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None of the many men I spoke to had mentioned her name.
July 3, 2014 3:24 PM   Subscribe

"At one point, Whitney Wolfe was promoted as Tinder’s “inventor” and co-founder in fashion magazines like Harper’s Bazaar. She named the app, and her marketing savvy was often cited as the reason it found an audience among young women. Her role in the company was widely touted as an exception to male-dominated startup culture. According to the lawsuit, [Justin] Mateen told Wolfe, who was 24 years old at the time, that “he was taking away her ‘Co-Founder’ title because having a young female co-founder ‘makes the company seem like a joke’ and ‘devalues’ the company.” Mateen had also been designated a co-founder of the company despite joining after the fact, and argued that Wolfe’s title undermined him." Tinder Co-founder files sexual harassment lawsuit.

The truth about Tinder and women is even worse than you think:

"This conduct would be abhorrent directed at anyone. What gives these allegations even greater sting is Wolfe’s contention that she was not just any employee but a Tinder co-founder — and was stripped of the designation as a result of the treatment she endured. This isn’t just adding insult to injury; it’s adding injury to injury, since a co-founder of a hot startup can be expected to attract better career opportunities than someone who was a mere early employee.

Was Whitney Wolfe a co-founder of Tinder? I think the answer exposes a different, quieter, but no less punishing form of the sexism that is pervasive in the startup world."
posted by emptythought (94 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm hoping for a story about somebody in the latest Bay Area tech startup feeding frenzy who is not a douchebag and does not eventually devolve into douchebaggery. There's got to be somebody.
posted by at by at 3:36 PM on July 3 [19 favorites]


The sexual harassment alleged here is horrible, no doubt about it. Personally, I'd like to see the entire co-founder title go away as an important thing. People come and go through startups. Some of them make the place a lot worse and others make it a lot better. Employee #6 who built a killer feature one weekend might have done 10,000 times more for the company than employee #2 who had a shitty idea and decided to play startup with his buddy one day.

Evaluate people on their contributions and their efforts, not a shifting co-founder title and certainly not their fucking gender.
posted by zachlipton at 3:37 PM on July 3 [8 favorites]


The fact that the harassment is documented, and she told the CEO, and the exec at the parent company, and the harassment continued, and she was canned ...

Tinder or IAC should pray their out of court settlement offer is accepted.
posted by zippy at 3:37 PM on July 3 [28 favorites]


Some guys from their frat went to law school, it's all good
posted by thelonius at 3:39 PM on July 3 [16 favorites]


I'm hoping for a story about somebody in the latest Bay Area tech startup feeding frenzy...

I'm being somewhat pedantic, but Tinder is based out of West Hollywood.
posted by sideshow at 3:40 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


this will involve a nice juicy settlement.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:41 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


zachlipton: Without Wolfe, there probably would not be a Tinder - the accounts I've read have noted that she was instrumental in getting the necessary critical user mass.

So if you want to just focus on contributions, it's clear that Wolfe was on the wrong end of a screw job by Rad and his buddy.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:48 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Startups can be innovative in a lot of ways, but it looks like this one is keeping their sexism old school:
Mateen was only then hired by his longtime friend Rad, as chief marketing officer—Wolfe’s superior. Wolfe had been at the IAC incubator, Hatch Labs, since May 2012, working on projects that were shelved when the team sensed Tinder was its best shot at a breakthrough success. In her lawsuit, Wolfe says she was the one who suggested the name “Tinder” to Rad.

“She never got credit for [her contributions],” Munoz told me. “She never got credit for it. It got taken away, and marginalized in favor of the friend.”
Isn't it funny how so many self-made men are anything but? It's almost as though it's a convenient fiction they make into a sweater to keep the cognitive dissonance out.
posted by Ouverture at 3:49 PM on July 3 [59 favorites]


"Don't let co-founders date" is the new "don't mix money and family."
posted by michaelh at 3:49 PM on July 3


having a young female co-founder ‘makes the company seem like a joke’ and ‘devalues’ the company.

Irony : he was right, and it was his fault, too.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:51 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


this will involve a nice juicy settlement.

I want to ask the lawyer who got this case how long it took for her to stop laughing, because it just doesn't get easier than this. It's like they were following a textbook on how to maximize damages:
  1. Dating subordinate
  2. After bad breakup, demote subordinate, threaten further job consequences, and harass subordinate.
  3. Strip subordinate of attribution already described in detail in major media publications.
  4. Ignore subordinate's reports of mistreatement, fire subordinate for complaining
  5. Carry out all of the above via a medium allowing infinite reproducibility
And let's stop calling it a startup, because it isn't, but IAC wants to pretend it is. They hired Mateen and Rad to launch a faux-startup and to present themselves as a startup with a backer. The question this raises is: what's IAC's liability for Mateen and Rad's wrongdoing?
posted by fatbird at 3:51 PM on July 3 [34 favorites]


I have a feeling that question is why the IAC legal staff won't be having a Happy Fourth this year.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:54 PM on July 3


Sorry, to clarify: IAC hired Rad, and Rad later hired Mateen and installed him in the position in which he'd launch a thousand causes of action.

