Titstare is a fictional mobile application centred on pictures of men staring at women and their breasts. It was introduced at a 2013 hackathon at TechCrunch's TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, California by two Australian developers.Titstare became the subject of public controversy, with the skit being described as symptomatic of sexist attitudes in Silicon Valley's startup culture. Conference organizers later apologized for the misogynistic presentation.
TechCrunch, a technology news website, was established in 2005 and acquired by internet giant AOL in September 2010.The acquisition was seen by AOL as a move towards solidifying its position as a provider of technical content and was announced at the 2010 edition of the annual conference sponsored by TechCrunch, known as Disrupt.
Disrupt events, generally held early in the fall of each year, are conclaves which bring together representatives of startup companies, industry insiders, and interested others for presentations and networking, typically also including the opportunity for collaborative hackathon sessions. It was at Disrupt 2013, held in San Francisco, that Australian programmers Jethro Batts and David Boulton debuted their new tongue-in-cheek mobile phone app, Titstare, described by the pair as "an app where you take photos of yourself staring at tits".
On Sunday, September 8, the duo delivered their rehearsed one-minute-long presentation – a series of mild breast-related jokes and puns – tying in with their humorously intended product. This generated a mixed response from the assembled crowd, running the gamut from indignation to uncomfortable laughter to genuine appreciation of the "twisted kind of standup" intended by the presenters.
Titstare was accused of adding to the institutionalized sexism, known as brogrammer culture, in the American tech industry. Response was immediate and primarily negative; journalist Abby Ohlheiser wrote that the app's intent, the agglomeration of photos of men staring at partially clothed female cleavage, effectively trivialized the right of women to consent.After he defended the app against allegations of misogyny on Twitter, Business Insider Chief technology officer Pax Dickinson was forced to resign. Dickinson later wrote an apology, which was published on VentureBeat.
Much of the criticism appeared on Twitter, with one representative tweet stating, "There goes my attempt to teach my 9 [year old] girl how welcoming tech industry is to women."
TechCrunch was immediate in issuing a public apology for the Titstare presentation, as well as one for an offensive masturbation app presented later in the day, deeming the presentations "misogynistic" and declaring:
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. Trust us, that changed as soon as we saw what happened at our show. Every presentation is getting a thorough screening from this hackathon onward. Any type of sexism or other discriminatory and/or derogatory speech will not be allowed.... We are sorry.
The creators themselves took to Twitter with a speedy apology, stating "sorry if we offended some of you, very unintentional. Just a fun Aussie hack."
Commenting on the affair in The Guardian , journalist Amy Gray faulted conference organizers, whom she presumed knew about the content of presentations beforehand based upon mandatory pre-convention uploads of personal and project information.Gray felt the Titstare affair emblematic of a duality in the tech world, which was on the one hand perfectly meritocratic in theory, while in practice being an industry which "runs on privilege, with sexist and juvenile behaviour based on gender stereotypes being routinely displayed". Co-editor of TechCrunch Alexia Tsotsis said that the presenters did not include the name of their app in the presentation list.
Engadget is a technology blog with daily coverage of gadgets and consumer electronics. It has been operated by Yahoo! Inc. since September 2021.
A hackathon is an event where people engage in rapid and collaborative engineering over a relatively short period of time such as 24 or 48 hours. They are often run using agile software development practices, such as sprint-like design wherein computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, product managers, project managers, domain experts, and others collaborate intensively on engineering projects, such as software engineering.
TechCrunch is an American global online newspaper focusing on high tech and startup companies. It was founded in June 2005 by Archimedes Ventures, led by partners Michael Arrington and Keith Teare.
The App Store is an app marketplace developed and maintained by Apple Inc., for mobile apps on its iOS and iPadOS operating systems. The store allows users to browse and download approved apps developed within Apple's iOS SDK. Apps can be downloaded on the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, and some can be transferred to the Apple Watch smartwatch or 4th-generation or newer Apple TVs as extensions of iPhone apps.
Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by the American company Dropbox, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, California, U.S. that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi as a startup company, with initial funding from seed accelerator Y Combinator.
TokBox was a PaaS company that provided hosted infrastructure, APIs and tools required to deliver enterprise-grade WebRTC capabilities. It did so primarily through its proprietary OpenTok video platform for commercial application.
