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Not so long ago, the questions people asked me at startup events required a little thought: “Who do you think is making smart investments right now?”; “Is funding really a problem in the local scene?”; “Would you like another glass of wine?”. Heady times. These days, things are a little bit easier because I only seem to get asked one of two questions: “Who’s StartupGrindr?”, and “Are you StartupGrindr?”.
And both have fairly simple answers (“I have no idea” and “No” respectively). Still, there’s no denying that the mysterious Twitter account has got everyone in the local startup scene talking. With its mix of cutting insights, blunt truths, and biting takedowns of high-profile figures, it’s injected a much-needed dose of humour into an industry that can sometimes take itself far too seriously.
None of that, of course, brings us any closer to figuring out who the hell StartupGrindr actually. But as anyone who’s been to more than one event at Workshop17 knows, the scene actually isn’t all that big. And that means there are only so many people it can be. We’ve therefore compiled a list of people who could potentially be behind the account as well as the reasons they probably aren’t.
The former 24.com head has had a little more time on his hands since leaving South Africa’s biggest online publisher and he is just about cynical enough to be a viable candidate. That said, he recently co-founded Delv, a data-driven agency still very much in the startup phase and probably couldn’t afford to piss off too many people if found out.
Also, there’s this:
Please have a higher opinion of us. https://t.co/MqK0bS99FR
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) May 27, 2016
As a former entrepreneur playing in the corporate space (he’s currently CTO at Sub-Saharan Africa at OLX), Ballot is well versed in the challenges faced by local internet and tech startups. Thing is, the vast majority of content on Ballot’s timeline comes in the shape of retweets, so it’s difficult to get a real gauge on his tone. And even when he does tweet, things don’t really get any clearer:
— Stephen Ballot (@stephenballot) May 14, 2016
Cartmel is one of the most committed entrepreneurs we know and is fully into the lifestyle, so we’re pretty damn certain he’s not StartupGrindr. He has however, enjoyed a couple of sparring sessions with the account:
— Paul Cartmel (@PaulCartmel) April 22, 2016
Nope. Still not me.
Our publisher, who has been accused of being @boltondeventer, denies that he’s behind the account. We didn’t really need him to tell us that though, a selection of StartupGrindr’s responses to his tweets speaks for itself:
5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Gwede Mantashe's Presser https://t.co/Cs2tQwMJ89
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) April 2, 2016
Assuming your only benchmark is other Netprophet lineups, this is true https://t.co/Rrqe0D5L7E
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) April 4, 2016
Luckily you work with a crack team of investigative journalists. Oh no wait it says FORMER Carte Blanche https://t.co/oYz3m7lJBp
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) April 14, 2016
My erstwhile colleague does occasionally pretend to have a cynical streak, but he’s actually a really nice guy who’s willing to share his own business lessons.
Before he left us to become a trends analyst, Coetzee got really into startups. We doubt things have changed radically enough for that to have changed.
The account name parodies the organisation he works for, so I think we can rule that one out.
We can’t be the only ones to have had this thought. The Labs.fm founder is also one of the few people StartupGrindr hasn’t taken a swing at.
At least one Twitter user had the same thought, but StartupGrindr’s reply shut that down pretty quickly.
Ask yourself: when last did you last see a Wumdrop vehicle? Now ask that question again. https://t.co/yNpmFh4aU0
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) April 15, 2016
Anyone who’s seen Haralambous rage against Silicon Cape startups pretending they’re in Silicon Valley might have put him right at the top of this list. Until, they take a proper look at StartupGrindr’s timeline, that is:
Pick a niche, Nic. https://t.co/lHasty8jGi
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) April 26, 2016
aka his entire Motribe exit https://t.co/1i3AWmiOFl
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) May 12, 2016
We doubt it:
I would, but what if I need a knockoff iPhone cable next week? https://t.co/ed21f0lVmC
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) April 14, 2016
Highly unlikely. Matthei is one of the nice guys of the South African tech and startup scenes.
While Kettles has come in for less flack on StartupGrindr than most, he hasn’t been immune to it:
— Startup Nakamoto (@StartUpGrindr) May 4, 2016
Here’s the thing: van Zyl is pretty straight-up about the strengths and weaknesses of the local ecosystem. We doubt he’d need a parody account to get his message across.
Well, we haven’t heard much from Ekaya for a while now and Melville isn’t exactly averse to delivering a cutting remark…
Dingle is our publisher Matthew Buckland’s new favourite suspect for the StartupGrindr account. There may be something to this theory too. Dingle does have the knowledge and the cutting wit for the role. Next time you see him at an event, ask him. We’re sure he’ll appreciate it. Alternatively, you could just choose to believe this tweet thread and move on with your life.
— Simon Dingle (@SimonDingle) June 21, 2016
If you think you know who StartupGrindr is, let us know in the comments section below.