TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 - the year sexist bro-joke apps killed TechCrunch brand.

Today, a young app-maker and budding programmer, Alexandra Jordan, presented her idea at Techcrunch's Disrupt Hackathon. Her app serves to solve a problem her age-group often have: arranging playdates. Super Fun kidtime is down at the moment likely overwhelmed by traffic. In the audience were other younger ladies, from black girls code, probably adding finishing touches to apps of their own. And then....

That tweet really says it all. Now, some may defend Hackathon with "it's an adult event". First, an adult event doesn't mean adult XXX rated, and both "Titstare" and "Circle shake" are sexualized "jokes" that could warrant a harassment complaint if presented in a work setting. Seriously. Second, since when were hackmeets expected to be adult? There has always been a brilliant eleven-year old high as a kite on jolt-cola bouncing around somewhere at any given hack gathering for as long as I can remember.

Aron Solomon wrote "Titstare - seriously ", Valleywag weighed in : Techcrunch disrupt kicks off with Titstare app, Businessinsider : Titstare and masturbation apps at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013, so it is getting enough attention. Oh, and Mom saw it too, and she's not pleased with the menfolk in the audience who laughed at Titstare.

This is the Titstare presentation, where two "brogrammers" crack a series of puntastic titjokes to present an app they made where you can upload images of you staring at a girls tits and rate other people who have done the same. Think selfie-instagram meets hot-or-not.

This is the "masturbation app" presentation (if you listen, that's just what they built to show something else off, but nobody will recall what now).

This will be written up and down for days because people are rightly upset that a 9-year old girl was presenting her app next to two entrepreneurs who were "making a joke" called Titstare the app. Techcrunch has since written an apology to all of their readers and developers attending hackathon stating that the event was "marred by two misogynistic presentations". I'm not sure I would use the word misogynistic to describe a masturbation joke, because that's not so much woman-hating as self-loving. But I digress...

Sexism is a major problem in the tech industry, and we’ve worked hard to counteract it in our coverage and in our own hiring.
Today’s issues resulted from a failure to properly screen our hackathons for inappropriate content ahead of time and establish clear guidelines for these submissions.

The last line I've quoted, there, in bold, that's what Techcrunch should have been doing from the very beginning. This is an admission that they've never screened in advance, and don't have clear guidelines yet.

So, remind me again why we're flocking to Techcrunch's hackathons? It's not a seal of approval if the rules are so non-existent that anyone doing anything at all can get in. Join me next week when I present my hack that turns iPhones into paperweights. I leave them in my jeans when I wash'em.

More love to Alex, because kitten-shirt too. Aww!
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Dabitch's picture

In 2010 Techcrunch wrote this post: "Too Few Women In Tech? Stop Blaming The Men.". I won't blame. men. I'll blame Techcrunch.

Kevin Baughen's picture

If you chase, nurtures and worship free market principles, then this is what you get. Supply and demand means people pay for puerile humour and boob jokes. It sells and therefore, it's going to be present at these events. Doesn't make it right but those are the underpinning principles of American society (admittedly from an outsider's perspective...)

So what did you expect? Perhaps some more diligent scheduling wouldn't go amiss, I'll grant you...

kidsleepy's picture

The blokes who made the app were from Australia, not Americans. So...I think you meant "Australian society," too. If I'm not mistaken, the UK are pretty good at tit jokes, too. Benny Hill, innit.

At the end of the article Dabitch pretty much covered what you said, too: "This is an admission that they (Techcrunch) have never screened in advance, and don't have clear guidelines yet."

My point is, there are hacks in every business. They usually make the loudest noise and overlook the best ideas. The end.

Dabitch's picture

The Titstare blokes, who according to sources on the internet are claiming "it was a joke", strike me as the Brahntrepreneur types. We have a lot of these kinds of "creative/entrepreneurs" in advertising too, usually found freelancing their way around the world touching base at every hip shop along the way. They'll be supplementing their freelance money with all sorts of internet-based business, selling shirts on the side, usually puntastic ones like these.

My point is though, that Techcrunch who hosted the event allowed for the brogrammers to sully their brand. Today the headlines read: TechCrunch stirs outrage with misogynistic presentations. To not vet the presentation beforehand doesn't just allow for craptastic pitches that wastes everyones time, it rightly blows back on Techcrunch who are presenting the event as "the" hackathon to be at. It isn't any more.

purplesimon's picture

Wow, your link goes to Fox News. Now, if Fox News is slagging you off, that's something. Good going techcrunch, you're considered out of whack by the most out of whack news agency I know!

Still, the 9 year-old deserves to be recognised as amazing. Shame she's getting lost in all the chat about the douchebags.

Dabitch's picture

Yep. Alexandra Jordan's app idea is very useful, it solves a problem for a specific target, which is why I made the entire first paragraph about her and linking her presentation. It might be full of "ums", and nervous hands, but that's a succinct and good presentation still, and the audience applauded loudly. She did better than the brahntrepreneurs did with their presentation, for sure. Better idea, better presented. Someone should fund that, I would find it really useful (as a mom of a 7 year old who wants playdates). Techrunch done f*cked their brand good.

kidsleepy's picture

Compared to Amanda Palmer's pretentious wonkadoodle TED talk, Alexandra Jordan is the next Elon Musk.

BruceK's picture

I'm sorry, I'm missing something. TechCrunch is apologizing for not having standards that would have prevented these apps from being picked. But that misses the point - the TechCrunch judges still looked at a huge number of apps and chose these apps. What a pathetic statement about the TechCrunch judges' judgements! Time to find an app conference that uses people with more brains and taste in selecting apps to show!

Sport-anon's picture

Techcrunch chose these apps to present? So Techcrunch chose Titstare? What a load of bollocks.

Dabitch's picture

Is this load of bollocks as in "that's not true" or as in "they should man up and take some of the responsibility for their brands nose-dive"?