Dashlane has introduced new features for its desktop password manager that allows you to share passwords with other Dashlane users.
A tool specifically designed to help you share something that you’re always told not to share might seem a bit strange at first, but there are plenty of good reasons you might want to share a password, or a whole bunch of passwords, with a group of people. New starters in the office, for example, are often given numerous passwords to get up and running.
By using Dashlane’s new ‘Sharing Center’, you can automatically share lists of passwords or secure notes with specified people via email and control the level of access that they have. However, they’ll need to be Dashlane users too – quite obviously passwords aren’t just emailed across. It’s all done safely within the confines of Dashlane’s client.
To keep things up-to-date, if a password is changed after being shared, the change syncs to all users. This makes it handy if you need to change passwords for a shared service regularly, or need to effectively revoke access when a member of staff leaves.
The update has also introduced an Emergency Contact option which allows you to specify a certain person (or people) to have read-only access to passwords you specify in the event of an emergency.
Small businesses or families also now have the option to buy multiple licenses at once, making things a bit more simple in the event that you’re not the only Dashlane user in your house.
Clearly, with a number of new features aimed at small teams and group pricing plans, Dashlane now wants to now start making its overall proposition more appealing to small businesses as well as family users.
The new features are available now in Dashlane for desktops and will be made available for its Android and iOS apps “soon”, the company said.
Google is teaming up with Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis – specifically its Alcon eye care division – to bring its smart contact lens to market. Originally unveiled in January, the futuristic lens analyzes the user’s tears to consistently monitor blood glucose levels.
Google[x], the team known for its work on ‘moonshot’ projects within Google, will now collaborate with Alcon to develop the lens further. The final product will require “non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturized electronics” to work accurately and seamlessly at all times.
Although diabetic patients are the target market, Google and Alcon said the “smart lens” technology could also offer vision correction for people living with presbyopia – a condition that makes it difficult to focus on near objects.
“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” Google’s Sergey Brin said. “We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true.”
Go here to see the original: Google teams up with Novartis to develop its smart glucose-tracking contact lens for diabetics
Jon Evans’ post “Welcome To Extremistan! Check Your Career At The Door” on TechCrunch warns of mass penury for this generation and the next as the dual horseman of the techno-apocalypse, robots and software, strip humans of their ability to make a living.
Essentially, he predicts machines and algorithms will consume jobs faster than we can create them. Don’t believe this dystopian vision of the future for a second, because both humans and robots will contribute to the economy in generations to come through a concept called “middle work.”
Today, non-manufacturing work largely falls into one of two categories: purely human (a judge serving sentences) or purely software (a computer serving search results). However, there’s an emerging category called middle work that is neither purely human, nor purely software. This new labor category combines both algorithms and human thought processes and will be an impactful economic driver in the next decades.
Middle work leverages what machines do best – solving low-value, high-volume problems – and combines it with what humans do best – solving high-value, low-volume problems.
Middle work is not just “information work” where humans use computers to complete tasks like millions of people do every day in the office. Rather it’s defined as work that wouldn’t be economically viable for a human to do without a workflow platform, yet is too nuanced for software to perform unaided. For example, software is great for spellchecking a marketing email, but only a human can think creatively to write an engaging headline to get consumers to click on that email.
Between these two extremes exists a middle-work world where humans use software to make the process of writing ad copy more automated and efficient. In this example, middle work might entail hundreds of copywriters using an online network to contribute potential email headlines, allowing a marketer to choose among dozens of headline options and submit several choices for A/B testing. Contributors whose headlines are chosen would earn money for their work. For marketers, this process is more streamlined and cost-efficient than hiring a stable of copywriters.
Of course, over time, software will become more advanced, but it will never be as good as people at jobs that entail creativity, judgment, empathy and a raft of other uniquely human traits. Middle work combines efficient software algorithms with human ingenuity to create a whole new class of jobs – opening up a large swath of economic opportunity. Humans will be able to use software to perform high-value, low-volume tasks with high levels of precision and accuracy.
In many ways Amazon’s Mechanical Turk was the first software-based middle work company. Today, people use Mechanical Turk to solve low-value problems such as classifying the subject of a picture. But the emerging trend is for middle-work companies to verticalize and specialize, allowing humans to leverage software platforms to solve higher-value problems. In middle work, a workflow platform creates standardized units of work, while a marketplace of human labor provides pools of workers who bring creativity and judgment to the tasks at hand.
To make it clear why middle work will become commonplace, consider the following examples: A non-native English speaker wants to verify whether she is using idioms correctly in professional correspondence. A small business owner wants to file his taxes using QuickBooks but isn’t sure of the correct categorization of a deductible 401k plan. An executive needs an accurate transcription of a meeting, but also to clearly identify each of the speakers and their importance to the group. All of these issues could be solved by web-connected humans using advanced software platforms.
Because middle-work participants don’t have to find the work themselves (the network provides the work opportunities), they can work at lower per-unit costs but still make substantial per-hour rates because their time is spent only delivering work – not prospecting, invoicing and managing clients.
For many industries, the size of the addressable middle can be larger than the head (top-level salaried positions) or the tail (low-value contract work). A handful of emerging companies are lowering the cost of producing a unit of work by combining software with human labor.
By addressing the middle, companies are not taking jobs away from people who were doing them before, but rather are adding jobs by unlocking a category of work that didn’t exist in the purely human or purely software realms.
Unlocking the middle is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs, employees and customers alike in industries as diverse as medicine, accounting, law, and music discovery.
IMAGE BY Shutterstock USER ND Johnston (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)
Read the rest here: Humans And Computers Will Come Together For Middle Work
Ever been intrigued in a hotel after looking at its brochure only to find it not so compelling when you set foot in it? Next time, try taking a look at Instagram posts taken at the hotel from travelers staying there.