This phenomenon of faux-startups is starting to become an issue in the Valley, apparently. Young, hungry entrepeneurs are getting angry trying to find real startups with real equity available, rather than fake startups where there was never any real stake left when it launched.
posted by fatbird at 3:54 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Fatbird, I'd like to hear more about that.
posted by michaelh at 3:55 PM on July 3 [6 favorites]


Yea, that sounds like it could be an interesting FPP in and of itself if you have some links.
posted by emptythought at 3:58 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


I'll see what I can come up with. The Businessweek story above touches on it, and comments on HN go into a bit more detail about large companies like IAC rebranding skunkworks via "incubators" where the backers are the incubator itself, thus keeping it all in-house.
posted by fatbird at 4:02 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Sexism in tech?! Well, I never!
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:02 PM on July 3


boy oh silicon boy, this shit again?
posted by Dashy at 4:03 PM on July 3


Awesome comment by an HN regular, responding to predictable gnashing of teeth about how startups need rules like "3 people in the room at all times" because no one is safe from mumblemumblemumble:
Look at the numbers. There are still pay equity issues all over the place, but in terms of participation, every other white collar industry puts technology to shame. 66% of staff attorneys are women. ~40% of biglaw partners are. And in law, 40% is a problem. In technology, it would be a dream.
posted by fatbird at 4:09 PM on July 3 [20 favorites]


As I recall, there was an article not too long ago about how Asian-Americans are systematically excluded from startups because they make investors "nervous" or something.

Libertarianism will inevitably dash itself upon the rocks of sexism and racism.
posted by Avenger at 4:11 PM on July 3 [10 favorites]


I had found out that his[Rad's] first startup, a messaging service called Orgoo, had been shut down after an FBI investigation into users storing and transmitting child pornography on its servers.

That'll look good on the resume....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:13 PM on July 3


Valleywag has the actual texts. Spoiler alert: they're pretty terrible.

Also, memo to Silicon Valley: Just because you call it "pattern matching", a computer science term from machine learning, doesn't make it different than stereotyping and prejudice. You're not fooling anyone but yourselves.
posted by mhum at 4:13 PM on July 3 [13 favorites]


These guys are fuckin' morons business wise, you put your female co-founder front and center and look golden. 24 y/o? Even better.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:28 PM on July 3 [6 favorites]


holy shit the texts
posted by thelonius at 4:29 PM on July 3 [9 favorites]


God, fuck this industry
posted by oceanjesse at 4:50 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


"God, fuck this industry"

The whole industry? So judge the many by the actions of a few?
posted by I-baLL at 4:59 PM on July 3


Oh man, don't read the comments to the Bloomberg article. So much hate.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 5:01 PM on July 3


No. Not by just a few. Thanks for playing misogynist bingo!
posted by futz at 5:02 PM on July 3 [44 favorites]


#NotAllTech (but really, it's a systemic issue and the "few" keep being the douchebag dudebros at the top, so yeah, i feel pretty ok judging the industry for these repeated failures)
posted by nadawi at 5:02 PM on July 3 [18 favorites]


I must've missed out on something. I keep seeing people on here saying that the tech industry is sexist but I rarely see any evidence of it except for a few bad apples. Can anybody show me some links?
posted by I-baLL at 5:04 PM on July 3


Best one-liner against #notallmen: "not all men but too fucking many."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:07 PM on July 3 [30 favorites]


Holy shit, in addition to everything else they've been called, those texts are really embarrassing. I hadn't seen them when i whipped up this post.

Like, wow dude, such hard, much man. He sounds like a whiny, arrogant, overly cocky high school kid who thinks he's gods gift to women. And i'm not saying that because he uses textspeak or anything. It's not the phrasing that's embarrassing so much as the overall message. jesus christ. Dude sounds like a baby.

The whole industry? So judge the many by the actions of a few?

Do you work in tech? Do you know many people who do? It's like one of the most manbrodude environments you can possibly imagine. All the terrible misogynistic reddit posts you can find have to be written by someone, and that's generally what they all do for work.

If you go to any event populated by a high number of men who work in tech, and you're a guy so they feel "safe" saying stuff around you that they don't think is wrong, but have just enough self awareness to know not to say everywhere all the time... you will hear some awful shit. Not only is the ratio of men to women hilariously bad, but the type of men it attracts, the attitudes it encourages, and the people it pushes to the top like this generally hold really fucked up views about women.

Someone may find you some links, but i don't think there's any particularly good reason to disbelieve the people on here who repeatedly state that they've watched people be assholes, and express shitty attitudes shockingly often.

I mean like, examine why you think people would be exaggerating it or making it up? What would be their hypothetical motivation to say that if it wasn't true?

