The European business networking site Viadeo recently opened up an office in San Francisco. They have been courting SF New Tech and I was intrigued enough to try out their service. In the process, I had my professional credibility compromised after they emailed thousands of my contacts an invitation to join their service under my name without my permission.
Here is the apology I am sending out to everyone affected. I have a pit in my stomach over this entire incident.
Dear Friends, Family, Colleagues and anyone else who may have received an email from me to join Viadeo.com recently –
Please accept my apologies if you recently received an unsolicited email from me inviting you to join “my network” on Viadeo. You never should have been emailed. I’m sorry.
Here’s what happened …
The other day I was invited to try the European business networking site Viadeo. During their sign-up process, they presented a prompt to learn who else I may know that was already using their service. All that was required was for me to provide my email credentials — something I’ve made a personal policy never to plug in to ANY site. For some reason I trusted them when they said “Emails or any other information will be neither sent nor saved. Messages will not be sent to your imported contacts unless you choose to do so through Viadeo.”
When they scanned my contacts, they notified me there were 45 people I knew that were already using their service and I was asked to “Invite them to join your Viadeo contacts”. I agreed to invite them into my network there and low-and-behold, Viadeo then proceeded to email EVERYONE in my Gmail address book an invitation to their service under my name — including you. (See below for a screen shot)
I am truly sorry that you were emailed by this company under the auspice I was sending you a legitimate invitation. Please trust, I know better than to spam people with invitations to join random internet services. (I often get asked to do this and I always say NO.)
Please feel free to disregard this invitation if you haven’t already acted upon it.
If you already accepted the invitation (and dozens of you have) please be hyper-aware of how you proceed with their service.
I am currently in discussions with this company to help them ensure this never happens again.
Again, I’m sorry.
Founder, SF New Tech
The largest, longest-running, and most-loved tech event in the Bay Area
sfnewtech.com // @sfnewtech // @sfnewtechjobs
Below is a screenshot of the “trap” I fell into. Where it says “121 of your contacts already use Viadeo” is where it said 45 contacts initially. (I recreated the process with an alternate email address of mine). Notice the scroll bar not signifying a large set of data/content… and notice how I was “duped” into pressing send. Identities of people on this page have been hidden for privacy.