That’s one way The Poshpacker, a hotel booking site, is looking to capture the “new generation of travelers.” Using Instagram is smart, but their selling point is that they’re the leading directory of creative hoteliers priced from $15 to less than $100 USD per person.
Anna Kojzar, co-founder and CEO, was studying for her masters in Barcelona when she met Tania Cruz, co-founder and COO. They took a trip to the Canary Islands and after several hours of research, they found a hotel that was “super beautiful and well-designed” and only cost 25 euros per person.
“We were like, why is there not one site where you can go and just find these places once. Why not curate a selection of it … and we thought that maybe we should do it,” Cruz said.
Kojzar wrote a 100-page business plan about The Poshpacker for her masters, and initially they created a “discover” type of blog to see what people thought about their idea, and to collect hotels and hostels their friends told them.
That’s exactly what The Poshpacker is right now — a curation of hostels and hotels in five continents under $100 USD (for the most part), where users can book rooms and use a free concierge service for people who can’t find what they’re looking for. They said they try and get back to people under 24 hours.
The Poshpacker was recently selected to be a part of Start-Up Chile, where they will spend six months developing their project there.
But they don’t list just any hotelier on their site. Kojzar said at The Poshpacker, they try to follow the “P’s Philosophy”: Presence, Privacy, Price, Perks, People and Place.
“Posh represents what we envision as a new travel ideology of today’s generation. Posh is the sophistication, style and design. Packer refers to the backpacker or the laid-back mentality,” Kojzar said.
Today, millennials want something that is safe, looks nice and clean, but they’re not interested in staying in well-established hotels like The Hilton. They want a more unique and authentic experience — something posh.
IMAGE BY The Poshpacker (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)
Mathilde Collin is the CEO and co-founder of Frontapp.
About six weeks ago, I was sitting in front of my computer waiting for one email. Not just any email. The email.
We had just flown from Paris to Mountain View for our 10-minute interview at the Y Combinator and it was now over. All we had left to do was wait.
Finally, a couple of hours after the interview, the news finally arrived. We were accepted. The email was so short, but it instantly changed all that we were about to do with our company in the following months.
Since that day, it pretty much has been rush hour every hour of the day and we’ve kept ourselves busy. We’ve been asked a lot how it’s going and what actually happens inside of YC once you’re there.
The famous Mountain View incubator definitely has a reputation of being quite mysterious and we want to share our insider’s view after our first month.
Kids, pack your bags, we’re moving the California!
For us, being accepted to YC was a huge excitement. But it also meant that we had to move our small team of five from Paris to the Valley.
Silicon Valley is definitely one of the best places to launch a startup, especially when you’re working in tech like we are, and we knew it.
We packed our bags and moved into the same house (we found something just a tad bigger than a garage but that’s basically the spirit). The partners at YC don’t believe in coworking spaces and consider them too distracting. That’s why they don’t provide offices for startups to settle in.
You can still come and work on their premises whenever you want, if you happen to lose internet connection at your garage-sized home.
“We think hackers are most productive when they can spend most of their time hacking. Our goal is to create an environment where you can focus exclusively on getting an initial version built.” – Y Combinator
We got two mentors to help us out along the way: Justin Kan, the founder of Justin.tv, and Garry Tan, the co-founder of Posterous. We basically turn to them every time we had doubts, questions, or just want to talk. They also help us work our way through the busy weeks and the intense weekly schedule that goes like this:
In the end though, we don’t even spend that much time inside the actual Y Combinator. We’re more often behind our computers at home. But these weekly get-togethers are here to remind us that we’re all in this together, at least until the Demo Day in mid-August, and that we have one goal and one goal only: make. things. happen.
Thanks to that, we’ve stopped complicating everything and we’ve stopped postponing the things that needed to be done.
For us as individuals
Y Combinator is really inspiring. You meet all these people that now manage really successful businesses but that were sitting exactly where you are now just a few years ago. They probably screwed up a few things, they didn’t do everything right but they are now the founders of Stripe, Airbnb, Dropbox. It makes you want to get up and work in the morning.
For our team
Y Combinator is definitely team building times a hundred. Living and working together 24/7 helps us to be focus on the things that matter and give it all we got. And when it’s all over, we’ll still share this experience together.
Hey, if we survived living in the same house for three months, we can probably survive any future crisis!
For our company
It’s pretty darn stimulating. It feels like we’ve made more progress in just one month of being here that ever before. Weekly progress is mandatory (at least a 10 percent growth). Saying that is pretty much saying everything.
On top of that though, you’re also really pushed to establish your street cred amongst your users and potential customers, investors, alumni…
It’s pretty hard to sum it up because there’s been so much but here are the tips I’m definitely taking back with me.
1. Make something people want.
It’s on t-shirts at YC because that’s how hard they believe in it. Don’t think in features but in benefits and how your product will actually make your customer become more awesome.
“ If you can do this, and you are sufficiently relentless, you can probably create more value and have more impact than you could in a regular job.” – Sam Altman
2. Don’t compare yourself to what successful entrepreneurs have become
Everyone started as small as we did. Even the most successful founders had feelings of doubts, fear or even of throwing everything out the window. They weren’t born successful entrepreneurs, they worked their butt off to get where they are today. And we can too.
3. Create features. Talk to users. That’s it.
Distractions are endless when you start a business. Grabbing a coffee with another startup founder to “share experiences,” meeting someone just to connect, seeing some investors… But what is most important at the end of the day are your users and what you can do for them.
As Paul Graham puts it, “a startup founder should be writing code and talking to users. That’s it.”
