If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had your fair share of bad managers and misdirected corporate initiatives, leading to grumbling around the office. It’s hard to tell the person signing your check that they’re the problem and not all of us can garner the same press attention as Brad Garlinghouse’s Peanut Butter memo.
Y Combinator startup Overhear.us wants to change that by providing a company specific anonymous forum for employees to dish the straight dope on what they really think about those TPS reports. Overhear.us creates company specific forums based on their email’s domain name, and yes that means there can be a company forum where you can bitch about Gmail. You sign up by just entering your email address, which send you a verification link to assure you’re the addresses owner. This also means you can invite coworkers by just entering their addresses. Once verified, you can stay logged in via cookie, or sign up for an account user name and password to manage your activity for multiple corporate domains.
The message boards are dead simple. You’re allowed to post to and read the threaded message board corresponding to your domain. No user ids are stored with the messages, even for internal purposes. They hope the anonymity will make people more at home airing their real concerns and frustrations. Since anonymity can also lead to abuse, the boards are also community moderated. Users to vote comments and threads up and down the list, the idea being that the cream will rise to the top.
Overhear.us sees a business model hidden in all this muck raking. Aside from being a useful source for HR departments and management at large, they think management will also like to clear the air about misconceptions or react to criticism. By buying an account (price TBA), your corporate overlords won’t be able to moderate the board, but buy a privileged spot for their posts, moving them to the top and having them specially highlighted for easy reading.
Overhear.us is currently angel funded and a product of the same team that made a similar site for posting secrets called SocialMoth. There is an existing company in this space called Anonymous Employee.