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The actual apology:

Recently we launched a site with several pages copied from 37signals' Highrise. We did more than take inspiration from their design - we actually used html & css code, and hotlinked to images on their site. We apologize to David and 37signals for ripping off their work. It was stupid, lazy, and disrespectful of their creative efforts. It's particularly painful for us to have done this to 37signals because they are big heroes of ours. We just hope they will accept our apologies.




One wonders how this ever happened and why on Earth they didn't have HTML and front-end skills enough to do their own presentation.

The fact that their blog is now down with a database error does not exactly inspire much confidence.


They're sitting around and one of them reads the 37 signals blog post about A/B testing and conversion rates. He says "Dude, do you think their landing page will actually convert better than our current one?" "I don't know, lets try it."

So one of them snags the source from Highrise and changes some images around. I'm sure he previewed it, it looked fine and he published it. He probably forgot to change out the button images because they looked fine.

Who knows if this is how it happened, but it really seems like it could have been an honest (but definitely pretty stupid) mistake.


Any developer with any intelligence or skill doesn't do that. You don't just 'publish' something. As a developer there is no way I can imagine this being done innocently because it is something that is always at the forefront of your mind.


Are you an entrepreneur? If you are, and you've had any success, I'm sure you've "just published" something along the way. It's actually a rather important skill. Not that you should copy and paste something to try it out - you definitely shouldn't - but quick and dirty trial implementations are fairly common.

Edit: Not sure why this is getting downvoted, anyone care to explain? Action in startups is not always deliberate.


perhaps because of the condescending tone of your "and youve had any success" sentence.


Ah thanks. Rereading that, I can see what you mean. I mostly said that to caveat that there are many ways to do entrepreneurship badly, and most of the successful paths involve some amount of shooting from the hip.


I have to agree with you here... Working in a startup is a hectic and crazy lifestyle which involves lots of mistakes, lots of learning, and lots of "hurry up and get x (feature, fix, etc) out the door", which results in mistakes being made. We can all sit around and pretend that we all write bullet proof, meticulously tested, beautiful code all the time and only release things that have been tested extensively and peer-reviewed, but that's just not how it works in the real world most of the time.


I did not down vote, but I thought I'd just point out the part that I thought could be taken offensively. :)


It's not too hard to imagine. Some designer was assigned to replicate the page and he did the easiest thing possible. They probably figured nobody gives a crap, and they would normally be right. But for whatever reason somebody decided to call these particular guys out and for whatever reason this particular case caught on the tech sites.

I would bet money there is not one web designer here who has never taken a tiny snippet from another site. It's kinda more of a matter of the quantity of content that they took. Plus the hot linking was especially dumb.


How old are you guys? Not making a judgement, genuinely just wondering.


I think they're in their mid-20s. They screwed up, apologized, asked how they could make it right, got crucified some more, and now have fully prostrated themselves before DHH and the court of public opinion. It's a horrible experience for them, and I reckon they've learned something. One of the lessons they've likely learned is that people are perfectly cool with successful, experienced entrepreneurs casting endless screeds against inexperienced folks who should have known better but didn't. Wonder if they'll have a chance to apply that lesson when/if they become successful themselves. Given their penitence, a little mercy is in order.


"and hotlinked to images on their site."

Jesus...............


It boggles the mind!


I have multiple responses to multiple comments on this thread, so I'm going to continue here.

For full disclosure, I'm a young entrepreneur (<25), run a company that was started a few months after curebit (my cofounder applied and interviewed for the same YC class with a different idea), have raised pretty close to what curebit has raised, and am also a 500startups-funded company.

I'd just like to take a minute to hope that a couple of screw ups by others won't put companies like ours at a disadvantage. It makes me sad to think that "how old are you guys" is one of the first questions someone would ask, since I'm not sure physical age has anything to do with how people react to different situations. I'd sure like to think that if I screwed up people would chalk it up to me being me and not my generation.

I also hope people realize the big mouth investor with no taste (especially in what he wears ;) isn't the only person vetting 500startup companies. He has a whole investment team. Yes, Dave does pick a lot of the 500s companies himself (he was our biggest advocate), but the entire 500s team has a say. I also think you're overlooking the fact that curebit was also supported by YCombinator (and Dave has a lot of respect for PG's team and the companies they accept).