4. Charge users as quickly as possible, as much as possible
Pricing is something that gives value to your product and users will have a lot more (and valuable) feedback if they pay. It’s scary to ask for money for something that you’re not 100 percent sure will work, but you need to take the leap of faith at some point.
Also, don’t be afraid to change your pricing until you get it right.
5. Get your metrics right
It’s been said a lot but it’s because it’s important to the way you’ll run your business. Facing your metrics everyday can be scary or depressing when you don’t have a lot of users yet but it’s the only way to know if you’re growing or not and how you’re doing it. And choosing the right ones is key:
“Merely measuring something has an uncanny tendency to improve it” – Joe Kraus, founder of Excite.
6. It’s okay if everyone doesn’t love you
Like Paul Buchheit says, “it’s better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy.” Simply because it’s much easier to grow userwise than satisfactionwise.
That’s definitely something that you need to realize very early when you’re still able to iterate quickly on your product.
Y Combinator is both a sprint and a marathon. If I had to pick just one word to describe it, it would probably be intense. It’s your startup and only that, 24/7 for the three months that the batch last.
You think about it when you wake up, think about it at breakfast, lunch and dinner, you think about it when you go grocery shopping and you think about it when you go to bed. Hey, sometimes you even dream about it.
But just like in a marathon, there are plenty of people around you supporting you on your road to success. The other founders in the batch, the alums, the speakers, the partners, the investors, the Valley itself make up an atmosphere that drives you constantly to exceed what you thought you were capable of .
We’ve only been here for a month and we still have plenty of miles to go. But you’ll find us on the finish line, no doubt about that. We’ll let you know how it went.
See the rest here: A month at Y Combinator: What it’s like after you’ve been accepted
Daria Shualy is Don Draper/product marketer at daPulse.
“There’s this new Web summit in Dublin,” Eilon, my colleague, tells me. “It looks like they have some awesome speakers aligned, I really think we should go.”
“Yeah, I keep getting their emails,” I said. “They’re relentless.”
“All the participants look like potential customers for us,” Eilon continued. “Let’s get a booth.”
And thus started a month of hectic preparations. As if a six-person startup with zero paying customers at the time didn’t have anything better to do.
Our founder, Roy, designed t-shirts, I came up with an original giveaway which our designer slaved to execute, we issued new sleek business cards, bought cables to connect the screen at the booth to our computers. Then we hacked the Summit’s site for a list of all participants and crossed-referenced it with other lists we hacked from LinkedIn and AngelList to generate a new list of potential leads.
Then we started working on our pitch and demo — what we would show people coming to our booth. There were endless meetings (we never have endless meeting. Not even half-endless). We wrote dozens of tag-lines on the whiteboard, debated them, crossed them off. I was in a race against time to find an insurance company to insure me flying at eight months pregnant.
We sweated over the preparations, because like all founders, we too were told how important tech conferences are. Over the years, investors have told us tales of glory about that company that launched at that summit and got a million users within 24 hours.
The Summit in Dublin was just the new kid on the block. Despite the fact that conferences are time consuming, expensive and quite-distracting, founders make a point to attend them with new business cards, new shirts and high hopes included. In our personal survey, 66 percent of c-level founders attended up to 10 such conferences in the past two years.
We landed in Dublin on the crisp morning of October 28, the morning of the Dublin Marathon. The summit put us up at the lovely Bewley’s Hotel in Ballsbridge.
When we got to the summit itself, we were prepared: We knew our pitch perfectly. We had the list of targeted leads. We had the shirts. We had business cards that wowed everyone and cool follow-up stickers as giveaways, that got even MOO impressed. We pitched and networked and targeted and stocked. We got up early and went to bed late and stood on our feet all day long.
How many new paying customers do you think we got? If you guessed zero, you’re right.
In a survey we conducted among c-level founders, we asked about their experiences at tech-conferences in the past two years. Answers are limited to events in which they weren’t the speakers and didn’t present on a stage (but could have had a booth). The results backed up what we already knew:
Our survey shows that while most founders expected all the above, 70 percent of them never achieved any of these goals. And while 100 percent of them exchanged business cards, and over 90 percent followed up on relevant leads, more than 60 percent said nothing substantial came out of it.
Go hear some good talks! Before you get networking, attend the conference for the event itself. Have the agenda handy at all times, so if you’re in a talk and it’s boring, you can rush over to a better one. Here are some tips:
So, you added all the talks by influencers to your calendar. Now go back to the event’s lineup and add some fun events to your calendar: parties, meetups, drinkups and live concerts.
Here’s how make the best from the fun part:
And now the important part: Perfecting the pitch. A conference is like basic training for startups, so don’t be afraid to break some sweat.
Here’s how you’ll perfect your pitch by the hour:
Don’t be afraid, go ahead, meet the so-called competition. It’s a great chance to crystalize your unique value proposition. Go up to the competition, introduce yourself before you ask questions.
Share something real, it will usually be rewarded with the same behavior. Create a competitive landscape chart for yourself, and try to fit in all the other players you met at the event, who are from your field, into the chart. This will give you not only a much better understanding of how you differ and which aspects of your unique value you need to strengthen, but also a deep understand if the field you’re operating in, its trends and where its heading.
In the end, you’ll reach a far deeper understanding of what it is your own startup does.
This is the almost magical part of the process, and the reason tech conferences are so well-positioned to help you achieve this understanding: it’s the couples therapy effect.
The what? You’ve heard me! It’s called mirroring. In couples therapy, the therapist will ask one person to tell the other what they feel about something. Then they will ask the other person to repeat what they had just heard the first person saying, to which the first person will usually react with an astonished “but that’s not at all what I’ve said. How could you get that from what I’ve said?!”
