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10 July 2017

Silicon Valley’s secret app Blind opens the floodgates

When Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced his departure last month, thousands of Uber employees spent more than two and a half hours, on average, browsing Blind. 

The app is an exclusive network of forums only available to employees at just over 100 tech companies, prompting Silicon Valley types to gab and gossip.

That community is now rapidly expanding. As of Monday, any member of a tech company can join Blind. They will have access to the newly created topics channels — like those based on companies, professions, locations, careers, startups — along with the “Tech Lounge.” 

“The whole idea is, I could post something like #engineers @facebook, can you explain how the interview process works?” said Alex Shin, Blind’s head of operations. “And our Facebook users will be notified within the app.”

When enough people from a company sign up, Blind creates a private channel just for that company’s employees. 

“We’re laser-focused on creating engaging communities,” Shin said. 

Blind, which is run by a team of nine in San Francisco, has thousands of active users from some of the largest tech companies, including 27,000 from Microsoft, 4,000 from Uber, and thousands from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Airbnb. 

Over the last two years, the app has spread across Silicon Valley. It has also had its viral moments, like when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn.

“I found out about Blind when the LinkedIn acquisition [with Microsoft] happened. One of my coworkers told me that he heard about [the deal] two days before the official news,” a LinkedIn employee told Mashable earlier this year. 

Many anonymous messaging apps have folded. Last year, there was Secret. This year, Square took in the remaining employees at Yik Yak. 

But so far Blind has grown. Blind raised $6 million last May, with participation from DCM Ventures, Mirae Asset Ventures, ID Ventures, and AJU IB.

Blind users spend 41 minutes, on average, on the app, which is on par with Facebook. Blind has verification via professional email addresses in its favor (which are kept private in the backend), along with a somewhat narrow focus on tech.

But, just like any social network, Blind needs to grow, and so, they’re shedding a layer of exclusivity and letting more of the tech community into the app. 

Employees in various positions across the tech industry — designers, engineers, product manager, sales people — have told Blind they want to be able to connect directly with other people in their same positions at other companies within the app, Shin said. By opening the app to everyone in tech, Blind has made that request a reality. Blind is a convenient way to ask others for honest feedback about working at a company. 

It’s also now a way for anyone in tech to job hunt or gossip. 

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