An open office is a manifestation of the corporate culture of a technology company, but there are still secrets that cannot be pried under the transparency.
What employees really want may be a "community pantry" where they can talk freely, exchange gossip, inquire about each other's salaries, discuss why layoffs and how to promote.
Workplace social media has realized such a function for a long time. The domestic representative is Maimai, and in Silicon Valley it is Blind, which we are relatively unfamiliar with.
Recently, Blind has gotten more attention. After the wave of layoffs in Silicon Valley, employees of technology companies such as Meta and Twitter flocked to Blind as an outlet for venting.
Anonymous workplace networking, sweeping Silicon Valley after layoffs
Launched in South Korea in 2014 and expanding to the U.S. in 2015, Blind initially became popular among Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft, where as many as a quarter of their employees have used Blind.
Currently, Blind has 7 million registered users from more than 300,000 companies .
Like Blind's name, here, users can anonymously post and connect with others in the industry to ask questions, discuss and even complain about anything in the workplace, whether it's layoffs, promotions, company policies, or salaries, gossip, workplace culture.
Among them, salary has always been a hot topic on Blind, and Blind also provides targeted salary comparison tools.
When you enter your salary, you can check the comparison with your peers and their background information; when you enter a position in a company you are interviewing for, you can find out where the expected salary falls in the salary range of this position.
More recently, Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees, Twitter laid off about half of its staff and thousands of contract workers, and Amazon confirmed cuts to its hardware and services teams. The topic of layoffs has become the latest maelstrom at Blind.
“The metaverse will be our slow death,” a user who identified himself as a senior software developer at Meta posted on Nov. 9.
Internally, Twitter is deeply disturbed by Musk’s “vigorous and resolute actions”. Many employees’ remarks can be seen on Blind.
After the Amazon layoffs came out, some employees wrote a post "Amazon layoffs are imminent, how this affects you and what you have to do".
These reviews were all written by current employees because users can no longer use Blind after being fired or resigning.
But employees don't have to worry about being approached by the company, because anonymity and privacy protection are Blind's "settled life" mechanism.
It starts with signing up for Blind. Users need to register Blind with an email address. Both personal and work emails are available, but the access rights of the two are different.
▲ Company ratings and reviews are also a popular feature.
Blind offers several chat channels, a private company channel for discussing only with colleagues, an exclusive group chat channel for connecting with employees of affiliated companies, and a public topic channel for engaging with the entire Blind community.
Register and verify with a work email, you can read and participate in all content, register with a personal email, you can only browse public topic channels, and cannot discuss or send private messages.
That said, Blind encourages registration with a work email. After a period of time, users need to re-verify their email addresses. If they find a new job, they need to re-register with the new email address. These verified professionals can form the community that Blind wants.
▲ Picture from: getty images
By the same logic, Blind does not allow hiding company names, "Company tags are an important part of our community, you and other users can know who you are connecting with."
And when it comes to security and privacy, Blind promises that all email addresses are encrypted and stored separately from account information . This means that nothing a user does on Blind can be traced back to an email address.
At the same time, a real name will not be associated with a Blind account, as Blind does not ask for this information, and the only information required for registration is an email address.
▲ Picture from: getty images
Blind has repeatedly emphasized that anonymity is at their core, "We do not sell and share names, emails, or personal information. We do not retain this data in the first place, and we do not allow companies to censor posts or channels."
Under the protection of anonymity mechanism, your company generally will not know whether you are in Blind. But if your work email is being monitored, the company may see if you've requested a verification code.
The anonymous version of LinkedIn is more "negative energy"
Blind's popularity in Silicon Valley is not just because of this wave of layoffs.
During the pandemic, remote work has become the norm. Although industries such as technology and finance can work remotely, employees still need to "gather together to discuss" offers, workplace gossip, and company policies.
When employees feel more and more alienated from the company and colleagues, Blind just plays the role of a connector.
Since the start of the pandemic, monthly active users from Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta have doubled, Blind said.
▲ Picture from: Blind
In the past, commuting time was the peak of use, but when telecommuting, users stay for about an hour a day on average. There is no fixed range and no obvious peak. They appear continuously at all hours of the day and all days of the week.
There are many reasons why Blind is out of the circle. On the one hand, with the rise of remote work, the value of information in internal channels has decreased. Blind can more intuitively reflect what employees think. "People are more honest on Blind."
On the other hand, when the epidemic first broke out, there was also a wave of resignations. Blind acted as an "early warning signal". News here ran faster than the media, and new opportunities flowed here. Many users shared which companies were still recruiting, And discussed a range of topics from work visas to health insurance.
▲ Picture from: getty images
In April, Blind's head of public relations Rick Chen noted that Blind's user base had grown by about 75% to 100% over the past year and a half. In May 2021, Blind received $37 million in Series C funding.
In Rick Chen's view, the popularity of Blind is closely related to the "uncertainty of the times".
This is indeed the case. Blind has repeatedly gained a sense of presence in the ups and downs of technology companies amid the wave of departures due to the epidemic, telecommuting, returning to the office, and layoffs in Silicon Valley.
▲ Picture from: getty images
Blind is more than a passive mirror, and it doesn't just bring employees together. Based on millions of registered users, it will personally organize some interesting polls, which illustrate the problems in the development process of technology companies from a unique perspective.
