Color's Totally Public Photo Swapping Service Has A Public Office To Match

Stroll through downtown Palo Alto right now, and there’s a chance you’ll pass by one of the most buzzed-about startups in the Valley: Color, the new photo-swapping service that raised $41 million pre-launch and has been met with waves of hype and backlash. Color’s office is pretty nondescript from the outside — that is, until you notice the handwritten note that’s hanging on the door.

Color CEO Bill Nguyen, who sold Lala to Apple in 2009 before starting Color, has written a letter to passersby inviting them to come inside and check out the office — where they’ll actually be able to submit ideas for the product.

Here’s the full text:

“What is Color? We are an open social network for your iPhone and Android.

This is our home that we’ll be opening to our community. You can come in during the day and participate in our product vision. We’ll take your ideas and build them into our efforts. Whether you are a high school student, Stanford Phd candidate, or just an interested Palo Alto neighbor we can’t wait to meet you.

Bill, CEO, Color

We’ve confirmed that the letter was indeed written by Nguyen, and he isn’t just paying lipservice to the neighbors — Color has every intention of opening parts of its office to the public.

John Kuch, who is the company’s VP of marketing and communication, explains that Color has set aside a room of its office where it will hold meetings, public events with guest speakers, informal chats, and other activities that are focused on explaining and improving the product. There will also be conversations around what Color’s vision of ‘public’ really means. I suspect this is a preemptive measure they’re taking against the inevitable waves of privacy concerns we’ll see if the service takes off.

The room itself is quite large and looks like a dining hall, complete with long wooden tables. And there are windows around the exterior so that people can see inside (again, fitting with the public theme).

As for the handwritten note — it really just fits in line with Nguyen’s irreverent personality.

Thanks to Stuart Hamilton for the tip.