It's bad enough that every time i meet new people who are nerdy(usually white) dudes who work in some tech-related field i end up going "These guys seem pretty alright" and then fairly quickly going "...oh" when one of them makes some totally beyond the pale comment or rape joke or whatever and everyone just laughs or at least nods along like it's completely ordinary.
posted by emptythought at 5:10 PM on July 3 [40 favorites]


I-ball, meet Google:

Let's try it the other way: can you provide citations to demonstrate the gender equality in terms of representation and pay in the tech industry?
posted by Dashy at 5:12 PM on July 3 [16 favorites]


I thought this field was full of the best and the brightest, so why is it so rife with douchebaggery? It's not even new and exciting douchebaggery never before seen by ordinary people: It's your run-of-the-mill old-skool bullshit.

Where are all the smart people again? Why should I listen to how very important all these people are and how awesome this field is, when they can't do a very simple thing - which is to not be fratboy assholes? It's systemic and it's normalized, and we're supposed to take them seriously? Are they, like, awkward or something? Come on.
posted by rtha at 5:13 PM on July 3 [12 favorites]


I-ball, you have been a member since 2004. Have you been paying attention? Many many posts on mefi have highlighted the inherent sexism in Tech and startups. Asking us to show you examples is another win on my bingo card.
posted by futz at 5:13 PM on July 3 [15 favorites]


> The whole industry? So judge the many by the actions of a few?

Yes. Only a few.

For fuck's sake, that page has a timeline of incidents broken down by month, with a July 2014 section that already has two things in it. May I remind you July is about 72 hours old.

This whole fucking industry is broken. If you — like me — work in the tech industry, you — like me — are culpable. This shit is endemic, it pervades our industry at all levels.

Only a few my ass. Shouldn't one be too many?
posted by jacobian at 5:16 PM on July 3 [38 favorites]


now that he's gotten his citation, maybe we can move beyond that point...
posted by nadawi at 5:18 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


There's a special convergence in Silicon Valley that lends itself to these kinds of problems. It's heavily male, young, middle and upper class, and it's continually juiced from a money tap run by rich older men promising to let those stallions join their ranks if they just slave away for a few years, moving fast and breaking things, and disrupting disrupting disrupting. In other words, take people who are relatively immature and unused to dealing with the consequences of their choices, and reward them for failing to grow up. What happens? A lot of shitty behaviour that's deliberately resistant to the kind of social norms we're continuing keeping in place and building upon.
posted by fatbird at 5:19 PM on July 3 [64 favorites]


except for a few bad apples

I hate it when people misuse this idiom.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:21 PM on July 3 [21 favorites]


Fatbird, that is a brilliant breakdown.
posted by perilous at 5:22 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I read the texts (ugh), and -- Wolfe was incredibly composed in creating / maintaining boundaries with that twit. She comes across very well there. Impressive.
posted by Dashy at 5:23 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


> except for a few bad apples

Also, I-ball, do you even know what the whole idiom is?

"A few bad apples spoil the bunch."

The idea being, basically, that if you've got a big bunch of yummy apples, just one or two rotten ones will infect the whole damn bushel to the point where you've got to throw it out. So even if you were right and it was "just a few", well, the whole damn bunch is spoiled.
posted by jacobian at 5:25 PM on July 3 [43 favorites]


Dashy - yeah, it's amazing that these dudes don't recognize when to shut up just by her demeanor in those texts. they must have really felt protected in their position. i hope she gets a giant stack of money.
posted by nadawi at 5:27 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


Those texts were actually worse than I could have possibly imagined. Wow.
posted by rtha at 5:45 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


As nadawi says, he must have felt really protected in his position. I cannot imagine feeling like sending those texts to a COLLEAGUE at WORK was a good, safe move.
posted by KathrynT at 5:47 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


Reading those texts makes me dearly hope to see that waste of oxygen publicly fired by his new female boss while he is repeatedly punched in the balls by a trained kangaroo.
posted by Mooski at 6:00 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


The whole industry? So judge the many by the actions of a few?

I have long said that most of the folks in technology got here because we enjoyed spending time with computers -- more than we enjoy spending time with people, in many cases, particularly those people who get good enough to stand out. So we're not the strongest communicators or the most sensitive or really the people with the greatest emotional intelligence. That more boys/men have ended up in this field than girls/women isn't really surprising to me, but I couldn't articulate why. And those texts, ugh.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:42 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


A big signal that this guy wasn't the strongest technical person in the organization is that he sent his poison via text messages -- which can be forwarded, printed, screen-grabbed, saved, etc., etc. What a maroon.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:44 PM on July 3


Even if those texts were not horribly harassing, abusive and sexist I would hope she would still sue him for his atrocious spelling and use of 'ur' instead of 'your'.

And quite apart from that, I am appalled that anyone stupid enough to use text messages to sexually harass their subordinate (giving their victim verifiable, timestamped records of their unlawful conduct) is top level management at a multi-hundred million dollar company. I shouldn't be, but I am.

