App that gets everyone talking in the workplace

Blind, a workplace community app, has been the source of some of the biggest business news and viral social media posts in the world.

They range from the Korean Air ‘nut rage’ incident and sexual harassment allegations at Uber in 2017 to the controversy at US food delivery platform DoorDash over an initiative that requires all employees to make a food delivery every month, to name a few.

One of the latest corporate news to come out of the anonymous user-based platform for workers is how staff at a Samsung Electronics mobile unit and home appliances are not allowed to use his phone while walking for safety reasons.

“Are they actually checking?” one blind user asks in a recent post, to which another replied, “Sometimes.”

A Korean product

Blind is headquartered in San Francisco, but it was a product born out of Korean workers’ desire for anonymous communication from a stifling hierarchy in the Korean office.

In 2013, two former colleagues from Naver, the country’s largest online platform, Moon Sung-uk and Jung Young-joon, created TeamBlind to launch the app. Moon is now CEO of the company.

In a 2014 interview with a local daily, Moon said the idea for Blind came from the South Korean tech giant’s internal message board, where staff could communicate with each other anonymously.

But after complaints about the company began to surface, the message board was shut down, prompting Moon to make a “fun change” by creating a third-party message board.

The 2014 mad rage scandal at Korean Air helped propel Blind’s popularity among Korean workers. On the anonymous online space, employees expressed their anger over how the airline heiress delayed a flight to New York because of a packet of macadamia nuts that were not served in a plate as she would have liked, resulting in worldwide media coverage.

The following year, Blind hit the American market, betting that anonymity would work for American workers as well, despite the markedly different workplace culture.

Succeed in America

In June, a Tesla employee uploaded a screenshot of an automated email to the app notifying workers who hadn’t been to the office for at least 16 days in the past month, showing the policies strict back to the company office.

A survey conducted by Blind in May of some 1,000 verified Meta employees revealed how concerned some were about their company’s Metaverse strategy, with 42% not understanding how Meta will earn revenue from the Metaverse and feeling unconvinced that he would succeed.

These are just a few of the many examples that show how Blind has become a wide-open window into the American workplace in recent years.

The appeal of the platform is transparency and anonymity, said Rick Chen, senior director of Blind.

“Blind is a trusted community for transparency in the workplace, and we believe our focus on anonymity and transparency has helped us become popular around the world,” Chen said.

“For example, money and mental health are taboo subjects in many cultures, but people can freely chat and seek help with these issues on Blind,” he added.

The platform said it sought to break down “professional barriers and hierarchy”. It was established as a safe space for professionals to talk about many work-related topics, ranging from wages and working conditions to sexual harassment in the workplace.

The hottest conversation on the platform right now is remote work.

“In early September, many American companies called back employees, canceling remote work from home. So Blind saw an increase in registrations because professionals and users wanted to know which companies were requiring their employees to return to the office”, Chen said.

Some companies have reportedly blocked access to the platform on their corporate Wi-Fi network and verification emails, including Tesla and Uber. But each time, it only led to more engagement and signups.

By May 2019, the blind community had over 2,100 Tesla employees, or approximately 5% of Tesla’s total workforce. But the number of Tesla employees on Blind has doubled since 2019, as they found a way around the ban with the help of Blind’s customer service, which verified each account manually.

On arol globally

The company said the app’s popularity has grown “incredibly” over the past two years. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, its user base has grown from some 3 million registered users worldwide to over 7 million, as new users have signed up not only in Korea. South and the United States, but also in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Singapore.

In Korea, more than 8 out of 10 white-collar professionals use Blind, including 90% or more of all employees of Korea’s top 1,400 companies, including Samsung, Naver, Coupang, GS Group, Kakao, Korean Air, LG and Nexon, according to data provided to the Korea Herald.

Compared to other professional communities, blind users tend to be “older and more experienced”. More than 4 in 5 users worldwide are 25 or older, with a median work experience of eight years.

There is a difference between users in the US and South Korea, two of the app’s biggest markets.

“In the United States, the community is most popular among professionals in technology, finance and management consulting, while it is more diverse in Korea. Notably, more than 200,000 users work in the public sector in Korea,” Chen said.

New frontier: a dating app

TeamBlind also launched the dating app “Bleet” for Korean users in November 2020. As the name comes from the words “Blind” and “Meet”, the app is strictly for those who can prove they are office workers.

Her goal is to help find “people who are as big as themselves.”

About Sally E. Bartley

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