May 21, 2024

Blind and Other Anonymous Forums ‘Places of Pure Misery’: Redfin CEO

  • The CEO of real estate brokerage Redfin said anonymous forums are “places of pure misery.”
  • Glenn Kelman told The Information they’re also “the only way to speak truth to power.” 
  • Blind cofounder Kyum Kim said anonymity helps employees “talk honestly about work.” 

The CEO of real estate brokerage Redfin labelled anonymous forums such as Blind “places of pure misery.” 

Glenn Kelman told The Information that he’s “too old” and “self-important” to use the workplace platform, but acknowledged that it gave employees a way to “speak truth to power.” 

Blind is a forum where users can anonymously post company reviews but must register with their work email address. It also functions as a messaging service where users can communicate privately or join group chats with employees at affiliated companies and also offers a public channel.

It’s been popular among tech workers at companies such as Meta, Twitter and Amazon. Blind counts about 135,000 Microsoft staff, or 60% of its staff, as users, with 80,000 at Google (43%), and 70,000 at Meta (more than 90%), The Information reported.

“Anonymity lets us slander one another without consequences, but it’s also the only way to speak truth to power,” Kelman said.

Blind cofounder and chief business officer Kyum Kim told Insider that when the five founders worked at Korean tech company Naver, they found they couldn’t “really have transparent work discussions.” 

Kim said there’s silos between different divisions of big organizations and many layers of hierarchy, which can result in a “culture of hesitation” that prevents necessary discussions. 

“That led us to think there’s a need for a third-party forum where people have the freedom to talk honestly about work,” Kim said. It allows workers to vent their frustrations without fear of any repercussions, he added. 

However, it seems that not all companies are happy with their workers posting on the platform. A user said in November that Meta’s chief technology officer, Andrew Bosworth, was discouraging employees from writing about it on Blind. 

“Our CTO went off on a rant talking about how bad blind is for your mental health. But in like just a couple minutes he addressed so many of the discussions in the last 2 weeks,” one person posted on Blind.

Andrew Bosworth said he's nostalgic for Meta's early years when the company was more focused.

Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth.

Christian Charisius/Getty Images

The Blind team launched the app in Korea in 2013 and two years moved to California. However, they failed to gain traction and by mid-2015 they moved to Seattle to tap into its tech ecosystem.

“We decided to go to Seattle, where it had a lot of Amazon employees, to find out what people are really going through,” Kim said. “I was living there for six months and met with Amazon employees and signed them up in person – that’s how we started flying.” 

He also hosted parties and barbecues and invited Amazon workers so Blind could get more signups through word-of-mouth. 

Redfin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours. 

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