Just because you're successful, just because you're clever, doesn't mean that you're sensible.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:44 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


I-ball, meet Google:

Let's try it the other way: can you provide citations to demonstrate the gender equality in terms of representation and pay in the tech industry?
posted by Dashy at 8:12 PM on July 3 [4 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


This comment is full of wins.
posted by sweetkid at 6:45 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


I have long said that most of the folks in technology got here because we enjoyed spending time with computers -- more than we enjoy spending time with people, in many cases, particularly those people who get good enough to stand out.

Then how do you explain the brosapian infestation in the tech/upstart industry? These aren't awkward stereotypical nerds. These guys are putting themselves front and center for their pet project. Maybe they are using guys like you to climb whatever ladder that spells success to them? These guys are a far cry from dudes who feel more comfortable with thier puters than people.
posted by futz at 7:00 PM on July 3 [7 favorites]


And I agree with most of what you said!
posted by futz at 7:01 PM on July 3


I don't really know where the Bro thing comes from. Most of the programmers I work with (not in Silicon Valley) are pretty much the same old stereotypes.
posted by smackfu at 7:03 PM on July 3


I mean, I don't know why bro tech startups are a thing now.
posted by smackfu at 7:11 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


brogrammers are totally a thing.
posted by nadawi at 7:11 PM on July 3


ack lack of preview. yeah - it's pretty insidious and i wish it would stop already.
posted by nadawi at 7:12 PM on July 3


Then how do you explain the brosapian infestation in the tech/upstart industry? These aren't awkward stereotypical nerds.

They are nerds, it's just that now that having nerdy interests is "cool" and makes you rich, the kind of extroverted bro type guy that previously, for the most part, wouldn't have pursued those interests much is jumping in.

Also, quite a lot of them as mentioned above about him not being the technical person simply are the typical MBA-bro frat boy type. That they're in SV instead of off being the wolf of wall street is likely just because they grew up on the west coast, or were told the gold rush is still going on or whatever.

There's definitely a distinct difference between the business bro and the brogrammer, but there's a lot of overlap in well... broness.

as for why they all ended up there, i think it's mostly because both types think that's where the easy money is. and if this guy can be this much of a doofus and still be a millionaire, then obviously there's some truth to what they're imagining.
posted by emptythought at 7:21 PM on July 3 [14 favorites]


I only spent a little time in the culture, but from what I experienced it's that the oppressed nerds never hated the jocks so much as they envied them. In a culture which favored them and their skills (programming over sports, that sort of thing) they wound up emulating the patriarchal culture which previously victimized them rather than continuing to rebel.

An opportunity lost and a shame.
posted by gilrain at 7:24 PM on July 3 [21 favorites]


It's the MBA frat-boyz who are the bros. In this round of tech bubble poker, they have figured out how to bully leverage the real geeks, who have been trying to get in with the Real Boyz crowd ever since high school. And as we all remember from that painful era in our lives, women are just pawns in that game.
posted by Dashy at 7:30 PM on July 3


Yea, so I work in tech. (I'm a designer, I can code, many of my besties are lady engineers.) It's ... bad. If I had a dollar for every woman I knew who blamed herself for doing something wrong when it was just shithead dudes gaslighting and being entitled, I could start my own incubator to make Paul Graham weep. Lately I've been talking up LPS (lack of penis syndrome ... it makes all your ideas unhearable until someone with a penis says them) to help spread the idea that we all feel like shit & blame ourselves about stuff that we shouldn't.

And I know there is this obvious shit and it is gross. (And I know from experience IAC just has the kind of corporate culture that feeds these bad decisions.) But what is actually more draining is the day-to-day dismissal. It's the dudes who are mostly good guys just not getting it. It's being careful about who you mention your feminism to because it could sink you.

And I think some people might say well, why stay, why not do something else. But you know, we stay because we *like* this. Sure the money is good, and that is nothing to take for granted, but more all the women I know really love making shit, just like the dudes. We love making shit so much we put up with all this crap anyways. But it sucks and I hate how much some people suffer for it.

For some awesome criticism from the women who are affected, check out Model View Culture and Cate Huston's work (especially why the pipeline obsession is bullshit).

Also excellent: Ellen Chisa, Ashe Dryden.
posted by dame at 7:31 PM on July 3 [47 favorites]


I don't really know where the Bro thing comes from. Most of the programmers I work with (not in Silicon Valley) are pretty much the same old stereotypes.

It's a thing in NY, SF, and Silicon Valley, absolutely.

Sometimes it's practiced ironically, in the same sense that one can express ironic racism (ie. express racist ideas and create a hostile environment without owning it.)

Other times, it's not even ironic.
posted by zippy at 7:32 PM on July 3


The bro thing - I recently took an advanced javascript class (in NYC) that was full of bros.

I had never seen the phenomenon before, and I was thinking whoa it's javascript, chill out, but they were obviously the kinds of guys who would have gone into Finance a few years ago, not the old school guys who just really really just loved coding.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:03 PM on July 3 [7 favorites]


The old school guys who just really really just loved coding can be seriously sexist. I'm really weirded out that they're getting some exemption for being bad at socializing or something. Also, I've noticed that the bad socializing +sexism is starting to marginalize some of the old school types. Personally I really prefer working with tech people who can communicate well and who have social skills.

