Need to vent about the boss? Now, there’s an app for that.
Memo, an app released last week, allows users to post anonymous messages about their employers, similar to Yik Yak or Whisper. So far, the free app has drawn employees from Oracle Corp. , Delta Air Lines Inc., Ernst & Young LLP and Hasbro Inc. talking about compensation, managerial efficiency and working from home, according to Memo’s maker, Collectively Inc.
Memo claims it has amassed about 10,000 users since beginning beta testing this fall. Users can post memos, comment on existing memos and link to websites, and will soon be able to upload files, including photographs and documents, to the app’s public and private streams.
Ryan Janssen, Collectively’s chief executive, says he wants Memo to be a place for workers to speak freely about what’s happening at work, and gives managers a chance to find out how employees really feel about the business.
Because managers have to evaluate employees, when a boss asks for feedback, “the employee’s natural reaction is to tell you what you want to hear, rather than the truth,” he says.
A screenshot from the Memo app in which anonymous users can discuss employers.
The truth, according to a sampling of public comments left by Memo users, is that some people feel overworked. A PayPal Inc. employee said: “I get 10x more work done over the holidays because there aren’t so many meetings.” From a McKinsey & Co. employee: “Consulting life is tough! But come on, there is no job as interesting as this!”
Users are verified through LinkedIn or a corporate email address, and Memo immediately deletes identifying data about a person, the company said.
The app comprises a public message board that can be seen by all users, as well as a private board that can only be viewed by employees of a given company, he said.
Apps like Memo, along with sites such as Glassdoor, where employees post reviews of their employers and leaders, could make public things management would prefer to keep in-house.
The hack of Sony Pictures late last year, which exposed the inner workings of a Hollywood studio, from employee salaries to office gossip to details on the cost of Academy Award campaigns, sent shudders through corner offices. In the weeks since, some companies have reviewed information security procedures while others are advising staff to share sensitive information in person rather than over email.
Mr. Janssen said Memo has received cease-and-desist letters from at least two companies, and a series of email complaints from a third company.
One of those letters, sent by Visa Inc. and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, concerns Memo’s advertising, and not employee gripes. Visa recently requested that the company stop using Visa’s logo and the name of the company CEO, Charles Scharf, in targeted ads it had placed on Facebook to drum up user interest. Mr. Janssen said he complied with Visa’s requests.
Mr. Janssen said users have reported that Visa, Boeing Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have circulated internal messages discouraging employees from using the app.
A Boeing spokesman said the company recently posted a message on its employee intranet reminding staff to be on the lookout for anyone seeking company information via social media. Employees are encouraged to voice concerns and complaints about the company via internal channels, he said.
Visa and Hewlett-Packard denied contacting employees about using Memo.
Memo stems from Mr. Janssen’s frustrations of Collectively’s first venture, a social network designed for freelancers. He said he had expected frank discussions in the site’s forums, but since users were identified with their real names, “people put on this weird, fake professional face.”
Collectively recently closed on a seed round of venture capital, the details of which Mr. Janssen said will be released next week.
Mr. Janssen said moderators check in on the app to patrol for bullying or offensive postings.
Write to Lindsay Gellman at [email protected]