In which the New York Tech Meetup momentarily channels Sex and the City

By Erin Griffith , written on January 9, 2013

From The News Desk

Before it was a cheesy movie, it was a cheesy "no-nonsense" advice book; and before it was a book, it was a famous line from "Sex and the City." Now, the phrase "He's just not that into you" has taken the form of an interactive website. It's called HeTexted.

Launched in October, the advice site more or less breaks the bad news to women through crowdsourcing and hired "bros." The problem is that it sort of misses the point Berger (Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend) was originally trying to make. The message of "He's just not that into you," is that there is no gray area.

Either he's into you, and it's obvious, or he's not and it's not. All the obsessing over whether he is or isn't is just a pointless exercise in masochism. With that single line, Berger rendered four seasons of "Sex and the City" plotlines moot. No wonder his common-sense character didn't last more than a few episodes.

We know that the analyzing, like old episodes of "Sex and the City," is a waste of time. The problem is that it is just so... tempting. It's pretty damn fun, too. But most importantly, as I realized at the New York Tech Meetup last night, it's universal.

Two minutes prior to HeTexted's presentation, the audience was debating the virtues of NoSQL database commands. But the founders of HeTexted and their resident bros ("not douchebags," we were promised), pulled more audience eyeballs away from smartphone screens than any other presentation. Maybe it was the state of mild chaos that occurred when co-founders Carrie Henderson-McDermott and Lisa Winning inexplicably threw bags of candy at the crowd. Either way, the giddiness reached near-teenage levels, which, for a crowd of 750 cynical New Yorkers, was more than a little unusual.

Since HeTexted is more a content website than a tech innovation, the demo was like a live version of Liz Lemon's short-lived advice show, "Dealbreakers." In other words, equal parts fun, silly, annoying, and ridiculous. Maybe it was also helpful, but I have to think that, after all the obsessing and analyzing of texts, most ladies end up going with their gut on these things anyways. But who cares? In matters of the heart, even techies will indulge.

Victoria from the audience proposed a texting quandary: "Okay, so. I went to a party and met a guy who invited me out to dinner the next night. And then he never texted. And then a few days later he texted saying, 'Sorry, I came down with something, let's hang out soon."

By a show of hands, the audience was doubtful of his interest in Victoria. HeText's bro more or less agreed.

And that is HeTexted in a nutshell. The dead simple website launched in October, and, in the words of Henderson-McDermott, "got a stupid amount of press by accident." I'm not surprised -- it's just one of those topics everyone feels compelled to weigh in on. The press led to 1.3 million unique visitors, two book deals, and possible TV and film deals. SheTexted for the dudes and WeTexted for couples are on the way.

There is a business plan, too. Henderson-McDermott explained after the event that HeTexted plans to become an "eBay of advice." Her bros, of which there are currently eight, have or will develop brands big enough that people will actually pay to get one-on-one advice from them via video chat. The private "bro' messaging section of HeTexted is already more active than any other part of the site. Henderson-McDermott cited, the chat and phone advice site (which also features psychics and healers), as proof that people are willing to pay for advice.

That's not exactly the most serious way to earn a living, but it's hard to fault them for that.