On the comment section of the interview, many critical readers were wondering where Camarilla based these numbers on. According to the Google Play Store, the app (launched June this year) was installed on an Android device between 1000 and 5000 times, which means that around 995.500 Camarilla users should be active on an Apple iOS device. Although Apple doesn’t publish the amount of installs, only 28 reviews about the app were posted in the Dutch Apple Store – in the American store, there aren’t even enough reviews to show a score.
Let’s say about one percent of app users post a review about their experience. But even if you take 0.1 % of a million users, the numbers simply don’t add up. It might be downloads, but let’s not confuse it with active users. Is Camarilla boasting numbers they can’t prove to attract attention, or are we missing something here?
Editor’s note: our reporter reached out several times to Camarilla for comment, thusfar we haven’t had a response. We’ll update the story.