Following Death Threats, Peeple Founder Says She Was Wrong to Position App as 'Yelp for People'
Julia Cordray has had a rough couple of days. She learned a hard life lesson: Be careful what you say on the Internet. Google forgets nothing. Stick and stones may break your bones, but your words will always come back to bite you.
The co-founder and CEO of Peeple, a controversial forthcoming app she infamously described to The Washington Post last week as “Yelp for People,” has received multiple death threats. She’s also been called “delusional,” “sociopathic,” and a “bitch” on “almost every social-media tool possible,” and that’s not even the half of it. Her investors, loved ones and colleagues are catching some serious heat, too.
She says she’s gone viral and for all “the wrong reasons.” Her name has been smeared, slandered and slaughtered, dragged through the forever staining digital mud. Fake Twitter accounts in her name and likeness continue to burp up as part of the collective indigestion gurgling around her cruel-sounding concept of rating people like restaurants -- romantically, professionally and personally, stars and all. Petitions to stop Peeple’s release are gathering steam.
Still, Cordray is undeterred. The 33-year-old Canadian recruiter told Entrepreneur in a LinkedIn message over the weekend that Peeple will indeed launch as planned, despite the growing backlash surrounding it. And, no, it’s “not a hoax,” she assured us. It’s very real and it’s really misunderstood.
“Peeple will not be a tool to tell other humans how horrible they are,” Cordray wrote in a post she published on LinkedIn yesterday. “Actually, it’s the exact opposite,” she said. “Peeple is a POSITIVE ONLY APP. We want to bring positivity and kindness to the world. And now I’m going to use myself as an example for what can happen when negative comments can be made about you without your approval.”
Cordray, also the CEO of 96 Talents and Career Fox, told us that the company was registered in Canada in October 2014. When we asked why she didn’t appear on Good Morning America (GMA) to defend Peeple last week, as promoted in a Facebook post published by her startup, she said she didn’t go on the show “because [GMA] got bullied by people when they found out we were being supported by them.” This morning, she agreed to a phone interview with Entrepreneur, even providing valid contact details, but has yet to schedule a time to talk.
Meanwhile, Peeple, which Cordray co-founded with her best friend, Nicole McCullough, has completely vanished from the interwebs, aside from the glut critical headlines published about it, including ours. Not only is the official Peeple website gone without a trace, so are the startup’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. Cordray said in an open letter to Twitter today that she removed Peeple’s official account on the popular social media network because “we felt that Twitter is a place for abuse not business and they don’t do anything to protect its users.”
Her product, will, however, protect the reputations of its users, she claims, swaddling them in “ONLY THE POSITIVE.” In fact, “There is no way to even make negative comments,” on Peeple, she says, in a total reversal from her earlier stance.
Apparently Peeple, like its creators, is sorely misunderstood because now Cordray is positioning it as a feel-good, opt-in only social endorsement tool -- a mutual admiration society in which people can’t be talked about without first supplying their “explicit permission.” Contrary to Peeple’s FAQ, which has also mysteriously disappeared, she also said there is no 48-hour waiting period to scrub negative comments.
Bottom line: Like it or not, Peeple is coming, at least according to its makers, and people will have to deal with it. What about you? Would you rate your friends, colleagues and lovers on Peeple? We want to know. Tell us in the Comments section below.
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.