This mirroring, times the number of people you did your pitch to during a conference, equals the depth of your new understanding as to what it is you do. Plus, you get the bonus of understanding how to better communicate what you do, so that others will hear exactly what you’re saying.
Yes, and this is why: Gaining a better understanding of what it is your own startup does is priceless. When you’re in the trenches, day in and day out, and can’t see past the end of your nose, understanding what your product is really about, what it is going to contribute to the world that is unique, is your single most valuable asset.
It can save you months in misdirected marketing and developing unnecessary features. A misperception of what you do, can cost you not only time, but missed funding opportunities too.
So, is that worth about $5,000? (Round trip for four, accommodation, b-cards, giveaways, insurance etc.). Well, if you measure it against – let’s say if you’re lucky - six months of salaries wasted on the wrong direction, I’d say yes.
And that’s why you should keep on going to tech conferences. Just remember what to expect, and don’t forget to have fun.
It’s hard to write a story without a protagonist, but here goes. In the past week, Tinder’s former VP of Marketing Whitney Wolfe filed a complaint with the California courts claiming that she was sexually harassed and discriminated against at work, stripped of her co-founder title, and unfairly pushed out of the company.
The challenge in telling this story, as is very common with startup origin stories, is that the truth may be far murkier than it seems.
Text-message evidence presented in the complaint appears to show abhorrent behavior from Tinder co-founder and CMO Justin Mateen, who has since been indefinitely suspended from the company. Mateen declined to cooperate with TechCrunch on this story.
It doesn’t matter to me whether Justin and Whitney were in a relationship, friends, broken up, or merely coworkers; there is absolutely no excuse for the things that Justin said in those text messages. And that’s not the only time we’ve seen bad behavior from him.
But without defending his actions, it’s important to look at the different pieces of this puzzle, especially as the case involves accusations against not just Justin, but also Tinder as a company and its majority shareholder IAC.
I’ve spoken to numerous sources who were present at the beginning stages of Tinder, most of whom wish to remain anonymous because of the lawsuit. (Tinder officially declined to comment on this story.)
At the end of 2011, Sean Rad had just left Adly and was starting to think about what he wanted to do next. He and and his best friend Mateen called then Adly CEO (and Sean’s former partner) and current Polyvore CRO Arnie Gullov-Singh to discuss various options for their next venture. They asked Gullov-Singh’s advice on marketing tactics for different ideas.
In late January 2012, Sean was hired into the Hatch Labs incubator (funded partially by IAC and partially by Xtreme Labs) as general manager under CEO Dinesh Moorjani. He was tasked with building out Cardify, a loyalty app that rewarded users points for swiping credit cards. At the time, Justin was selling off his own company SiteCanvas and looking for a new project himself.
About two weeks after Sean started work, he participated in a hackathon within Hatch, where Moorjani paired Sean with Joe Muñoz, a developer who was also working at Hatch.
Muñoz was working on an interest graph back-end that helped match people and local shops based on interests. Sean, meanwhile, had been talking about potentially building out a dating product for a while, so the two were paired together based on the compatibility of their two passion projects. Over the course of the hackathon in February, they built the first prototype of Tinder.
TechCrunch has obtained the original pitch deck from that presentation, where Tinder (then called MatchBox) was presented to Hatch Labs executives and entrepreneurs in the program. It’s dated February 16, 2012.
The man pictured in the presentation is a close friend of Sean’s, and the woman in the presentation is a close friend of Justin’s.
Whitney Wolfe wouldn’t be hired into Hatch Labs until May, and she wasn’t assigned to work on MatchBox or Tinder in any official capacity until September 2012, according to my sources.
After the hackathon in February, the Cardify/MatchBox team grew. Jonathan Badeen was hired in March to take on front-end duties, and Chris Gulczynski joined about a week later to help with design. All four of these people were working on the Cardify loyalty app at the time. Like Tinder — especially its first prototype MatchBox — Cardify’s design was inspired heavily by a deck of cards. Still, however, no swipe.
From March through April, the team often worked out of Justin’s personal office, as the Los Angeles-based Hatch offices didn’t offer the same level of resources as their NY counterpart. Justin was not a part of the Cardify team; he just provided working space.
By May 2012, Cardify was ready to be presented. Hatch and Sean were in the midst of hiring a sales team to get merchants and vendors on board, and Sean hopped onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2012 to unveil the app to the world.
One hitch: Apple wasn’t so keen on Cardify, and it took about three weeks to approve the app.
“They didn’t want to sit around and twiddle their thumbs,” said one source who had spoken with Sean at the time. “He wanted to keep working on things, and had been trying to find the time to build out MatchBox, so he and Dinesh and Adam decided to put the development team on it.”
During the waiting period in May, Muñoz, Gulczynski, Badeen and Rad all went heads down to build out MatchBox. However, they still needed marketing contractors to sell Cardify to merchants for when it was finally approved.
Right around this time, Justin met Whitney. “She was friends with a girl that Justin had been hooking up with,” a friend of Whitney’s tells me. Whitney had a long friendship with Alexa Mateen, Justin’s younger sister, who also knew Sean and was interviewing to help with sales for Cardify.
According to one source, Justin’s decision to introduce Whitney to Sean and set up Whitney and Alexa as Cardify sales reps was one of his first moves as a leader at the company, despite the fact that he wasn’t officially working on the project.
As Whitney and Alexa went out into the field to rep Cardify to merchants, Rad, Badeen, Gulczynski and Muñoz focused on MatchBox.
Whitney claims that after beginning work in May 2012, her responsibilities were focused on college campus marketing for Tinder. However, early Hatch employees claim that she was rarely even in the office where Tinder was being worked on, but rather in the field focusing on Cardify sales.
