The Rise and Fall of IRL: IRL’s Shocking Revelation of 95% Fake User Numbers

6 min readJul 3, 2023
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Last night, as the sun began to set, Jeremy felt a heavy weight on his shoulders.

He knew he needed someone to talk to, someone who would lend a sympathetic ear. Without hesitation, he reached for his phone and dialled my (Ash) number.

“Hey, Ash,” Jeremy said, his voice filled with a mix of weariness and anticipation. “Are you up for grabbing a drink? I could really use some company tonight.”

Me personally, I am always ready to be there for his friend, immediately agreed.

We both agreed to meet at a cosy pub in Southwark, a place where we could unwind and find solace after a long day at work.

As we settled into our seats, the ambiance of the pub enveloped them, providing a welcome respite from the outside world.

I noticed the sadness etched on Jeremy’s face and the heavy sigh that escaped his lips.

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“Hey, Jeremy,” I said, concern lacing his words. “What’s happening? You seem really down and disappointed. Care to share?”

Jeremy took a moment, gathering his thoughts, before he began to explain the source of his sadness.

He revealed the shocking revelation he had stumbled upon about the IRL app — the very app that had promised him real connections and meaningful relationships.

His voice tinged with disbelief, Jeremy recounted how he had engaged with numerous potential dates through the app, pouring his heart into conversations that now appeared to be nothing more than digital illusions.

The chilling truth was that an internal investigation by IRL’s board of directors had revealed that a staggering 95% of the app’s reported 20 million users were “automated or from bots.”

The magnitude of the deception hit Jeremy like a wave, leaving him feeling betrayed and disillusioned.

It was difficult to comprehend how a company that had raised over $200 million in venture capital could have allowed such a fraudulent user base to flourish.

As Jeremy poured out his heart to me, he felt a mix of frustration and vulnerability.

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He shared how the SEC had launched an investigation into IRL, questioning whether the company had violated securities laws by misleading investors.

Amidst the shock and disappointment, Jeremy also recounted how IRL’s rise and fall had mirrored his own journey.

Just like the app’s rapid ascent, he had allowed himself to get swept up in the excitement, believing in the possibility of genuine connections.

But now, faced with the truth, he was determined to navigate a different path.

In that pub, amidst the flickering candlelight and the clinking of glasses, Jeremy and I embarked on a journey of rediscovery — one that would steer us away from the illusory realm of the digital landscape and into the realm of genuine human connections.

Together, we delved deeper into the shocking revelations surrounding IRL.

Jeremy shared additional details he had learned from the articles he had read.

He disclosed how IRL, despite its initial promise as an event organizing alternative for the younger generation, had struggled to translate its vision into reality.

The financial implications were staggering.

Despite raising a substantial $170 million in a Series C round led by SoftBank, with a valuation exceeding $1 billion, the company’s internal troubles were becoming increasingly apparent.

Lay-offs, which affected 25% of the team, had come as a surprise to many employees. The sudden reduction in workforce signalled deeper issues within the organization.

Jeremy’s voice trembled as he recounted a note from the former CEO, Abraham Shafi, assuring employees that the company had “more than enough cash to last well into 2024.”

This proclamation had provided a temporary sense of security.

However, with the revelation of IRL’s fake user numbers, it became clear that the financial situation may have been built on a foundation of falsehoods.

The magnitude of the situation hit Jeremy and me.

We reflected on the precarious nature of trust in the digital age, where the allure of large user bases and valuations could overshadow the authenticity and genuine connections that users sought.

The story of IRL served as a reminder that success, as measured by numbers and investments, could mask the absence of true engagement and meaningful interactions.

As the conversation continued, we made a pact to prioritize genuine human connections in our own lives.

We recognised the need to look beyond digital facades and algorithms, seeking out real experiences and relationships that could enrich our lives and foster authentic connections.

Our evening at the pub in Southwark, filled with heartfelt discussions and shared insights, marked a turning point for both of us.

It was a reminder that amidst the allure of technological advancements and the virtual world, the essence of human connection and trust remained irreplaceable.

As Jeremy and I parted ways that evening, we carried with us a renewed sense of purpose.

We vowed to navigate the digital landscape with caution, valuing real interactions over artificial numbers.

Our shared experience served as a catalyst for change, urging us to embrace the authenticity we craved and inspire others to do the same.

In the face of IRL’s rise and fall, Jeremy and I found the resilience to seek genuine connections, forging a path that would redefine our understanding of friendship, trust, and the power of meaningful encounters.

Inspired by our eye-opening conversation at the pub in Southwark, Jeremy and I discovered a newfound determination to foster authentic connections in our own lives.

We recognised the need for a platform that prioritised genuine human interactions and provided a space for like-minded individuals to connect and form meaningful relationships.

With enthusiasm and a touch of entrepreneurial spirit, Jeremy and I embarked on a joint venture to create a new meetup group on Odd Circles called “Singles in London.

We envisioned it as a vibrant community that would bring together individuals seeking genuine connections, free from the artificiality that had plagued our previous experiences.

The vision for “Singles in London” was simple yet powerful.

It aimed to create a supportive environment where members could engage in real conversations, share common interests, and discover meaningful connections.

We wanted to provide a platform that went beyond superficial swipes and empty profiles, focusing instead on fostering genuine bonds and authentic experiences.

With a friendly and professional tone, Jeremy and I began building the foundations of the meetup group.

We carefully crafted a mission statement that highlighted our commitment to creating a space where members could connect on a deeper level and form lasting friendships or meaningful relationships.

The group would organize a variety of engaging activities, from casual meetups at local coffee shops to fun-filled events and outings, providing opportunities for genuine interactions to blossom.

Our experience with IRL served as a valuable lesson, reminding us of the importance of authenticity and trust in building meaningful connections.

We were determined to create a community that valued real conversations, shared experiences, and the genuine connections that could flourish when people came together with open hearts and open minds.

As we worked diligently to establish “Singles in London,” we felt a sense of excitement and purpose.

We were eager to provide a platform that would empower individuals to step away from the illusions of the digital realm and embrace the beauty of human connection.




Imagination is the key to unlock the world. I am trying to unlock mine.