Spotify is a Swedish audio streaming and media services provider founded on 23 April 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. It is one of the largest music streaming service providers, with over 590 million monthly active users, including 226 million paying subscribers, as of September 2023. Spotify is listed on the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American depositary receipts.
Greg Kumparak is an editor at the technology news website TechCrunch. He was an early addition to TechCrunch, joining when the site was still primarily operated out of the home of its founder, Michael Arrington.
The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is an Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, seed fund, and incubator headquartered in Accra, Ghana. The three-phased institution was founded in 2008 to provide training, investment, and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa.
GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft. It was launched in May 2010 by the private company GroupMe. In August 2011, GroupMe delivered over 100 million messages each month and by June 2012, that number jumped to 550 million. In 2013, GroupMe had over 12 million registered users.
Flutter is a gesture recognition technology startup based in San Francisco, California, United States. Founded by Navneet Dalal and Mehul Nariyawala, the company received early-stage funding from Y Combinator and was acquired by Google in October 2013.
Messenger is an American proprietary instant messaging app and platform developed by Meta Platforms. Originally developed as Facebook Chat in 2008, the company revamped its messaging service in 2010, released standalone iOS and Android apps in 2011, and released standalone Facebook Portal hardware for Messenger calling in 2018. In April 2015, Facebook launched a dedicated website interface, Messenger.com, and separated the messaging functionality from the main Facebook app, allowing users to use the web interface or download one of the standalone apps. In April 2020, Facebook released a Messenger desktop app for Windows and macOS.
Snapchat is an American multimedia instant messaging app and service developed by Snap Inc., originally Snapchat Inc. One of the principal features of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are usually only available for a short time before they become inaccessible to their recipients. The app has evolved from originally focusing on person-to-person photo sharing to presently featuring users' "Stories" of 24 hours of chronological content, along with "Discover", letting brands show ad-supported short-form content. It also allows users to store photos in a password-protected area called "my eyes only". It has also reportedly incorporated limited use of end-to-end encryption, with plans to broaden its use in the future.
“BillGuard” was a personal finance security and productivity company. Its mobile and website application scans credit card and debit card transactions, alerting users to possible scams, billing errors, fraudulent charges and hidden fees.
"Brogrammer" or "tech bro" are slang terms for stereotypically masculine programmers. Brogrammer is a portmanteau of bro and programmer. It is often used pejoratively to describe toxic masculinity and sexism in the technology industry, but some programmers self-describe themselves as a brogrammer positively as a word for "sociable or outgoing programmer", and it also tends to represent a subculture within the greater tech industry. An example sometimes cited of targeted advertising toward "brogrammers" is an early Klout hiring advert posted at a Stanford University career fair as "Want to bro down and crush some code? Klout is hiring." The company later described it as a joke and as an unfortunate misstep.
Sexism in the technology industry is overt, subtle, or covert occupational sexism which makes the technology industry less friendly, less accessible, and less profitable for women. While the participation of women in the tech industry varies by region, it is generally around 4% to 20% depending on the measure used. Possible causes that have been studied by researchers include gender stereotypes, investment influenced by those beliefs, a male-dominated environment, a lack of awareness about sexual harassment, and the culture of the industry itself. Margaret O'Mara, a professor of history at the University of Washington, in 2019 concluded that Silicon Valley is uniquely influential locale that is shaping our world. But she points to problematic failures regarding diversity. Male oligopolies of high-tech power have recreated traditional environments that repress the talents and ambitions of women, people of color, and other minorities to the benefit of whites and Asian males.
StartupBus is an annual technological startup competition and entrepreneurship boot camp, described as a Hackathon, created by Elias Bizannes in February 2010. The competition is held across a 3-day bus ride where contestants or "buspreneurs" compete to conceive the best technology startup. The competition seeks to attract young top talents to compete, to search for the most innovative startup conceived by the groups, where the winners are determined by a panel of judges. Starting from February 2011, it has gone through many iterations in various continents from 2011 to the present day, with the first in Austin, Texas and subsequently in North America, Europe and Africa.
Tracy Chou is a software engineer and advocate for diversity in technology related fields. She previously worked at Pinterest and Quora with internship experience at Rocket Fuel, Google, and Facebook.
Tristan Harris is an American technology ethicist. He is the executive director and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology.