Before he was fired from Twitter, Alphonso Terrell had dedicated three years of his life to heading the platform’s social and editorial teams. After he was fired following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, Terrell decided to create something new. To that end, he got on the phone with his friend and former colleague, DeVaris Brown.
Terrell said: “I called him, and I said, ‘I think it’s time to build, and if we do this together, I think this can be really successful.”
It took them only hours to devise plans to launch a new app. They wanted it to be everything social media struggles to be: positive, safe, and inclusive. They named it Spill, inspired by the phrase “spill the tea,” which means sharing gossip or information.
Terrell is particular about creating a safe, rewarding, and financially successful platform for marginalized communities, including Blacks and the LGBTQ+. He believes these users play a significant role in driving online culture but are more prone to harassment.
Spill is open to everyone and is to be equipped with new content moderation and creator payment strategies. Terrell believes both things will elevate the platform’s user experience. Essentially, it aims to become everything Terrell believes Twitter no longer is.
Terrell said: “Our core thesis with Spill was to focus on the culture drivers — Black women, the queer community, other culture-driving communities around the world that are often setting the tone, the trends, the lexicon, all the amazing magic that will happen on social platforms, but getting the lion’s share of hate, abuse [and] not getting credited or rewarded the way they should for their contributions.”
Of course, Spill is not aiming to recreate Twitter or other existing platforms. April Reign, the equity advocate and #OscarsSoWhite creator who is now an advisor to Spill, said:
“The distinction here is that Spill is not trying to be Black Twitter 2.0. I think that Black Twitter thrived … sometimes in spite of the platform itself. Spill is intentionally creating a foundation.”
Terrell and his team believe that Spill perfectly caters to marginalized groups because it was created by a team filled with such people. Already, users of the platform have developed some community traditions. These include a weekly movie viewing where they agree to watch a film at the same time and post their reactions. The phenomenon is now known as “Live Spilling.”
Terrell says that the Spill app is designed to be a cross between a group chat and a meme machine. Its iOS beta version was launched in June 2023. Since then, more than 200,000 users have signed up for Spill, while another 200,000 have joined the waitlist.
In July 2023, Spill hit the top of the Apple App Store’s most popular social apps list. However, its user volume remains far smaller than competitors like X and Meta’s Threads.
The company’s initial goal had been to have 100,000 users by the end of 2023, but they have surpassed that, proving that they are on the right path. It will take some time before the app can be cited as a competitor for other social media platforms, but if Terrell and his team keep working at this pace, it won’t be too long.