I worked with so called old school guys who wouldn't let me anywhere near them (I'm a project manager) and be shouty and rude then would leave the job and their code would be a mess and not commented at all. Not good times.
posted by sweetkid at 8:21 PM on July 3 [11 favorites]


To be clear, I would bet that the principals here have never written a line of code or even so much as installed a router. These arent techies - they arent nerds/geeks/etc. Theyre MBA business majors fratboys who work in tech as marketdouches. Youll find the same asshats in banking and so on.

Thats not to say that there isnt a misogyny problem in tech. But at least it seems to diminish the farther you get from the valley.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:24 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I imagine part of the reason for the concentration of brosapiens in tech has to do with men are much more likely to get start up funding. The investors are old, white men more comfortable with giving money to other white men. Despite women submitting slightly more requests, only 7% of the funds go to female-led business start ups.
posted by _paegan_ at 9:22 PM on July 3 [17 favorites]


I just noticed that I said upstart instead of startup in my earlier comment. I am fine with that.
posted by futz at 9:48 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


The old school guys who just really really just loved coding can be seriously sexist. I'm really weirded out that they're getting some exemption for being bad at socializing or something.

Is anyone doing this? all i see are people talking about the weird, fairly recent influx of the bro-types. No one is saying that it's somehow less bad when it's the classic comic book guy type nerds.
posted by emptythought at 10:14 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


Not to derail, but the reason there are so many female staff attorneys is that it is a non partner track position that is looked down upon by the other attorneys. And the 40 percent partnership number is misleading - women are not well represented in the ranks of equity partnership, which is the source of real power in law firms.

That said, as lousy as it is for women in the law, it appears to be positively idyllic compared to tech. And that's pathetic.
posted by hockeyfan at 10:37 PM on July 3 [8 favorites]


I'm glad she filed the suit. I'm sad that her character and female-ness is predictably being subjected to such nasty, stupid, and hateful attacks online (some of the comments on the linked articles are truly disturbing). I hope people will come forward in support of her -- it would be particularly encouraging to seem some of the big names in tech step up and speak out.
posted by nacho fries at 10:41 PM on July 3


rtha: Where are all the smart people again? Why should I listen to how very important all these people are and how awesome this field is, when they can't do a very simple thing - which is to not be fratboy assholes?

I think it's just a sad fact that being smart and being a jerk are pretty orthogonal.

emptythought: I'm really weirded out that they're getting some exemption for being bad at socializing or something.

This always irritates the shit out of me. (The notion, not you, I mean.) I'm actually all for giving people who are genuinely socially awkward a break. But "socially awkward" pretty much never manifests as fratbro sexism. The socially awkward guy is droning on at his (male or female) colleague about some esoteric geeky topic that bores everyone who hears it. The socially awkward guy is standing by himself against the wall at the party. He's scared of the opposite sex. He doesn't so much creep women out as he makes them roll their eyes. He's worried about his red stapler. He's pretty much the opposite of laughing with the crowd.

Acting like a sexist asshole is not because someone is "bad at socializing." Bonding with your dudebros over rape jokes isn't being "bad at socializing." Those people can socialize just fine. They act like this because they're assholes. (And who, although I say it through clenched teeth, are assholes who need to think about the considerable privilege that enables it.) When people like me suggest that yes, socially awkward people deserve to be cut a break, we are not talking about people like this.
posted by tyllwin at 11:29 PM on July 3 [20 favorites]


If you go to any event populated by a high number of men who work in tech, and you're a guy so they feel "safe" saying stuff around you that they don't think is wrong, but have just enough self awareness to know not to say everywhere all the time...

Ugh, this - not just if you're a guy, but also if you're a woman and they're so used to there not being any women in the room that they forget you're there. So many times someone would say some horribly sexist thing, then realize/remember that I was there and say "oh, I guess I shouldn't have said that, because heisenberg is here." And I was like, actually the reason you shouldn't have said that is that it's horribly sexist; my being here or not has nothing to do with it.
posted by heisenberg at 12:04 AM on July 4 [29 favorites]


I had to stop reading those texts. Seriously man, you've been dealt a hand of 5 aces in life with your ludicrously high paying do nothing job and you sound like a resentful 14 year old who has just had the completely original and misguided thought that 'all women bitches that fall for jerks and/or are just after a sugar daddy/older man.' Because you were rejected, probably because you are a complete arseholic creeptacularly entitled bro-child.

This startup culture needs to die in a fire, and it needs to die soon. Is there an app for that? If not I have a brilliant idea and some of these venture capitalists who apparently are sitting around on piles of money trying to work out the quickest and most hilariously inept way to waste it should start sending some my way. I could do with some fancy acronyms like CTO and CEO and COO and CFO. And, wow, maybe these people would like to start backing people who have enough of a fucking clue not to start dating their subordinates, and at the very least not to leave an embarrassingly obvious evidence trail.

