Silicon Valley is the playground for some of the world’s most innovative minds. This group of mostly straight, white, male 20-somethings have built a multibillion-dollar empire on the back of the sharing economy. Apps like Uber, Lyft and AirBnb have proven themselves to be the way of the future. But the Internet of Sharing Things does not share equally with everyone. This fake app wants to change that.
“We live in a world of excess of privilege,” explained Kasima Tharnpipitchai, one of the project creators. “Privilege goes unused every single day. Unused privilege amounts to over $4 trillion of lost economic opportunity. And those numbers are according to me, right now.”
WellDeserved is the premier marketplace of privilege. From tech privilege to male privilege, this app even lets you monetize your hipster privilege. If you have any race, gender or socio-economic advantage you can exploit, this app is the place to do it.
The winning entry at this year’s Comedy Hack Day in San Francisco, WellDeserved perfectly sums up everything that is wrong with Silicon Valley. As the home to many of the largest high-tech corporations and the most profitable startups in the world, this app draws attention to the clear biases that exist along race and gender lines.
The report reveals a homogenous industry lacking women and minorities. Although overall 70 percent of Twitter’s employees are male, when it comes to tech that number increases to 90 percent. Only 2 percent of employees describe themselves as black or African-American, and 3 percent as Hispanic or Latino. The reports from Facebook and Google tell a similar story.
The upside is that all three companies have made a commitment to undergo significant changes. “We have a goal to reach every person on the planet,” Twitter said in an article published on its blog last year. “We believe that goal is more attainable with a team that understands and represents different cultures and backgrounds.”
As long as we continue to draw attention to the apparent inequalities in our society, progress can be made. The WellDeserved app uses satire and comedy to do just that. From the dude who charges a black man $5 to hail him a cab, to the guy who walks women home so they can avoid being catcalled, no form of privilege goes unused. If you want to book a particular product or service, just click “expect it,” because that’s how it works.
There are over half a million new businesses launched each year. The vast majority of them fail within their first year. Even with only a 25 percent chance of success, most entrepreneurs go into it hoping to find just a fraction of the notoriety held by famed CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey.
Investors are also anxious to jump on board with the “next big thing," sometimes pouring millions of dollars into a clever idea that is still in the early development phase. While most of us agonize over our business plans for hours, if not weeks, the WellDeserved business model is very simple: “We’re going to use big data, collect all of privilege and sort of balance it out a little bit.” As an added bonus, privileged users get to feel like they did something good.
“We believe that if everyone has privilege today, that will create a more equally privileged society tomorrow,” Kasima explained in the final pitch competition. One of the judges, actor/comedian Jonah Ray, chimed in: “I don’t see how I would ever be able to use this. I’m a straight white man. What do I need any of this stuff for if I already get it?” “You can sell it,” Kasima responded, “that’s the idea.” “But I don’t want to give it to anybody,” added Scott Aukerman, another competition judge. “And I already have enough money.”
This is well-deserved and you’re welcome.
Image credit: WellDeserved
Joi M. Sears is the Founder and Creative Director of Free People International, a social enterprise which specializes in offering creative solutions to the world's biggest social, environmental and economic challenges through the arts, design thinking and social innovation.