In March of this year, regarding the controversial hybrid office, Blind's survey of 1,097 Google employees showed that two-thirds of employees were dissatisfied with Google's requirement to work in the office about three days a week.
In May of this year, in the face of the foggy metaverse, Blind conducted a survey of 1,000 Meta employees and found that only 58% of them expressed their understanding of Zuckerberg’s metaverse strategy, reflecting Meta’s doubts, confusion and frustration in entering the metaverse .
Blind's vision is to be an ally to employees, an advisor to the company, "empowering employees to make informed decisions, and inspiring productive change in companies."
In the eyes of critics, Blind is more "negative energy", the opposite of LinkedIn. A former chief human resources officer believes that Blind has a stronger conversational nature than similar sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor, which also makes it more prone to company bashing and overall negative.
Combining the perspectives of both parties, Blind should be a "double-edged sword". This sword itself is also a "weapon", which may hurt people invisible. For example, salary largely determines the evaluation of users by the community.
An example is that non-professional relationship posts also tend to list total compensation (TC) at the bottom, and if not, the comments keep asking for "TC or GTFO" (total compensation or get out).
Additionally, while Blind has community guidelines , it is a "self-moderated" community, and only posts that have been flagged multiple times by users as inappropriate can be reported to Blind and removed after review. In the absence of immediate censorship, there are also sexist and racist comments here.
Blind reflects the multi-faceted workplace and has formed its own community culture, as Medium author Dolores Pan commented:
In many ways, Blind exposed me to the best and worst of tech culture. Here, there are those who are optimistic about technology's ability to change the world, those who only care about prestige and rewards, and those who are racist and sexist.
Does the workplace need an "anonymous pantry"?
As a product form, anonymous social networking is actually not new.
Maimai appeared earlier than Blind. It was established in 2013. It started as a job search and recruitment, but it has gradually become the "melon-eating base" of Internet giants by relying on anonymous revelations.
In the early days of Maimai, the review of speeches in the anonymous area was very loose. A post-85 programmer interviewed by "Daily People" mentioned that a large number of anonymous users called names and cursed people, and there were often postings by fresh graduates who claimed to have an annual salary of one million.
In the eloquent anonymous posts, many workplace revelations have been confirmed, but false statements are also emerging in an endless stream.
In June 2017, Maimai launched the "Real Name Clarification" function, which allows false rumors to be refuted. Only HR, company executives, public relations personnel or parties involved in the incident can apply.
In July 2018, Maimai was interviewed by the Cyberspace Administration of China, because there were "problems that users anonymously posted rumors to insult and slander others, and infringed on other people's reputation, privacy and other legal rights."
Not long after, the "Anonymous" section came out again in the form of "Job Words". Users can choose one of the three ways to reveal their true identity (name, company or position). The second option is the most common, after all, "company" is also a kind of Gold lettering.
▲ Picture from: Visual China
Similar to Blind, Maimai's anonymous board also has two sides.
On the one hand, Maimai’s anonymous section has to a certain extent forced major Internet companies to rectify problems or respond positively, such as news about the sudden death of employees.
On the other hand, Maimai has also received many lawsuits from Internet companies, mostly because anonymous speeches were suspected of damaging the corporate image. In losing more than one lawsuit, Maimai provided the whistleblower information as required by the court .
It is very interesting that in China, many workplace social software that imitated LinkedIn did not survive . In 2015, LinkedIn launched "Chitu" for the Chinese market , which focuses on "down-to-earth" real-name workplace social networking. Yue went offline, and finally Maimai became the winner.
This also illustrates the importance of workplace social software as an "anonymous tea room" – we need a content section for users to post anonymously, not just a social section for finding friends and building connections.
Of course, there are still differences between Blind and Maimai. For example, Blind implements complete anonymity, and the only verification method is email, while Maimai is a "real-name workplace social platform" with more verification methods. Although an anonymous area has been opened, it is more encouraged. Real name and professional avatar.
The two also have something in common. In addition to being the bellwether of the workplace, they both ended up recruiting.
For Maimai, it wants to expand the category and tear off the label of "workplace pantry". In April 2018, Maimai officially launched its recruitment service.
In December last year, "China Entrepreneur Magazine" reported that in the eyes of founder Lin Fan, Maimai's mission is to "achieve career dreams" and hope to provide job seekers with more complete target company information when choosing a job. Recruitment has become a The core pillar of Maimai, the income ratio of the three businesses of recruitment, advertising and membership is 3:1:2.
Blind's plan is a bit different. It hopes to advance in two lines. Although the recruitment service Talent by Blind and the anonymous community Blind belong to the same company, they are independent of each other—you are not anonymous on Talent by Blind, it is best to use personal Sign up with an email address, and the company can view your name, photo, LinkedIn profile, and more.
But what drives Blind's candid recruiting business is the emphasis placed on career development and compensation by anonymous users. Blind counted keywords searched by anonymous users and found that 80% of them were related to company name, rank, position or team.
There is Maimai in China, and Blind in Silicon Valley. Anonymous workplace communities are an important form of "equal dialogue". On the premise of protecting user identities, allowing users to get out of a company's walled garden satisfies the needs of humanity. Employees who come here, while finding more gossip and freedom, often expect better pay and opportunities.
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