Yesterday we reported that sponsors of the “Boston API Jam” were pulling out after the host, daily deal API service Sqoot, listed women as an event ‘perk’ ( See more here). After being berated with criticism by both men and women in the tech community, Sqoot’s cofounders Avand Amiri, and Mo Yehia released a Google Doc with what many thought was a half-hearted apology:
“While we thought this was a fun, harmless comment poking fun at the fact that hack-a-thons are typically male-dominated, others were offended. That was not our intention and thus we changed it.
As the two founders SHOULD have expected, their “Sorry, you’re oversensitive” apology did not appease the crowds, or their sponsors. After yanking the event off EventBrite, Sqoot released yet another apology titled “We can do better, an apology from Sqoot.” This time the pair offered more of an explanation and showed more remorse (authentic or not) for their lack of respect for women in tech community. Will it be enough to save their hackathon or their reputation? We’ll let you be the judge.
Recently, we decided to host a hack-a-thon in Boston. Our goal: to bring developers together with the community and new technologies to build amazing things. Like any good party, we wanted great music, great people, and great food. We wanted to do better than pizza and soft drinks, and truly wanted everyone involved to benefit in a big way. We didn’t want developers to leave in the same cliques they came with because of a lack of cross-pollination nor did we want sponsors to spend thousands of dollars yet still miss connecting with ideal users. We really wanted to do better.
Unfortunately, we did worse. When we put together the original event page, we used language that we now realize was reckless and hurt efforts to diversify gender in tech. We immediately and deservedly received an enormous backlash. While we aimed to call attention to the male-dominated tech world through humor and intended to be inclusive, the gravity of our wording was just the opposite. Our words completely undermined our intentions and went further to harm the world we’re trying to have a positive impact on.
We apologize unequivocally to our sponsors, customers, friends and family, and community. We’d like to thank everyone for being so outspoken. As a young startup, we learned a lot today and are better people and a better company for it.
As we decide whether to continue with the event, or reschedule for another time, we will focus efforts on making sure that our event marketing is inclusive to all. We will do better.
If you have any questions, or want to chat, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Mo, Avand, & Sqoot