In an extremely contentious interview with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, Michael Heyward, the CEO of anonymous social network Whisper, nearly melted down on stage today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Arrington peppered Heyward with questions about the purpose of the Whisper app. Arrington seemed to think Whisper is designed to make it easy for people to bully others, which is antithetical to Whisper’s mission of making the world more “caring, empathetic, and tolerable.”
Specifically, Arrington pointed out a Whisper post from earlier this year that alleged Gwyneth Paltrow was cheating on her husband. Arrington didn’t think it was proper for Whisper to allow that post on the service. Heyward said part of Whisper’s mission is to expose news and secrets about public figures like Paltrow.
Then things got really dicey. By the end, it was clear Heyward was a little frazzled by Arrington’s questions and was having difficulty completing his thoughts.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what happened:
Heyward said: “Whisper is all about creating a place of authenticity and openess.”
Arrington did admit there were some beautiful things on Whisper. But he was more concerned with the post about Paltrow. “How does outing Gwyneth Paltrow cheating on her husband make this a more caring world?” he asked.
Heyward responded: “When you’re in the public domain, you’re in the business of promoting yourself.” Based on that, Whisper thinks it’s ok to post gossip about celebrities, politicians, etc. Whisper is “in the business of truth,” Heyward said.
But Arrington kept pressing Heyward. Arrington said “being in the business of truth” wasn’t the original mission of being “caring and empathetic,” like Heyward mentioned earlier. That’s when Heyward started to lose his composure. He said “being in the business of truth” was the same as being “caring and empathetic.” Arrington didn’t buy it.
They went back and forth like that a lot. Heyward became visibly flustered and frustrated.
Heyward then tried to counter Arrington’s argument with some touching posts from Whisper like this one:
You can forward to about the 15 minute mark to watch the good stuff:
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