Contrary to the complaint filed with the courts, Sean and Badeen were bullish about MatchBox, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Through June and July, Tinder began to take shape. Because MatchBox was too similar to investor IAC’s Match.com nomenclature, the team went to work thinking up a new name. It was a Hatch-wide project, meaning that everyone working out of Hatch LA was in on the exercise. That included folks like Hatch Labs manager of engineering Ryan Ogle, Hatch co-founder Adam Huie, co-founder and Hatch CEO Moorjani and the Cardify sales team.
The Tinder flame had already been designed by Gulczynski, so the key was to keep the focus on the flame. FLRT was an option, and MatchBox was still in the running as a backup. Multiple sources disagree on who came up with the name, with Munõz, Wolfe, and Badeen all listed as possibilities.
On August 2, the app was ready for prime time. Tinder soft-launched into the App Store, and Sean started the process of bringing on Justin officially. At first, he was contracted temporarily to lead marketing efforts around the launch for two months.
As one of his first moves, he lobbied to have Whitney and Alexa shift focus from Cardify and help him with his marketing plan for college campuses. They were currently reporting to Yvonne Orillac, who was Cardify’s sales lead, who also declined to comment on the story.
In the complaint, Whitney claims she then left on a marketing trip to her alma mater, SMU, and Utah, where she grew up, to “unveil” the Tinder app. A friend of hers at the time tells us that the trip was primarily to visit someone Whitney had been romantically interested in, not to market Tinder.
In either case, Whitney alleges that Justin, who had just been hired, bumped into her before she left on her business trip and announced he had recently joined the team. However, according to our sources, Justin had already been working on the marketing of Tinder, which included the reassignment of Whitney herself.
“I had a long string of emails with Justin about Tinder marketing in early September,” said Gullov-Singh, the same person that Sean and Justin had gone to for advice before Cardify even existed. “He was excited about implementing a plan around guerrilla marketing and hitting college campuses for events, just like he had done in college.”
When Sean and Justin were attending USC, Justin ran a company called MW Entertainment. He and his partner Jaspar Wier threw parties, booked entertainment, got brand sponsors and charged admission tickets; it ended up being a pretty profitable business.
“Justin and I were partners in a promotion business in college, putting on events across Los Angeles for USC students,” said Wier. “Justin developed and executed a marketing strategy that would target and engage the influencers. For us, this meant individually approaching the fraternities and sororities at USC to announce each event, and personally reach out to anyone we considered ‘influential.’ This was done with the intent to gain exposure and popularity amongst the people we considered to be ‘early adopters’ who would bring everyone else to the events.”
“From our sophomore year to our senior year, Justin would hold these huge parties and it was really impressive,” said an old friend of Justin’s in college. “He made a lot of money doing it, too.”
After Justin’s sister Alexa told him about Whitney’s trip, he gave her advice to employ the same strategy he had used in college. According to friends, Justin gave Whitney clear instructions for the SMU marketing blitz: get 10 girls on the app before ever going to a sorority, so that they see that other attractive people are on the platform.
At the time, Tinder already had a couple of thousand users because of Justin’s assault on his friends, according to a source very familiar with the company at the time.
“I remember one night, a few weeks before Tinder’s big USC launch party, he text messaged three hundred of his friends in a single night and told them to download Tinder,” said a friend of Justin.
An article in GQ confirms this: “Justin ran individual campaigns to encourage people to sign up. He would text each person personally. He targeted what he called ‘social influencers,’ avoiding the ‘awkward crowd’ of people probably most in need of a new way to make friends.”
After returning from her trip to SMU and Utah, Whitney attended the official Tinder launch party referenced above. It was planned by Justin, and held at his parents’ house on September 29. His younger brother, Tyler, was still in attendance at USC and helped get a big group to show up. Hundreds of people flocked to the pool party, complete with inflatable water slide and a massive Tinder sign hanging off of the roof. And all of them were armed with the Tinder app. That was the only way to get in.
One source who was in attendance told us that Whitney left “about halfway through.”
Similar to Whitney’s claim, multiple sources agree that her relationship with Justin began around or after the holiday season in 2012. And by the end of 2012, Hatch had shuttered as planned and Tinder had begun to stand on its own two feet. The company incorporated in April of 2013, which is when equity was split among employees, just as Whitney states in her claim.
“They were in love,” said one source familiar with the couple. “Even early on, she was talking about wanting to end up with him.”
In the complaint, Whitney claims that Justin pursued a relationship with her. However, multiple sources indicate that she expressed interest in a relationship with Justin before they started dating.
Obviously, the company continued to grow. Quickly, too. Media outlets all over were interested in the hot new dating game called Tinder. Sean and Justin took plenty of interviews. And so did Whitney.
In one interview that was published more recently (the same GQ article referenced above), both Whitney Wolfe and Justin Mateen discuss the origins of Tinder together, and from the article itself, it seems that both played an instrumental role in the marketing of Tinder on college campuses. It’s almost as if they were a tag team. Still, the same article credits Justin with the experience and know-how of event marketing on campuses, as well as hiring reps from local areas.
Inspired in part by the path of Facebook, which launched first at elite colleges, Justin turned not just to the Ivy League but to schools known for their good parties. After seeding USC, Justin and Whitney traveled to schools like SMU in Dallas. Whitney might stand on a table in a fraternity and announce that there were 200 hot sorority girls on the app waiting for the men to sign up, then run to the sorority and tell them the reverse. They left a trail of stickers behind them—in the best campus bars, in the most exclusive nightclubs.
One Tinder employee tells me that Justin and Sean regularly wove in the names of Chris Gulczynski and Jon Badeen as co-founders of the project — Muñoz (who didn’t respond to request for comment) had already left the company to pursue other things.
