Why We Started Retro

Retro is a social app that feels like a joy, not a habit. It’s a friends-only photo journal where you share for yourself as much as your friends. It gently nudges you to find at least one moment each week to remember and then put that moment out there in a post so your friends know what you’re up to.

One early indicator that we’re on the right track is that our friends that deeply value privacy and safety feel comfortable enough to share photos of their kids’ faces and flight itineraries and wild parties — things they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing elsewhere.

We started working on it when we realized something: after all that has been built in social since the iPhone, we now see less of our friends on social than we did 5 years ago. The apps that have traditionally served this purpose well have pivoted toward entertainment created by people you don’t know, and even though this content is entertaining, it also crowds out the other content that friends share with each other. So now we’re left sorting through a ton of message threads to see what’s going on with friends, or most commonly, we just don’t get that update at all. That’s a superpower lost.

Even though consumer social is insanely hard, we decided to do this together because it’s the app we wanted for ourselves, and we think it’s important that people have a place that remains dedicated to being the best place to catch up with friends and family.

So give it a whirl! If you’ve taken a photo on your iPhone in the last month, you have enough to get started. And as you use it over the course of a couple weeks, we hope it helps you appreciate moments big and small in your own life and in the lives of your friends and family.

The Ethos Behind Retro

We’re an ethos-driven company, and for Retro, we wanted to capture some of the guiding ideas that went into this first version of Retro:

1/ Remembering and appreciating life is an active process.

Ferris Bueller was right: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” You’re likely already taking a ton of photos and videos on your camera phone. Retro helps you to pick the ones that you’ll want to remember each week so that you can look back on your weeks and appreciate all that has happened.

2/ Social apps are better when everyone participates.

Who wants to go out on a limb to share something small from their day when no one else is sharing small moments? Posting can sometimes make you feel vulnerable, like you’re the only one on the dance floor, and it’s so much better when all your friends on are the dance floor together. Retro gets everyone on the dance floor by nudging everyone to share at least once a week.

3/ The ability to keep up with your extended circle of friends is a superpower.

When your phone started shipping with a high quality camera, you suddenly had this amazing ability to see and be seen by almost all of the people you care about. That’s magic. But that magic is lost if there’s not a space that makes sharing those moments comfortable. Retro want to retrieve and sustain that super power for people.

4/ Your apps should respect your intention and your attention.

If you’re opening an app to see friends and family, it should be easy to see family and friends first. And you shouldn’t have to wade through a sea of other content and fall down rabbit holes just to get there. You should be able to close the app session and feel like you got exactly what you were looking for.

5/ Craft means optimizing for people, not business.

We appreciate the need to create a business, and Retro must become a profitable business if our larger company is going to serve the world in the way we hope. But we think there’s a difference between creating a thriving business and optimizing every pixel in your app for a business outcome. We’re optimizing for people first. In every detail of our product, we want you to see the fingerprints of a team that cares about your delight as an end in itself.