November 8, 2023

Black-owned Twitter alternative Spill raises an extra $2M

Alphonzo Terrell

Aphonzo Terrell, who was laid off from Twitter last year, confirmed that his app Spill, which gained popularity within the Black community, has recently raised a $2M extension round and had celebrity investments. 

The Spill App 

Terrell and DeVaris Brown – CEO and CTO of Spill – are both former Twitter – now known as X – employees.

The two met on their first day working at Twitter after noticing they were the only Black guys on their team.

However, when Elon Musk bought Twitter, Terrell was laid off from his role as the global head of social and editorial, along with roughly 3,700 other employees.

After being laid off, he hopped on a call with Brown to discuss a business idea, and the two spent three days creating the pitch deck for Spill.

Spill launched in beta in July 2023 and gained immediate popularity within the Black community.

Its deliberate mission is to build diverse communities from day one rather than as an afterthought, as it is a safer place for Black Americans and the LGBTQ community.

Spill is open to anyone, but by focusing on serving communities typically marginalized online, including with new content moderation, Terrell believes the experience on Spill will be better for all users.

The app, which is currently invite-only, has a live news feed and allows people to stay updated with current affairs and pop news culture.

The platform also uses blockchain technology to chart how many posts go viral.

Users are compensated for any “spill” that goes viral, unlike other platforms where viral content tends to go unnoticed.

New Features and Future Plans

Now, Terrell has announced a number of successes and a new feature for the app.

Spill, still in beta mode, has now raised $5M in pre-seed funding, including a recent $2M extension round led by Collide Capital.

“We put in an invite-only beta in June, and within three weeks, it went viral,” Terrell told TechCrunch.

“Suddenly, we’re supporting a city, we have data costs, we have infrastructure, we have to accelerate our building times, so we really needed an extension to do that effectively.”

He also announced that the app has a new feature: Tea Party – similar to Instagram Live – with actress Kerry Washington becoming the first user to host.

Washington joined the platform organically with Keke Palmer, Questlove, Ava DuVernay, and Janelle Monae, as Spill has yet to pay for a single acquisition.

It has also attracted advertising partners like Netflix, Lionsgate, VH1, Showtime and Sony Pictures.

“Tea Parties reflect the communities that we have always spoken very clearly that we are here to center,” said Kenya Parham, Spill’s Global VC of Community and Partnerships.

“Black communities, queer communities, women, non-binary and femme stories are all the way at the forefront, and the community is just eating it up.”

When asked why he thinks other platforms still need to create a consistently safe and inclusive experience for a wide range of diverse users, Terrell told CNN that most of them still need to be founded or created by people from marginalized groups.

“We have been very intentional about the people building this platform and the audiences that we’re centering from the beginning,” he said.

“In building culture-driving communities, you have to understand it on a visceral level.”

The app will exit beta and open to the public next year.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.