The Apology Titstare Should Write

There are few words as simple and yet so hard to say as “I’m sorry.” When done right, those two words can bring people back over to your side, but it’s just as easy to come across as insincere.

Today at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, a team from Australia presented a project called “Titstare.” The name says it all but Valleywag has a good summary if you want the details.

At best, the presentation was highly inappropriate and childish. At worst, misogynistic and made women working in the industry feel more alienated than they already do.

And as far as I know, Titstare has yet to formally apologize.

During my startup marketing/PR career, I’m lucky to have only been involved with a few apology letters. But if I were Titstare today—and not knowing any “insider” info on what really happened behind closed doors—here is the apology letter I would write…

So, We Really Messed Up

We could tell you we were tired and not thinking straight from the 16-hour plane ride to San Francisco. Or that we had to change our project in the last hour after our other one failed. Or even that our presentation was supposed to be a parody.

In fact, some people have made these excuses for us.

But the truth is much simpler: We had a complete and utter lapse in judgment. We thought something was funny and a good idea, and it clearly wasn’t.

To TechCrunch, we apologize for treating the hackathon as more or less a joke—and when we had hesitations about our project, not discussing those with you directly before going on stage.

To the other participants, we apologize for turning the spotlight away from all the wonderful projects you launched. You all worked through the weekend—sacrificing time with friends and family—to build your projects. Because of our actions, you did not get the attention you rightfully deserved.

To the sponsors, we apologize for any poor reflections on your brands this caused.

And most importantly—to anyone and everyone who works in the technology industry‚ we apologize to you.

Today we alienated women, and furthered harmful stereotypes of “bro culture.” We have a long way to go in this industry to improve gender equality, and today’s presentation only set us all back.

So where do we go from here? While we can’t go back in time to change what happened, we would like a little bit of good to come out of this situation.

On that note,starting today through September 13 we will match any and all donations to Girls Who Code, a wonderful organization that inspires young girls to enter the computing field. Simply send us a note mentioning how much you donated and we will match it—no questions asked.

Again, we are very sorry for the harm we caused today. Hackathons are no place for presentations like ours, and we can only hope others will learn from our mistakes.

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