Earlier this year the three founders of Hate You Cards, David Boulton, Andy Longworth and Jethro Batts, pissed off Senator Christine Milne with their new take on postcards. This was also the winning application from the Sydney Angel Hack and as part of the prize they won a trip to Silicon Valley and mentoring with some of the world’s best in the space.
Whilst Hate You Cards was a little controversial and very much geared towards the typical “Aussie” sense of sarcastic humour, Boulton’s and Batt’s latest offering, Titstare which they presented on Sunday at Techcrunch Disrupt completely missed the mark. So much so that Techcrunch issued a formal apology on their website about the two Sydney based developers pitch.
There is a huge difference between being cheeky and a little controversial and downright sexist. Unfortunately these two locals on our startup scene definitely crossed the line, and with that are going to come a number of consequences, the first that is already happening is they are being named and written about for all the wrong reasons and will be known for a while yet across the startup space for these same wrong reasons.
I remember communicating with the guys around the time they won Angel Hack and it was obvious that “cheeky and fun” apps were their thing. It seems though that if you are into making these types of applications you really need to ask yourself these two questions:
- What is the difference between controversial and offensive?
- Could this make a member of the community feel ‘less than’?
The thing that is disappointing here is that Boulton and Batts seem to think that they are going to be able to fix the problem by apologising if they caused offense during their presentation, and even seem to defend themselves by calling it “Aussie” humour.
#titstare guys here, sorry if we offended some of you, very unintentional. Just a fun Aussie hack.
— Hate You Cards (@HateYouCards) September 8, 2013
Sexism is NOT Aussie Humour. Sexism in Australia’s tech scene is something that has been on the radar for quite a while now, and I find it hard that technology entrepreneurs immersed in the scene would have not seen the outrage caused by the YBF “pussy” incident last year and the “get me a coffee love” incident that happened with female investor Tristen Langley who was there to judge that particular gentlemen’s pitch!
It is never fun to learn a lesson publicly, and gentlemen as much as I think you were trying to be endearing smart arses with that pitch, you really, really, really got it wrong. Own the mistake, make it clear you really do understand why so many people are fired up about it and maybe penn something down. You have an open offer to publish it on here if you wish.