Salsa: Spice Up Your Office, Anonymously

How many times have you received a company gift that you had no interest in whatsoever (and perhaps heard the same from your colleagues)? Or had some problem with the place itself, or that idiot who always seemed to throw empty cups outside the dustbin? Is it only you who your boss leers at, or does he do it to every woman in the office (and some of the men, too)? How many times have you wanted to know whether you’re being undervalued for whatever reason (whether based on region or sexism or anything else), wanting to compare salaries in your field? These are all the things which you might not want to be traced back to you, and more than likely wouldn’t want your boss to see or hear about. One, after all, has to at least maintain a marginal semblance of professionalism in the office. But maintaining professionalism means you can’t always share your opinions and emotions, at least not publicly.
CaptureSalsa is an app where you can share gossip with your colleagues, where you can have a comparison of salaries across your field, and where you can see who concurs with you (and where they are). And everything about Salsa is completely anonymous – no email identification is required for posting messages. Such an app is a valuable asset for both employees and employers, given its potential for anonymous critiques as well as insider news.
Yuchen Wang had come to the US in 1999, and has a long history of working with startups. As he says, it’s in his blood. Ten years later, he developed his first app, a puzzle for iOS, which climbed to the number two position in the app store in China within its first two months. In 2012, he quit his job to start TaggTo, a mobile company for social e-commerce. However, after two years he decided to pursue new ideas, given that TaggTo had failed to develop a large base beyond a few loyal users. Salsa came along because after working in startups, he noticed that many valid opinions and ideas were remaining unvoiced in the interest of professionalism, and that there was no real anonymous platform that was specific to the workplace. After all, there is an anonymous app called “Secret”, but this had too many categories, with much of the content being NSFW. But Wang took inspiration from an incident where a prospective Google employee thought she was being lowballed in terms of her salary, and posted this on Secret. The response on that app proved to Wang that an organized, anonymous online community can be very useful, and thus that there was definitely a space for one that was exclusively work-related.
One problem with an app like Salsa is user acquisition, which Wang admits is always a problem with any such mobile app. One huge advantage for Salsa is that there are really no competitors right now – while there are other anonymous communities, few focus on the workplace. Another advantage is Salsa’s unique features – in addition to being able to send anonymous messages about the workplace, users can also do a salary survey (the one feature on Salsa which does require email verification), and the “Spice Up” feature, which is unique to Salsa, allows the original poster to see who is in concurrence with her opinion and where they are in the world. Existing apps, such as Canary and Memo lack the ability to post about any company other than the one which the user is employed in.
Salsa is still in its early stages, and at present focuses mostly on IT companies and medium to large-sized startups. However, Wang looks forward to expanding the company, so that employees in any sector will be able to post about their workplace. One possibility for growth is for Salsa to provide internal forums for companies, but Wang’s vision is for Salsa to remain an independent community, one where users can discuss their work-related issues openly.

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