When Whitney did interviews, she repeatedly asked Sean to let her go by “co-founder,” claiming that the press would take her more seriously if she had that title, according to people in the office.
According to my sources, Sean and Whitney were incredibly close friends (after all, she was dating his best friend and they all worked together) and he did, in fact, give in a number of times.
“Sean knew she wasn’t a founder… we all knew she wasn’t a founder,” one source said on the phone. “But he wanted to help her career, and he knew that having female representation in the press could only be a good thing for the company.”
I personally saw a message from June that Whitney sent to a colleague wherein she says she’ll be using VP of Marketing on her business card, without mention of the title co-founder.
Still, Whitney’s claim includes a business card with the co-founder title on it. According to sources, the business cards were handled by junior designer Sarah Mick, who emailed the company asking for everyone’s titles. I’m told by a Tinder employee that everyone, save Chris Gulczynski, responded to Sarah Mick directly (without CC’ing the rest of the employees) to give their title information.
One employee even recounted an instance in which Whitney said that she knew she wasn’t supposed to be using “co-founder” in her email signature, but would continue to do so until Sean found out.
Shortly after, other members of the early Tinder team also wanted co-founder titles. Folks like Chris Gulczynski and Alexa Mateen, who had been there just as long if not longer than Whitney, were wondering why they didn’t have the same designation, according to an early Tinder employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
The icing on the cake was the actual article Whitney cites in her claim, where Harper’s Bazaar calls her “the woman who invented Tinder.” According to multiple people on the Tinder PR team, Whitney
secured coverage for that article on her own and misled the journalist to the point where the PR team had to repeatedly ask for corrections to the article. It has also been confirmed that Whitney went behind the backs of other leadership at the company with the publication of that story.
Correction: After a quick call with my source on this, Whitney did not secure the Harper’s Bazaar story on her own, though did push Tinder PR to get her connected with the media outlet.
Meanwhile, employees recount Jonathan Badeen, who had been there from the very beginning and was rarely mentioned by the press, seeming noticeably discouraged by the article.
One employee, who was present in a meeting between Sean and Whitney, says that after the Harper’s Bazaar article and a couple of others like it, Sean explained that Whitney should not have been using the term co-founder in the press because it was causing confusion with the media and internally at Tinder.
“It was never part of her actual title within the company, on business cards or email signatures,” said the witness to the meeting. “At least it shouldn’t have been. He thought it would be good for Whitney and for Tinder, but once it started causing problems for so many people, I guess he realized he should have never let it happen in the first place. Even just for the press.”
That same witness says that Whitney sent a series of messages to Sean shortly following the article’s publication in which she expresses that she knew she wasn’t supposed to be going by co-founder for that article.
Throughout most of 2013, Whitney and Justin were dating as the app grew like wildfire. At first, the relationship was a secret to most of the company, but employees found out officially at a company event in June.
“I was a little bit worried about Justin and Whitney, just because I wasn’t quite sure if they should be dating while they’re working together like that,” said a close friend of Justin’s. “But Justin was so happy, and Whitney told me how much she loved him and that she wanted to end up with him and have babies with him. They looked happy, so I left it alone.”
As Whitney suggests in the complaint, the relationship runs into turbulence in the fall of 2013.
Friends of both Whitney and Justin say that the couple had issues with the amount of time Justin spent focusing on Tinder. An employee at a lunch near the Tinder office in October heard Justin say to Whitney that Tinder would always come first.
Still, the details around any official breakup are unclear. Whitney’s complaint states that they were completely over as of December 12, 2013, though friends of Whitney tell me that they continued sending romantic messages alongside hateful ones (the same type you see in the complaint evidence). According to a friend of Justin’s, they continued to have sex fairly regularly through February of 2014.
According to one friend, Whitney said over text messages that she loved Justin and couldn’t stop thinking about him. This was also in December.
None of my sources, a number of Justin and Whitney’s friends as well as Tinder employees, can agree on even a general time that Justin and Whitney broke up. One member of the media, who interviewed Whitney for a story, remembers Whitney saying repeatedly that Justin had broken up with her in the fall of 2013. Some agree on a period around December or January where they were not together, and one even recounts talking to Whitney while she was on a trip to Aspen for Christmas.
The friend said that she was excited Whitney was moving on from Justin now that she had met someone new in Aspen, a man named Michael Herd, with whom she continued a romantic relationship. Michael Herd is the grandson of Bob Herd, and the vice president of Herd Producing Co., an oil company that owns and operates over 400 wells in Louisiana and East Texas.
Though few sources agree on a definite breakup date, many do agree that one of the last times that Justin and Whitney had sex was on February 3, after a Tinder party thrown by Glamour magazine. Witnesses at the party say that Whitney was heavily intoxicated, notably interested in Justin, and even stating out loud: “I’m going to fuck you tonight, Justin.”
A friend of Justin’s who drove Justin home from the party recounted the story to me:
Whitney called Justin and said that people were harassing her or robbing her apartment or something. She said she needed help, so Justin made me drive all the way out to her house to see what was going on. When we got there, nothing was wrong. She didn’t know I was there, and she opened the door naked waiting for Justin. He stayed there that night.
Between February and late March, the status of the relationship between Whitney and Justin was still slightly unclear. One employee remembers an instance in which Whitney approached Justin in a very heated manner and began discussing personal issues in the office.
“Justin kept telling her not to do this in the office, but she wouldn’t let up,” said the employee. “Eventually, Alexa Mateen stood up and told Whitney to not to discuss personal drama in the office. Whitney told her that if she ever got involved again, she would kill her.”
In another instance during this period, Whitney claims that she experienced inappropriate treatment from Justin in front of Josh Metz, the new marketing manager. According to employees at the company, Whitney was later asked about the incident in front of Josh, Justin, Sean and a couple other employees at a marketing meeting and admitted to all of them that she had lied about the fight entirely, realizing that Metz wouldn’t corroborate her story.
