There’s a grown-up version of Whisper that launched this week. Are you signed up? Would you even admit it if you were? Canary is a new app that allows users to anonymously post gossip and insider information about their companies. Too bad for you if you don’t have an official work email (#freelancerproblems) because you need one to sign up. CEO Geoff Pitfield did feel kind of badly about that:
It’s core to how the product works. We talked about letting people in with non-corporate addresses, but we haven’t achieved a resolution that maintains the sense of carving it out as separate from some of the generic messaging apps out there. You don’t want to compromise the integrity of what the app’s about.
Fair enough. After all, that is what makes it cool. You can only post about your own company, but you’re allowed to see what’s going on elsewhere. As of today, there are 500 companies signed up — “pretty substantial” companies, says Pitfield, Adobe and Twitter among them. Here’s the real catch: Canary is really, actually, totally, 100 percent anonymous. According to Pitfield:
I think that we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that this is actually anonymous. We store no personal information whatsoever, we don’t even keep the email address you use to verify. So there’s no way we can ever disclose your information; we don’t know it and there’s no way to figure it out.
Which is all really good, until you need to start scaling and making some cash. Pitfield doesn’t think that’ll be a problem; due to the nature of needing a corporate email to join, you’re talking about a valuable kind of audience. He predicts a simple advertising model in a news feed. They don’t know who you are, but they know where you work and what companies you’re into. That’s something.
Pitfield is also really optimistic; while most of the press, myself included, seems to think the best use is probably for evil, he’s not convinced. “We have to wait and see what people actually end up using it for. Everyone likes an interesting leak, but I’m not convinced that’ll be the primary use for it,” he says.