A dangerous and terrible startup idea that you should not try to do at home

This is the first of what will probably be a very short series of dangerous and terrible ideas that probably are illegal and should never see the light of day, beyond some troll-y post on Medium.

Let me preface the following by saying that I have absolutely zero plans to build or collaborate on the building of this, or any other Dangerous and Terrible Startup Idea.

So, without further ado…


An end-to-end encrypted Secret-like platform for financial professionals to anonymously share stock tips and the privileged information informing said stock tips.

Even by the US’s somewhat lax standards of securities and corporate secrecy law enforcement, you’re still likely to be screwed if you get caught. So don’t build it.

Oh wait… looks like someone already did. Kind of. It’s called Symphony. And it’s being bought by Goldman Sachs, a firm with a slightly less-than-sterling track record when it comes to insider trading, unethically wielding political influence, etc.

This communication platform has everything a financial ne’er-do-well might want in a platform that lets them anonymously share information and avoid los Federales at the SEC.

According to their website, the Symphony features:

End-to-end Encryption – So they aren’t left holding the key when the Feds come knocking to do an inquest into insider trading.

Guaranteed Data Deletion – Basically the same thing as a drug dealer flushing product down the toilet prior to a raid. Also, it’s a generally good security practice.

Account Protection Features – Symphony lets you know when your password is weak, which is nice of them I suppose.

Symphony is kind of like the dangerous and terrible BlueHorseshoe idea, except they keep everything tied up in instant messages.

BlueHorseshoe would be a bit more like Secret, an app and website that allows people to anonymously share secrets, ostensibly about anything, but mostly about dishy Silicon Valley gossip.

So, instead of a “narrowcast” communication channel between two people, or between one person and a small coterie like Symphony, BlueHorseshoe would be a forum to broadcast insider information from one to many.

You may be asking yourself, how does BlueHorseshoe make money? The same way other information sources tailored to finance people make money: by charging for access to the information before the general public gets to see it. This is how top Wall Street banks and Greenwich, CT hedge funds “get in front of the market”: they’re literally first in line to hear big financial news because they paid for that access.

To conclude this “pitch” to you, I will end with an “ask”. Be mindful of the tools you use and those used by others, how they could be used for good or ill. And, recognize that the design and implementation of software products is as much a social and political statement as it is a decision motivated by profit or the potential thereof.

Reporter for Crunchbase, Formerly of Mattermark. Fan of startups and VC data. Co-chair of Startup Row for the Python Software Foundation.

Reporter for Crunchbase, Formerly of Mattermark. Fan of startups and VC data. Co-chair of Startup Row for the Python Software Foundation.