Remember that one startup “Hooli” that was peddling a weaker version of Slack, only with their name stolen from HBO’s Silicon Valley? Turns out, that’s not all they stole.
Team messaging app Opp.io said on their blog this week that Hooli.io has stolen their entire product concept. Check out this demonstration for Opp.io below, and then pop open this tab of Hooli.io for comparison:
The Opp.io crew realized what happened after news started breaking that Hooli.io had stolen their name. In a Medium post called “Press Hack 401: Hacker’s guide to press,” Hoolio.io’s Siddharth Kothari writes about how to “hack” the press with no PR experience, which essentially comes down to scrubbing a list of tech reporter emails and making a press kit—watch out, we’ve got a real disruptor over here.
Mr. Kothari says he was able to get four launch-day articles written, and that with his techniques and a few bucks, you can do it to!
Not so fast. In his braggadocious guide, he fails to mention that the only reason anyone covered Hooli.io is because the name of the app was stolen from a hit HBO Show. Our own coverage was about how they could easily be sued for it. If Mr. Kothari was just peddling Opp.io—the product they’ve ripped off—we never would have covered it.
In that case, he Mr. Kothari was successful, but not in a way that is reproducible. Is the tech press manipulable? Hell yes it is. But if Mr. Kothari is going to brag that you got coverage, he should at least mention that it was negative coverage that gave his legal liabilities greater visibility.
But of course, if you want to take a stolen product, put your real name and reputation against it, lie to the press and then misrepresent yourself to the tech community about what you’ve accomplished, please let us know. We’ll totally write about you.