From Buzz to Fizz: Anonymous social platform takes off at Stanford

Jan. 23, 2022, 8:32 p.m.

When two Stanford sophomores launched the anonymous social platform Buzz on campus in August, it attracted several hundred Stanford users. Now, less than six months since its inception, Buzz has made its mark on campus life with its user base skyrocketing to nearly three-quarters of the undergraduate student population.

While the name Buzz has become ingrained for many Stanford students, the social platform has been rebranded as “Fizz” — a move prompted by trademark concerns, the app’s co-founders said.

The app, which has been embraced by thousands of Stanford students, serves as an anonymous forum for discussion about campus life, including academics, social life and athletics. Users can also post quips, confessions, crushes and debate current event topics. According to co-founder Teddy Solomon ’24, who is a host of The Daily’s Stanford Men’s Basketball podcast, Fizz has 5,100 users in the Stanford community — 80% of which are active on the platform every week.

The response to Fizz has been so encouraging that its co-founders, Ashton Cofer ’24 and Solomon, have stepped away from Stanford classes to focus on running and growing the app full-time. Cofer and Solomon said their leave of absence was inspired by Fizz’s impact at Stanford so far and a desire to share a similar experience with college students around the country. 

“We originally created Buzz as a platform for our friends to have fun and to help students connect to their campus because while we were at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we all felt so disconnected from campus,” Cofer said. “To see how Buzz, now Fizz, has evolved over time to become an inclusive and uplifting platform for everyone and keep positive through content moderation has been rewarding for us.”

Cofer and Solomon said that the move away from Buzz was made to avoid future issues arising from not owning the trademark to the name. As a precautionary measure, the app’s team came together to brainstorm new names.

“We really liked that Buzz was one syllable — super quick but it also represents what the app is about,” Solomon said of the brainstorm process. “We eventually came upon the name Fizz, which we absolutely loved.”

The co-founders said that like the previous name, Fizz is symbolic of the dynamic culture on the Stanford campus: “Fizz is Stanford’s social media platform,” Solomon said, “and ideas and information are always ‘fizzing’ on campus.” 

The rebranding, which happened on Jan. 5, involved scrubbing the Buzz name from the app and its social media accounts. The Fizz team also launched a new Instagram account for the Stanford page, periodically featuring top Fizz posts and other updates. Despite the changes, one thing is staying the same: the app’s iconic bee logo. Solomon said that the bee logo is being conserved “because it also applies to the name Fizz — it represents the app and is at the core of what we’ve created.”

While the change was initially met with resistance among some of the app’s users who were steadfast to the Buzz name, others said they enjoy the new name. 

“We all think Fizz is a great name,” said Ellen Abraham ’24, adding that the new name “really encompasses the vibe of the app.”

A user since it was first introduced during the summer, Abraham said that unlike other social media platforms that are broadly focused and not specific to individual communities, Fizz directly relates to Stanford and its students. This means that context is built-in to the user experience, she added, since most students can relate to similar experiences.

Abraham added that Fizz has provided her with tangible benefits, allowing her to sell her bike and obtain clarification on a psychology homework assignment. For other students, Fizz has helped them connect to the broader campus community.

“Since my entire first year was online, Fizz has basically been a part of my real Stanford experience since the beginning,” said Kabir Jolly ’24, a sophomore from Texas. “Whenever something big happens on campus, seeing everyone’s reaction on Fizz is great — some of the posts on there are super creative and hilarious.”

The rebranding has set the stage for the anonymous platform’s future with plans for Fizz to launch at a handful of colleges in the coming weeks, the co-founders said. Solomon described the rollouts as “controlled launches” at a few colleges with plans to expand to more in the future. Fizz developers are also working to improve key app features for users, as well as backend tools, including content moderation, for moderators, Cofer said.  

Abraham and Jolly both said that the anonymous platform has been a significant part of their Stanford experience so far and said students at other college students would benefit from having access to the platform. 

“Without Fizz, I would be less connected to the Stanford community so I think other college campuses should definitely have the app and it would really take off everywhere,” Abraham said.

Cameron Ehsan is a junior at Stanford studying neurobiology. He served as a news editor and newsroom development director for Vol. 261 and was the Vol. 260 winter managing editor.

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