FFS. I'm sure I could come up with some other decent ideas as well - it's not like 'helping randy early 20 somethings hook up' is a particularly high bar to clear after all.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:10 AM on July 4 [6 favorites]


Men ruin everything.
posted by colie at 3:48 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


I don't think these guys are truly techies. They're "tech entrepreneurs," which is to say rich kids with business degrees who come up with ideas and hire programmers to implement them. At least, that's the sense that I got from this Forbes profile:
Rad and Mateen are local boys. They both grew up in Beverly Hills, although they attended different private schools. They first encountered each other at 14, when Sean made a play for Justin's girlfriend. (“We met because we both liked the same girl—but the girl was my girlfriend,” says Justin.) They reconnected at USC, and then both started independent companies. Justin's was a “social network for celebrities.” Sean's was Adly, a platform that allows companies to advertise via celebrities' social networks. He sold the majority of his stake in 2012. “I didn't want to be in the ad business,” he says. He also didn't want to make things for computers. “Computers are going extinct,” he says. “Computers are just work devices.” For people his age, the primary way to interface with the technical world was through a mobile device.
A little Googling reveals that Mateen and Rad have business degrees, not computer science backgrounds. Also, Mateen's parents are super loaded. His dad is the CEO of a company that buys and sells shopping malls, and his parents paid four and a half million dollars for their house in 2002. I don't think these are geeky dudes who spent their adolescence furiously coding and never learned any social skills. I think these are Beverly Hills rich kids who spent their adolescence trying to steal each others girlfriends because they're competitive and girls are trophies. I don't think they're exactly business geniuses, either, because they basically just stole the idea from Grindr and applied it to straight people. The hard part was convincing straight people that they could use it without being slutty or sleazy, and that seems to have been Whitney Wolfe's department. So yeah, I'm not seeing the socially-awkward genius thing here. I think these guys are just Mitt Romney without the Mormon values and with a sense of entitlement that extends to their dealings with women.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:54 AM on July 4 [31 favorites]


Professionally, as a woman in tech, I have definitely been underestimated and let down by the guys who really love coding, but I've also been helped a lot by others.

The bros are on another level. Whether they are MBAs taking javascript classes or real programmers, in addition to the sexism, they are so competitive there's no room for thoughtfulness. I can't even begin to deal with them and I don't want to.

Whitney Wolfe shows absolutely amazing strength of character in those text messages.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:17 AM on July 4 [6 favorites]


There's a lot of No True Scotsman going on in comments on this issue. While there are many people jumping into tech hoping to get rich before the second bubble pops, trying to blame them for sexism is an attempt to avoid acknowledging the sexist culture which was already there.

When you say “oh, that's just a business guy” it both tacitly excuses that behavior and rejects the many, many bad experiences women have had with geek's-geek CS types (not to mention gay, trans, minority and anyone else who doesn't fit the straight Caucasian / Asisn male nerd image). The list Jacob linked to is long and far from complete – for every public incident there are many which never made the news and it does no favor to the field to try to excuse that or pretend it's all the work of outsiders.
posted by adamsc at 7:39 AM on July 4 [9 favorites]


If I had a dollar for every woman I knew who blamed herself for doing something wrong when it was just shithead dudes gaslighting and being entitled, I could start my own incubator to make Paul Graham weep. Lately I've been talking up LPS (lack of penis syndrome ... it makes all your ideas unhearable until someone with a penis says them) to help spread the idea that we all feel like shit & blame ourselves about stuff that we shouldn't.

I work in tech as well and know exactly what you mean. I'll bring up a great idea in a meeting or over email and it gets ignored... until it is brought up again by someone else. (Sometimes they act like they thought it up. Maybe they truly believe that.) My verbal communication skills aren't the greatest, but lately I've been wondering if I can even claim to know how to speak English. I'm the only female developer in an office full of males, so it's hard to tell the difference between personal shortcomings and insidious sexism.

The effects of LPS are manifold. Most directly, as we're discussing here, it's harder for women to get credit for their contributions. But something else I see in my own experiences: the lack of positive feedback for good ideas can make you doubt yourself. On a bad day it can make you petulant. If you express the frustration, it can be seen as bitchy or childish. It takes almost superhuman strength of character to be able to keep a lack of positive feedback from stunting your growth.

I try to counteract it by reading a lot of geeky tech books and keeping a positive attitude about the science behind what I'm doing. The people who are just in tech for the money will move on when trends shift, but there is a lifetime of satisfying and lucrative tech work for people who truly love it.
posted by mantecol at 7:42 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


I'll bring up a great idea in a meeting or over email and it gets ignored... until it is brought up again by someone else. (Sometimes they act like they thought it up. Maybe they truly believe that.)

men of metafilter have often asked us what they can do to help - and i keep forgetting to offer this suggestion and it seems appropriate here - if you work in an office that skews male, watch out for this and counteract it. if a woman colleague makes a suggestion that seems to be utterly ignored, repeat it and give her credit. if you hear one of your male coworkers repeat an idea that a female coworker had earlier as if it were his own, just offer up, "jane said that 10 minutes ago!" for your own edification, you might also just keep a silent tally of how often the men speak/get heard vs the women.
posted by nadawi at 7:54 AM on July 4 [12 favorites]


While there are many people jumping into tech hoping to get rich before the second bubble pops, trying to blame them for sexism is an attempt to avoid acknowledging the sexist culture which was already there.