Whether Whitney actually lied about the incident, or simply felt pressured to say that she did, is unclear.
Between February and March, two separate sources say that Whitney was considering taking legal action. Whitney’s lawyer, David Lowe, would not comment on whether or not Michael Herd is one of his clients, but he did say unequivocally that Herd is not footing Whitney’s legal bills.
On the evening of the Tinder Malibu party on April 6, friends of Justin say that he had just found out about an affair Whitney had allegedly had with another man while they were together. Whitney knew that he had found out, and was anxious about attending the party, according to one of her close friends.
“When Whitney arrived at the party, she walked through the house flailing her arms and being very boisterous,” said another witness. “She was inside and I was outside so I couldn’t hear her, but there were big glass walls so I could see her coming. Once she was outside, she was screaming about how they were all conspiring against her and talking shit about her.”
By “they,” this witness is referring to a small group of people who were talking in the grass in the backyard, including Sean, Justin, Alexa Dell (Sean’s girlfriend) and Alexa Mateen.
“Alexa Dell and Alexa Mateen went inside and then Whitney started getting physical with Justin,” said a separate source who witnessed the fight. “She was yelling, and then finally Sean tried to separate them.”
None of the four sources who witnessed the scene ever saw or heard Justin call Whitney a “whore,” as she alleges in the complaint. If he did it, he did it quietly. Eventually, Sean asked Whitney to leave the party after Justin removed himself from the situation, and as Whitney was exiting, she stopped in the kitchen.
No one is clear on how the altercation escalated, but Whitney ended up pulling the hair and clothing of Sean’s girlfriend, and to “get free of Whitney,” she spit at her, one witness tells me.
“Whitney kept saying ‘I’m done with all of this’ and ‘I’m done with all of you,’” said another witness at the party.
By all accounts, that is remembered by the majority of the Tinder staff as the night Whitney quit. In her complaint, she claims that she was forced out by CEO Sean Rad, though it seems like her actions on the night of that party in April were taken as a resignation.
As I said at the very beginning of this long story, we have no real protagonist.
There is no excuse for the language attributed to Justin within those text messages in the complaint. No matter the status of their relationship throughout any of it, my opinion is that it was irresponsible to date a subordinate and even less responsible to let the dramatic unfolding of that relationship’s implosion fizzle into the company they both helped to build.
Whatever might have been instigated by Whitney, it’s my belief that, as the superior in the professional relationship, dealing with the personal side of their situation was his responsibility.
From the dozens of stories I’ve heard over the past week, it seems clear that Whitney Wolfe and Justin Mateen had a turbulent, emotional and dramatic personal relationship. Whether she was cheating on him, provoking him or otherwise, I can’t personally show any tolerance whatsoever for Justin letting that relationship potentially affect the workplace. He was, after all, the superior.
Meanwhile, Sean Rad seems to have made his own mistakes. It appears that he got too close to employees on a number of levels. There have been some statements from early employees like Muñoz that indicate Sean’s friendship with Justin affected the latter’s role at the company. But multiple sources expressed that Mateen played an important role in the early success of the app, despite their friendship.
Still, the decision to let Whitney use the term co-founder in the press was probably a bad one. The decision to take it away, as Whitney states in her complaint happened, is potentially even worse. Information from multiple sources, as outlined above, indicates that she may not have contributed as much to Tinder’s early success as she suggests. There’s also evidence pointing to the fact that she may have used the term co-founder behind the backs of other founders and against their wishes, which adds even more fog to the situation.
To bestow the title and take it away again (in any capacity) might have been a mistake that Sean made out of naivety or even good intentions, perhaps to have a female representative of the company out in the press or to help foster Whitney’s career, but it seems like a rookie mistake that may have very grown-up consequences.
Another core complaint that Whitney has against Tinder is the inaction of Sean Rad in response to complaints about Mateen’s behavior. Whitney provides no actual evidence within the complaint that shows inaction from Rad. In fact, within the complaint, she mentions to a friend on April 1 that she has yet to talk to Sean about problems with Justin. That was five days before the Malibu party.
Whitney Wolfe’s complaint paints a picture of a company led by sexists who never wanted her to succeed. According to the accounts I’ve heard, that simply isn’t the case.
I spoke to more than a dozen sources for this story. Not one told me that Whitney spearheaded a campaign to shift focus from Cardify to Tinder. Not one could say definitively who came up with the name. Not one ever told me they saw Sean Rad (or Justin Mateen, for that matter) treat her inappropriately or with disrespect in the office. Most importantly, not one told me that she should be considered a co-founder of Tinder.
With the co-founder claim, there is quite a bit to consider. In many ways, the term co-founder doesn’t mean much. It’s not always the person who comes up with an idea that brings it to fruition. Just ask Reggie Brown or the Winklevii. And in the case of Tinder, Sean Rad actually did come up with the idea. Co-founder isn’t a legal term included in term sheets and equity documents. In essence, it’s a marketing term.
However, legally speaking, if Whitney were a rightful co-founder who was stripped of that title without reason or cause, then Tinder could be in for a world of hurt.
“It’s not about the validity of the position of co-founder as much as it’s about the perception that she might have been demoted,” attorney Eric Broutman from the Abrams Fensterman law firm told TechCrunch. “The term co-founder brings more prestige, so if it was taken from her unfairly then the claim may be valid.”
Yet, it seems that Whitney was well aware that her use of the term co-founder was for the purposes of doing press for the company and not because she actually co-founded the company. Why else would she ask once to use the title co-founder, all the way back in January of 2013 (as shown in the evidence attached in the complaint), and then again sometime after June when iOS 7 was released?
