24/06/2014 13:47 BST | Updated 24/08/2014 06:59 BST

All the Rage in Cannes: The Return of Valleyspeak, Yo!

So much meaning in so few letters.

Dude 1: Yo!

Dude 2: Yo!

Dude 1: Yo! Yo!

Valleyspeak has made a comeback. But not the LA valley girl dialect that defined the nineties (like, seriously?). In the past week, Silicon Valley has gone gaga about a new instant messaging app / social network that only allows you to communicate with one word: Yo!

You thought last month's startup du jour Secret was ridiculous? You've not seen anything yet.

For those who have still to come across the wonders of Yo!, here's how it works. You install the app, it scans your phone book to find friends of yours that also have the app (as phone numbers have replaced usernames a la whatsapp), then it allows you to say Yo! to them. That's about it.

It's surprisingly addictive. A bit like poking in the early days of Facebook.

But the most surprising thing was where I learned about the app: last week during the Cannes Lions advertising festival, which judging by the dominance of tech companies on La Croisette is rapidly turning into the European SXSW.

This app isn't just being used by college kids with fratboy tendencies - three separate senior marketing execs raved about the app to me.


Perhaps their better judgment was skewed by too many glasses of rosé, but it did get me thinking: could this app actually have a serious purpose? Could it be a marketing channel? After all, it allegedly secured $1M of venture funding last week.

A service has already popped up where you can be sent a Yo! every time a goal is scored in the world cup (just send a Yo! to 'WORLDCUP' if you would like to sign up). I can see other applications:

  • a Yo! when your package is delivered
  • a Yo! when it's time to board a flight
  • a Yo! to remind you to head back to the dentist for a check-up

In a world of communication overload, there is something refreshing about the simplicity of Yo! It might sound ridiculous but so did Twitter's 140 character limit when they launched - and we all know what happened there.

Will Whatsapp and Facebook keep up by adding a Yo! Button to their apps? (I guess Facebook messenger's big blue thumbs up is halfway there). I can't wait to find out. But in the meantime: Yo!