But what is about this field that seems to attract such a high percentage of high-profile sexist bullshit? I've worked in kitchens and I've worked in (non-tech-related) offices, and this kind of behavior was not tolerated or encouraged. A number of my current co-workers are smart 20somethings, and they don't act like this. Our office culture doesn't invite it and doesn't encourage it. There is something particularly concentrated about the sexist toxicity of startup tech culture that goes way beyond "I learned it from you!" and I think investigating what that is exactly is not giving the larger culture a pass at all; we can do both at the same time.
posted by rtha at 8:03 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I was at a user experience Meetup recently and a woman made a really good point, and the male speaker was like, "Yes, what I think about that is..." and then said the same thing. And then he was like, "wait, I just said exactly what you said, except louder and in my voice. Sorry about that."
posted by sweetkid at 8:06 AM on July 4 [12 favorites]


I was at a user experience Meetup recently and a woman made a really good point, and the male speaker was like, "Yes, what I think about that is..." and then said the same thing. And then he was like, "wait, I just said exactly what you said, except louder and in my voice. Sorry about that."

I can see the humanity in it, to some extent. They teach us in high school English class that a point needs to be repeated three times before it sinks in. And there is a difference between simply hearing an idea, and having that 'aha' moment in your own mind, where you understand the idea well enough to explain it. I can't claim, as a female, never to have appropriated a colleague's idea.

But it definitely seems like males in this industry are given the benefit of the doubt, even when they provide plenty of reasons for doubt. Whereas women are continually expected to prove their value. Which means that ears are more perked up when a male is speaking.

The slant on the playing field just sucks.
posted by mantecol at 8:21 AM on July 4




Sorry. I definitely didn't mean to imply that there's no problem in tech or that true techies can't be misogynistic creeps. It seems abundantly clear that the tech industry has a huge, systemic problem with this kind of crap. I just think these dudes are kind of not specific tech types, except that tech is where you go these days if you're a rich frat-boy with aspirations to make your first billion before you hit 30. Twenty years ago, they probably would have been harassing the women at their investment banking firm. It's just that on the one hand they wouldn't have been the boss, and on the other hand they would have been a lot less likely to leave a paper trail.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:01 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


I can see the humanity in it, to some extent. They teach us in high school English class that a point needs to be repeated three times before it sinks in. And there is a difference between simply hearing an idea, and having that 'aha' moment in your own mind, where you understand the idea well enough to explain it.

Sure, but that seemed to me to be a straight up situation where repeating her idea as his own was a gendered thing, and he even seemed to acknowledge it as such and it was cool. Men occasionally doing this and mansplaining and etc doesn't take away their humanity at all. It's just cool when they acknowledge it.
posted by sweetkid at 9:02 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


The effects of LPS are manifold. Most directly, as we're discussing here, it's harder for women to get credit for their contributions. But something else I see in my own experiences: the lack of positive feedback for good ideas can make you doubt yourself. On a bad day it can make you petulant. If you express the frustration, it can be seen as bitchy or childish. It takes almost superhuman strength of character to be able to keep a lack of positive feedback from stunting your growth.

Yes, this, so much. A friend and I were talking with guys we work with about how frustrating someone was and they were like "just let it go". But then it occurred to me how much more we had to "let go" everyday and well, if they were us they wouldn't be so sanguine either. But they don't get that and then there it is, us being petulant.
posted by dame at 9:52 AM on July 4 [5 favorites]


dame: Lately I've been talking up LPS (lack of penis syndrome ... it makes all your ideas unhearable until someone with a penis says them) to help spread the idea that we all feel like shit & blame ourselves about stuff that we shouldn't.

For years now, I've wanted to make a spoof infomercial where a woman is in a meeting, trying to be heard, and men just talking over/past her. Maybe even the scene where she says something then the male colleague says the exact same thing, but as his idea. Then someone comes on the scene "Tired of not being heard in meeting? Try [product name]!" And whips out a dildo. The next seen is the same woman, everyone in the meeting listening with rapt attention and she stands up with the camera cutting to the obvious dildo showing through the pants. I know its crass, but god damn it, this is such a problem for women in tech.

mantecol I work in tech as well and know exactly what you mean. I'll bring up a great idea in a meeting or over email and it gets ignored... until it is brought up again by someone else. (Sometimes they act like they thought it up. Maybe they truly believe that.) My verbal communication skills aren't the greatest, but lately I've been wondering if I can even claim to know how to speak English.