I don't condone what curebit did (far from it). I am close to positive someone at YC would have at least helped hash out ideas for design (and 500s' mantra is design, data, distribution), and, Dave has always said: running lean doesn't mean running cheap. But I hope that what one company does doesn't ruin it for the rest of us.


I was the one who asked their ages. I'm 22. I was just wondering.

I knew that if I just asked "how old are you?" it would come off as a snarky comment on the situation. That's why I also included "Not making a judgement, genuinely just wondering."

While I wasn't trying to tie age to the issue at hand, I would have to disagree with your assertion that physical age doesn't have anything to do with how people react to different situations. Maybe experience is the real driver but obviously that is closely related to age. Either way that's neither here nor there.

As for the rest of your comment, I'm not totally clear on what you were trying to get across or who you were responding to but it still doesn't seem like it deserved to be down voted.


this is an example of the kind of sloppy stuff that happens when an angel investor with a big mouth and no taste puts money into 500 startups. you can't expect the best folks are gonna work with c-rate investors. cut rate investors = cut rate entrepreneurs. shame on this company for their blatant theft.


thanks. think you meant "when an angel investor with a big mouth and no taste like 500 Startups puts money into..."

regardless, we don't shy away from helping our founders, even should they go astray. not proud right now, but we hope to be helpful where possible.

live & learn.


Dave, I wanted to tell you that I think the way you were handling the situation with DHH on Twitter was great! I saw a video on YouTube titled "the last lecture" a while back, and the biggest takeaway for me was how the guy defined an apology:

Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I’m sorry that I hurt you. 3) How do I make it better? It’s the third part that people tend to forget…. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.

This has stuck with me and I noticed you were following on it very well, patiently and with humbleness.


The most import part of that apology formula is missing, actually meaning it. Also if the answer to #3 is obvious (ie stop doing what your apologizing for) then one shouldn't have to ask.


Exactly. When I'm hurt by, and/or furious at someone, the last thing I want to do is spend cycles coming up with how they can make it better. Someone did me wrong and now they want me to figure out how to fix it? Hearing someone ask me that would make me even more mad and hurt.


I always thought the best approach is to ask; not in a stupid way, but in a well-meaning way. As an example say I rear end your car during the morning traffic hour. I ought to get out of my car and say i) I should have been driving more carefully, clearly I have ruined your day, ii) You seem to be dressed for work so now you're going to be late because of me, probably going to be distracted the rest of the day, and will be hassled with car repairs and insurance claims - I am very sorry about that iii) Let me at least pay for your damages (insurance deductible), give you a ride to work (or pay for a cab), and please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you with any inconveniences caused by this incident.


dave, what do you think should be allan's response here.. because this is stupid enough to actually be true and an honest mistake. But this is something thats going to stick around especially with dhh making so much noise, which he have every right to. I mean a startup might dig themselves into a hole like this sometimes.. so is "fix it, apologize and move on" a solution or as it seems to be the case here , allan has apologized thrice ...


Dave, your founder has a pattern of stealing not just from 37signals..

Guess what? The issue will not die this weekend..

What is your plan B?


I don't envy you right now. It must be akin to apologizing to your neighbor while your pet donkey is run amok in their flower bed.


None of that post makes any grammatical sense.

This is beyond the pale and it is not a case of 'live and learn'. Every single one of us as developers have taken the page layouts of others, even looked at their code and then coded something ourselves based around it. What you don't do is list layout code straight and insert your own images and URLs. I take it you're investing enough to employ people with HTML, CSS and front-end skills?

Will you throw some funding at me please?


Does creating all these throw away accounts impact the system much? You know you're gonna say something offensive to someone so you create a burn account.


PG would obviously need to clarify; but I assume he clears out the accounts with just a few comments that have almost never been logged-in to.

The only way to try and stop it is to prevent people being able to create a new a/c from an ip address they were using to login with on their proper account. (and maybe penalize them for trying).

That's probably a fruitless effort though with proxies et al.


One solution that is employed by some sites (SBNation, for instance) is to have a period of time (a day or a few days) after signing up before a person is able to comment. That way genuine new users are forced to lurk a bit and learn the ways of the community and it could also prevent things like the people creating burners just to come say stuff they aren't willing to associate with their real name. You'd also largely prevent stuff like the Reddit invasion on SOPA day, etc.




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