My name is Dana Severson, cofounder of StartupsAnonymous.com, and I have a bone to pick.
For an anonymous site owner, posting on an anonymous series, you may wonder why I’m starting off by identifying myself. This simple answer is, anonymity is just a tool for speaking honestly. In this particular instance, I don’t need it.
We didn’t create Startups Anonymous to jump on the anonymity train. In fact, for those of you keeping track, we had launched before the birds were chirping. We didn’t see anonymity as a vehicle for extracting rumors and gossip. We saw it as a tool to extract realism. We believe that the concept of anonymity is greater than the act of being anonymous. It’s a mindset, a choice, which you can use or not. We use anonymity to bring about honest dialogue to benefit a community.
In this particular case, hiding my identity isn’t required and certainly wouldn’t add value. In every other instance of sharing on my site, I’ve chosen to remain anonymous. In fact, that’s why the site began. I was tired of holding back. I was tired of pretending everything was ok. I needed to open up and get some shit off my mind. The site was completely self-serving, but it just so happened that I wasn’t the only founder suffocating from the “up and to the right” guise that plagues our community.
Last week, Business Insider wrote a piece on the topic of anonymity, which we were a part of. This was a rarity. Not the discussion on the anonymous market, but rather, that we were actually part of the discussion. Nobody seems to give a shit about a company that’s using anonymity as a tool to bring value to a community. Instead, they focus on the apps that are starting to serve as the Associated Press of tech.
I sound upset, because I am. We’re being overlooked, and it’s really starting to irritate me.
I expect as much from Valleywag, but not from the others. To be fair, Pando, our weekly host, was early to recognize the value we brought to the tech community. So were TNW, Inc., and most recently BI.
I’m no fool, I understand the game. Dave Morin rumors are click-y. I get it. They make for a much sexier discussion than an everyday founder who opens up about being scared to take money from investors. But, I ask, which discussion brings you more value?
While everyone discusses whether anonymity apps are sustainable or, if they can bring value to a community beyond indulgence, we sit here with the answer, building value for founders each and every day. We reach out directly to those who ask the questions (cc: you know who you are), yet we’re met with silence.
Maybe they don’t actually want the answer? Maybe they enjoy the fodder or, more specifically, enjoy being part of the rumor mill. After all, I’m sure at some level, it’s refreshing to know that you’re relevant enough to even be discussed. Maybe not, but actions speak louder than words.
Let me state for the record —I have no beef with other anonymous apps. Their approach to market is none of my concern. They’ve built products that are serving a purpose, whether you agree with that purpose or not. There is plenty of validation to suggest that the service is desired.
I’m disappointed in those that have influence in our community — the media and the tech elite.
To them I say: Tell me you don’t like our meager design. Tell me that we’re not worthy of your time. But, please, don’t sit there and question whether there is a value in anonymity, and ignore us when we show you the answer.
At the very least, give us the courtesy of acknowledging our existence.
[Image via Thinkstock]