It’s not easy being interviewed by Michael Arrington. Over the last several years, we’ve seen our share of VCs, entrepreneurs, and big tech execs wilt under the pressure.
But not Michael Heyward.
The Whisper CEO held his own against Arrington, spending the majority of his interview at Disrupt NY 2014 defending his app as a place where authenticity and empathy reigns, where people can share private information and receive support from others who are in a similar place.
That’s in contrast to the general trend of other social networks that tied everything someone did to their full identity, a situation that Heyward says results in users seeing a “highlight reel” of the best moments of their friends’ lives. And that makes them feel kind of crappy.
In fact, he believes it’s created a lack of empathy in the world. Citing a study, he said college kids today are about 40 percent less empathetic than they were a generation ago.
“Whisper is not about concealing identity,” Heyward said. “It’s about creating a place where we’re not carrying around this 800-pound gorilla that we call our identity.”
All of which is something that Arrington generally seemed to agree with. That is, except for the part where Whisper is used to share information about public figures like Gwyneth Paltrow.
Whisper made headlines recently when Paltrow’s affair with her lawyer was unearthed on the app. The question for Arrington was why someone should be allowed to share that information on Whisper, when the company works so hard to protect its regular users.
“When you’re a public figure and in the when you are in the public domain, you’re in the business of promoting yourself,” Heyward said. “Gwyneth Paltrow is a public figure… When people have information about public figures or in the public domain… this is something of global relevancy.”
It’s not an argument that Arrington agreed with, but it was at least entertaining to watch. Check out the video yourself above.
Oh yeah… Sequoia’s Roelof Botha was there, too.