Tech Startups Take To Medium To Manage Image, Issue Apologies

By Marissa Lang
San Francisco Chronicle.

There’s a formula to startup screwups that seems to go like this: make a mistake, wait for public outcry and/or media exposure, then apologize — on Medium.com.

The site’s self-proclaimed mission when it was founded in 2012 was to help people publish “little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world.” No longer would regular people with big ideas have to build a blog and a following, or condense their thoughts down to 140-character tweets, to reach a wider audience.

But recently, Medium has also become the de facto wire service for startups, entrepreneurs and tech companies. Particularly those who need to issue a mea culpa or account for their recent missteps or PR disasters.

On Medium, there are dozens of postmortem essays chronicling and explaining a startup’s failure, why a company had to shut down or “what went wrong” in any number of endeavors.

Among the more famous public accountings:

“A few thoughts from today,” by Dennis Crowley, the Foursquare co-founder whose wife faked her way into the 2014 Boston Marathon.

“I’m sorry” written by Peter Shih, the startup founder who had to apologize for a sexist, classist and downright rude San Francisco diatribe that he also published on Medium in which he decried the weather (“I hate how the weather here is like a woman who is constantly PMSing”), the women (“Just because San Francisco has the worst female to male ratio in the known universe doesn’t give you the right to be a bitch all the time”), the homeless, and the culture of his fellow startup founders (“There is more to life than who raised money from who and which startup got acquired by Google”).

Most recently, Medium played host to “My response” by Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, a rebuttal to a recent Business Insider article that accused the food startup company of using fake science, lying on product labels, creating an unsafe work environment and sending out questionable products to meet deadlines and cultivate an appearance of surefooted success.

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