That’s not to say her early contributions around marketing Tinder with Justin and Alexa Mateen weren’t important to the success of Tinder, but the fact that these conversations played out adds some gray area to the question of whether or not she was unfairly stripped of her title.
It’s easy to see the story of Whitney Wolfe vs. Tinder as yet another cut-and-dried case of alleged sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. But it’s far more nuanced than that.
The case merges two relatively separate issues — discrimination and harassment allegations against Mateen and unfair termination and discrimination allegations against Tinder — making it that much harder to untangle the truth of what happened.
But from what I’ve learned, a few things are unmistakably clear: From the very beginning, Tinder appears to have fostered a company culture that left employees in incredibly close, personal relationships. Rather than maturing as the company grew, the line between professional and personal in this culture apparently became increasingly thin.
Putting the bad behavior of any parties aside, this alone can destroy a company. And it’s unclear in Tinder’s case whether this fire will eventually burn it down.
IMAGE BY Shutterstock
Read more: Burned
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Scan, a company that’s trying to link physical businesses to users with QR codes, is stepping into the identity and payments space.
The new version of Scan’s app adds a ‘Code Wallet’ that can be used to store codes you scan or use a lot. It can also store your personal identity code, which you can generate on the device.
In fact, every user of Scan, over 75 million of them so far, will have a personal QR code available to them once they’ve updated the app. This code effectively acts as an identity that they can use to direct people to social media profiles, Instagram accounts, personal webpages and more.
Scan founder Garrett Gee says that this should lower the barrier for people who may have never understood that they could use QR codes to create an easily transferrable identity before.
And incorporating the scan-to-pay technology they debuted late last year, users will be able to offer that code to others to accept payments directly. Friend owe you a couple of bucks? Just have them scan your code and shoot you the money.
As an example, here’s the Scan page of Serena Martineau, a freelance photographer using Scan to promote her business and accept payments directly.
Scan has raised a total of $15.2 million from Entree, Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Start Fund, Social + Capital Partnership, Transmedia Capital, Ludlow Ventures and angels Ariel Poler, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Jim Pallotta of Raptor Group and Troy Carter.
Scan is still one of the most popular code readers in the App Store, and sees around 50,000 new installs a day. Scan introduced its business pages in 2012 and now sees 150,000 of them using its website to create and manage codes. There are around 80,000 codes used on the site daily. Though Scan also reads barcodes for price checking, Gee recently told me that around 65 percent of the scans on iOS devices were of QR codes.
Each of those codes is linked to an action of some sort, which is really at the heart of what Scan has been bringing to the table. There have been countless misuses of QR code technology, but some of the most egregious mistakes have resided in not giving people a discrete action to take upon scanning.
If you scan a code and are dumped out onto a website with no focused purpose, you’ve already been failed by the creator of that code. By creating a framework for businesses, and now individuals, to deliver users to a focused experience, Scan is putting QR tech’s best foot forward.
Scan has its work cut out for it if it wants to be an identity provider of any sort. But it’s a space that’s ripe for innovation, so I’m interested to see how this pans out. Digital identity is one of the biggest unsolved issues we have and I expect that pretty much all of the majors will make a play for the space very soon. Dabbling in trying to figure that out — and pushing forward its philosophy of linking digital and physical spaces — seems like a good direction for Scan.
Ironically, one of the best things that could happen to a company like Scan is for someone like Apple to include code-reading functionality in the stock camera. Being Sherlocked could actually boost Scan’s business enormously. Scan’s secret sauce, after all, is in how it handles the actions after scan, not necessarily the scan itself.
Of course, there are other opportunities here, given the proliferation of beacons driving hyper-local, contextually accurate interactions. Gee says that Scan is working with beacon technology but doesn’t have anything to share at the moment.
And, it’s important to note, beacons don’t have the years of misuse behind them that have contributed to making QR codes such a technological punchline.
The app is available for both iOS and Android here.
Read the original: Scan Makes A QR Identity Play
Yahoo’s spring cleanings have extended into the summer months, the company announced today, detailing a series of product changes and closures, many of which are nearly obsolete, obscure, or just unpopular. But among the more high-profile of these closures is Yahoo acquisition Xobni, the maker of smart email and contacts management apps that were acquired last summer.
At the time of the acquisition announcement, Yahoo said people using Xobni’s products would be able to continue to do so “indefinitely.” However, in today’s post, the company points to a FAQ on the Xobni website, implying that the product’s total shutdown was previously announced. That may confuse the handful of remaining Xobni users who may have thought that as long as they had the Xobni Smartr app installed, for instance, it would continue to work even though it was no longer being actively developed or supported.
But according to this new post, today is Xobni’s last day.
Yahoo buys then kills a startup? That’s not really news, I suppose. And at least Xobni’s complete and total death was held off for a full year.
Other products getting the boot (or that already got the boot and you didn’t notice!) include a virtual makeover tool called Newlook, Yahoo Finance’s “research reports” feature, Bookmarks.yahoo.com, Yahoo People Search (bundled into Yahoo Search), Yahoo Toolbar on Chrome (replaced by Yahoo’s Chrome extension), Yahoo Shine (replaced by new magazines, Yahoo Beauty and Travel), Yahoo Voices, and the Yahoo Contributor Network. The last four in that list have yet to close, with the Toolbar dying off on July 22, while the remaining products will live until the end of the month.
It’s not surprising for Yahoo to cut its non-performing products, as the company is trying to “further its focus” on core experiences – Search, Communications, Digital Magazines and Video – as it says today. This is also not the first time Yahoo has made the decision to eliminate items from its overly large lineup – it did the same in March and April 2013, today’s announcement also notes.