For those of us in the startup, Silicon Valley-makes-the-world-go-round tech industry, the name Sam Biddle incites fear (in the timid), disgust (in the short-tempered) and a chuckle (for those with a good sense of humor).
But before the 27-year old Brooklyn-based tech stroke gossip blogger wrote his first word, there was another Sam Biddle, the “real Sam Biddle”, as she jokes, who has beaten cancer and raised two children while building a global empire for nail artisans. She was also first to claim the @SamBiddle Twitter handle, so of course she knows all about the other Sam Biddle, who has a substantial 16,000 Twitter followers @SamFBiddle while Ms. Biddle has just under 2,000.
In the land of Union Jacks and God Save the Queen lives a wide-eyed and vivacious 42-year old woman named Sam Biddle. Each morning, she wakes up to dozens of mis-directed tweets sent to @SamBiddle, which the English lady is too polite to reiterate completely but says are along the lines of “he’s a twat” and “an idiot”.
“It’s just terrible stuff,” she says. “I can definitely tell when he’s written something! He has some real followers and some real haters out there. But I don’t send him any of it because it’s really, really bad. I would be mortified to receive those kinds of tweets.”
Earlier last year, Ms. Biddle noticed that things were heating up for the other Sam Biddle, which was around the time he joined the resurrected Gawker gossip site ValleyWag in April.
“To see someone with my own name acting like this, burning bridges in our name, it’s very strange. I keep thinking that I was here first! Go away with my name!” she says, laughing.
At first Ms. Biddle was nervous that the tweets could be seen on her Twitter feed so she used to reply to people letting them know they had the wrong Biddle. After clarifying that no one could see the content unless she was to retweet it, she slowly stopped reading the tweets altogether.
“We are from completely different industries,” she says. “In our industry, we may say things behind each other’s back to one other person, and in person, but we certainly don’t tweet about it! So when people started bad mouthing him, I thought, that’s so rude! You know, I’m English, you just don’t do that,” says Ms. Biddle, who lives in Dorset, England with her husband and two children.
But then of course, Sam Biddle of Brooklyn, New York also knows all about the other Sam Biddle. “I feel like I’ve known her my whole life,” he says. “For as long as I’ve been Googling myself, she’s been there. I felt like it was a good career indicator when I finally overtook her in the Google search results, but she is still, to me, this unfathomable giant.
She has a following like nothing I’ve seen before — she is preeminent in a field (nail art) that is so completely alien to me. I’m still not exactly sure what she does, only that she is apparently the best at it, and has a legion of other women who want her attention and expertise. In that way, she is still very much winning our online rivalry.”
Ms. Biddle started “Be Inspired”, the world’s leading educational company for nail technicians 13 years ago. Since then, she’s won countless awards for innovation and made a career out of inspiring and empowering other nail artists in her community. One of Ms. Biddle’s ultimate aims is to grow the nail industry to be as rich and exciting as hair and makeup is in the fashion world. The ironic juxtaposition of the two Biddles is not lost on her.
“I’ve built my entire business by building up other people’s self-esteem and making them feel confident. So I suppose I’m the polar opposite to him!” she says.
Considering the daily, if mis-directed connection the two share in the online space, Ms. Biddle says that she would like to meet the other Sam Biddle on one of her frequent trips to the United States.
New York’s Sam Biddle also receives misdirected Tweets, but instead of profanities, he receives loving praise for her seminars and instructional videos. “She has nothing but fans, no detractors. So in this way, we are sort of the inverse of one another,” says Mr. Biddle. “But then again, she does seem very kindly and fun, and has made a career for herself doing exactly what she loves. In that way, perhaps we are also sort of similar, beyond the names?”
When asked what she would tell her American namesake, she says, “First, I’d listen to what he had to say. I wouldn’t come in all guns blazing. Since he’s been hired to do this specific job, I would congratulate him because he’s doing an amazing job. But I would ask him, ‘Has he thought about his future?’ ‘Has he thought about what his overall plan is?’ Everybody loves celebrities at the moment and everybody loves publicity good or bad. But I worry. Even with his rhino skin, which I admire, I worry for his future, his career, and for his mental health. Yes, if I am in New York, I will tweet him and we will definitely meet up. That will be funny.”
New York’s Sam Biddle says he would also love to meet her. “I’m part English — maybe we’re distant cousins? Even if not through blood, we have been united in a 27-year Google index deadlock,” he says.
Much has been said about the 27-year old Sam Biddle and ValleyWag’s mission this past year. You can read about it on Secret, on Twitter and Facebook and even in The New York Times. But when a woman from an ocean away is able to see a troubling situation with such clarity, it’s a strong wake up call that we all need to get outside of our bubble now and again, and perhaps be a little less rude to each other. We’re not here to gossip and to bring each other down. We’re here to build technology and relationships that didn’t exist before.
Because according to Ms. Sam Biddle, “Life isn’t about burning bridges, it’s about building them.”