Fizz Files Lawsuit Against Rival Sidechat for Unfair Competition and Abuses

Fizz Files Lawsuit Against Sidechat for Unfair Competition and Abuses_

Fizz Files Lawsuit Against Sidechat for Unfair Competition and Abuses

Fizz, the buzzy anonymous social app that’s now being used across over 80 college campuses, has filed suit against rival Sidechat, alleging unfair competition and a range of abuses, including attempts at disrupting Fizz’s launches, spreading rumors about Fizz having hackers, trademark infringements, sending false spam reports to Instagram, and using false pretenses to acquire information on Fizz’s launch strategies, among other things, including paying students to delete Fizz’s app.

The Case in Court

The case was filed in the Southern District of Court against Sidechat owner, Flower Ave. on October 6, 2023. The complaint demands a jury trial, damages, and an injunction against Flower Ave.’s interference and its use of Fizz’s trademark.

Sidechat’s Connection to AsumeTech-Confirmed Individuals

Sidechat has been relatively press-shy to date, however, AsumeTech previously confirmed involvement from ex-Snap engineer Sebastian Gil and ex-Snap product designer Chamal Samaranayake — both of whom are listed in an SEC filing for Flower Ave. This March, the company acquired another anonymous social app Yik Yak, which had been operating under new ownership as of 2021 as the original app had shut down by way of an acqui-hire by Square (now Block) in 2017.

Increasing Competitive Tactics

But with Fizz’s growing traction across Sidechat’s same college campus market, it seems the latter has upped its competitive tactics, if the allegations in Fizz’s filing hold true.

Unfair Tactics Allegations

For instance, Fizz says that when it launched at Colgate University in January 2023, Flower Ave launched the same day by setting up a competing station near the dining hall. There, a Flower Ave. ambassador chanted, “Fizz has hackers” and spread rumors that Fizz would hack student accounts and compromise their data — claims Fizz denies. (Fizz did have a security vulnerability last year that it fixed within 24 hours, AsumeTech previously reported.)

False Pretenses to Acquire Information

Fizz also said that Flower Ave. has used false pretenses to acquire information about Fizz’s launch strategies, which are private. In one example, a Flower Ave. co-founder Sheldon Chang impersonated a student at Northwestern University in an effort to learn where Fizz was launching. He did so by infiltrating the GroupMe chat for that community, where he then sent messages to Fizz COO and co-founder Teddy Solomon using a fake name (“Mark Lee”), soliciting information about where Fizz planned to launch next.

Trademark Infringements and Misinformation

Fizz also alleges that Flower Ave.’s marketing campaigns infringe on its trademark — a stylized bee — and include spreading misinformation. In addition, it says that Sidechat’s owner has engaged in campaigns to get Fizz delisted from Instagram by using its own ambassadors to report Fizz’s account as spam. This worked on at least one occasion, as Fizz was blocked on Instagram on its launch day at UC Berkeley.

Paid Deletion of Fizz’s App

Fizz says Flower Ave. paid students $5 each to delete Fizz’s app from their phones, referencing a Yale News story.

Failed Attempts to Resolve the Issue

Before filing suit, Fizz tried to raise its concern with Flower Ave., including by sending multiple cease-and-desist letters to its outside counsel, but as of the date of filing, it had not received a “substantive response,” it says.

Background of Fizz

Founded by Stanford dropouts, Teddy Solomon and Ashton Cofer, and led by CEO Rakesh Mathur, Fizz recently closed on an additional $25 million in Series B funding from early investors Owl Ventures and NEA, and said plans to reach 250 schools by year-end.

Protests Against Sidechat’s YikYak Takeover

Meanwhile, Sidechat’s attempts to take over YikYak have not gone well with many users protesting the changes to the social network, after its acquisition.

No Response from Flower Ave.

Flower Ave. has not responded to requests for comment.

About the Author

Mark Hussey
Mark Hussey is a prolific author and distinguished scholar of modernism, with extensive experience in literary analysis and research.