Yup. This. A million times this. At one point I worked at a company where the owner was so cartoonishly sexist, he refused to believe any thing he liked was something I did, and would attribute it to male colleagues. Even with them arguing "No, [ICNH] did it. All by herself." He would argue back to the other guy "No, I remember you doing it." It was bizarre. Though in a way refreshing, at least I knew it was happening. The "I didn't hear anything you said" syndrome is far more sinister and confidence destroying.

I am good at communicating ideas, to the point where I would get dragged into meeting to translate from tech to non-tech and back again, and I still experienced the "you're a girl, we can't hear you" in spades.

The other fast one that I've seen men in tech try and pull is the "it's so technical you probably couldn't grasp it so just trust me." I will be fair and say they try and do this to untechnical male colleagues, but not to the extent they do with women colleagues. (Which, of course, was my favorite thing to bust because I have experience in networking, programming and server maintenance and while I might not be 100% proficient anymore, I have enough of a background in technology, I can smell a technobable-as-avoidance excuse a mile away.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:10 AM on July 4 [9 favorites]


rtha: I think much of it is due to demand – being paid lavishly to do work which many people cannot makes it very easy to develop a sense of entitlement and men are often socialized to see women as much a reward as people.
posted by adamsc at 10:18 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think a lot of the jackassery is entitlement. Most of the men I know who are engineers are upper-middle-class white dudes who grew up having computers to play with, had their parents pay their way through college (so no loans even), were heavily recruited out of school and have companies that do everything for them while telling them how very special they are. It's a hard onslaught to come out of with empathy for folks who've had none of those advantages. (And I have many male friends here who do have that empathy and I treasure them for it.)

And then here there are many women working in tech who, in replication of the men as feminist allies thread, work in operations and hr, doing the caring work, so the special engineers can just focus on being special. (There is a Model View Culture article on it somewhere, too, though I can't find it just now.)
posted by dame at 11:41 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


rtha: That memo was an incredibly stupid idea, especially considering that one of the claims in Wolfe's suit is defamation of character.

IAC needs to send in an adult to Tinder, if only because they desperately need to triage.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:05 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


I started to read the texts linked to upthread, and just couldn't stomach more than a few.

Astounding.

Yet - unfortunately - not surprising.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:45 PM on July 4


IAC needs to send in an adult to Tinder, if only because they desperately need to triage

This is honestly blowing up so fast, that it's like a disaster situation. The "military", which in this case is IAC corporate needs to get their logistics and legal stuff in order before they can come in and start doing aid and recovery, and they may have even been advised to hold back and not just instantly sack this dude for PR reasons until everything is sorted.

Also, i think taking direct control would blow their cover instantly of it being a "cool startup".

What amazes me though, is this company run like an absolute monarchy? is there no one who isn't afraid to call the emperor out on having no clothes and go "Hey uh, that memo probably isn't a good idea, maybe you should shut up for a bit at least until this is sorted some more" because yea. It just kinda blows my mind if it's not only run by someone who wouldn't take advice from anyone, but also someone so blindered and cocksure that they wouldn't even think to ask.

I mean, that points to the greater problems that created this storm in the first place, but it's still totally face welded to palm. It's like watching someone shitfaced drunk trying to fight a parking meter, and then repeatedly falling on their face hurting and embarrassing themselves more and more. At a certain point you just want to scream "shut UP, YOU'RE JUST MAKING IT WORSE".
posted by emptythought at 9:25 PM on July 4


And then here there are many women working in tech who, in replication of the men as feminist allies thread, work in operations and hr, doing the caring work, so the special engineers can just focus on being special.

Let us not forget if there are women on the team, they will be given the shit work, the stuff that is grunt cleanup and code. I was a designer at a company some years back (which these days would be a ux designer, visual designer, front end coder and multimedia developer.) without fail, women in the department were given projects that were boring, tedious and required a lot of coding without any thanks. Men in the department were given the exciting, high profile and highly creative tasks. We all complained and it would get better for just long enough to slide back into that, only they'd try to hide it. That place was particularly bad, but I've seen it happen repeatedly at other companies. We women can't be trusted with complicated things, unless it's also boring. Even a place I was adored for my technical prowess, this pattern always started to emerge and I had to fight to win back projects that should have been mine.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:39 AM on July 5


The post-allegation memo is just in line with their likely legal defense: 1) we didn't know about this until after she quit, 2) we certainly didn't discriminate on age or gender, which are protected classes and which would land us in a ton of trouble.

No where does it out and out say "she's a liar," merely that it "paints an inaccurate picture."

They're coming as close as they can with deniability.
posted by zippy at 2:54 PM on July 5


Most of the men I know who are engineers are upper-middle-class white dudes who grew up having computers to play with, had their parents pay their way through college (so no loans even), were heavily recruited out of school and have companies that do everything for them while telling them how very special they are.

Not to defend misbehaving engineers, but these dudes are more "The Hills" than "Hackers".

They were the bad guys in "Real Science". Entitled, no-talent, self-important dipshits.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:25 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


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