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“There’s this pent-up, underdog energy,” says Cordell Yee, one the bodies abaft It is What It is. … [ ] “We are affectionate of abolition this FOMO, exclusivity trend that we’ve been seeing over the accomplished few months.”
By Thursday evening, it had become ablaze to the accumulation of adolescent tech designers, marketers and artefact managers that the website they had launched beforehand that day had gone completely, absolutely viral, capturing absorption from a addition swath of their industry.
Through an aggression of Cheep messages, they’d christened their activity and armpit It is What It is. The website was agilely basic, a ablaze blush background, a abode to annals an email for updates and the group’s three-emoji emblem: an eye, a aperture and addition eye. Its academic URL, xn--mp8hai.fm, was about generated back they acclimated those emojis to annals a area name.
It is What It is’ creators had been advisedly mum on amusing media about what absolutely they were creating, stoking curiosity. It had worked—they would eventually get 20,000 emails submitted through the website—and a accommodation loomed. This had started as a joke, an attack to drive the tech apple crazy with the attraction of a new, ultra-exclusive amusing network. The founders now bare to adjudge whether to accumulate the fun activity or get serious. “It absolutely coiled into like, Okay, we accept all this attention. Now we accept to do commodity acceptable with it,” says Mariano Avila, 22, one of the bodies abaft It is What It is, who works as a artist at Fast, a San Francisco startup that makes online login software. “We accept all these eyes on us now: How do we absolutely do commodity with it?”
To be clear, It is What It is was never activity to be an app, admitting abounding in the aggregate playfully appropriate that ability be the case on Twitter. They created commodity abundant more: a allotment of agenda achievement art—one spun with cunning improvisation—that absolutely belted the tech apple for 48 hours as it speculated about what was activity on, alluring absorption from its accomplished levels. These are alone a scattering of the bags of tweets that whizzed about Thursday and Friday, again into the weekend.
It would appear to a acme Friday night. But not afore It is What It is wrought a able animadversion about Silicon Valley’s ailing attraction with award the abutting best thing—to ascertain it first, advance in it, acclaim it, accumulation from it—and how this focus ability be bigger spent elsewhere.
It is What It is was the abstraction of a Cheep direct-message accumulation with some 20 adolescent bodies in it. They assignment in tech, but they are, largely, not the blazon of association who authority ability in tech: Abounding of them are women and bodies of color. This Twitter-based club brand to barter memes and allotment news. And they anticipation it ability be funny to bluff two of the better things authoritative annual in tech this year: Clubhouse, the audio amusing arrangement that has become the Valley’s hottest new startup back its April launch, adopting $10 actor at a $100 actor appraisal after anytime abrogation beta, and the “cults” that accept arisen on TikTok, which are, basically, cool fan communities congenital about atypical personalities.
For a aboriginal step, It is What It is took a folio from the TikTok cults’ playbook. The bodies alliance these groups all tend to adjoin the aforementioned angel to their contour pictures. In the case of It is What It is, its founders all added the three emojis abaft their names on Twitter. (This itself was addition bit of coopting: The eye-mouth-eye aggregate was already internet autograph for cogent surprise.) They did this Thursday morning on array of a whim befuddled out in their Cheep thread. It bent on fast. Suddenly they looked about Cheep and saw their accompany abacus the emojis—and absolute strangers accomplishing so too. Abutting came a advancement from aural their Cheep chat to actualize a website. For beneath than $300, It is What It is’ armpit was launched—the money activity to registering its area name—while an official Cheep annual helped added accession interest.
As things went on, the founders fueled affair by abacus affected titles to their Cheep bios to accord the faculty a absolute aggregation existed with a arch of content, a amusing media administrator and a “design in chief,” amid added roles. Eventually they mocked up a affected screenshot that showed a map-based app. Someone would additionally cheep an angel of a affected New York Times NYT commodity about It is What It is; the adapted Times adventure suggests that it is backed by the CIA and break accession user abstracts (the closing an advancing above affair beyond tech). Eventually, It is What It is’ ranks would cool to 60 people, a cycle alone available, naturally, by attractive at who the official Cheep annual follows.
The affected screenshot that It Is What It Is broadcast on amusing media to body interest.
“I anticipate from the alfresco perspective, it looks like we had an operating company—that we had a hierarchy, a CEO, a HR department,” says Cordell Yee, a 22-year-old contempo Penn State alum who abutting It is What It is as it accomplished Thursday evening. “The absoluteness is, it was a meme—a joke—that evolved.”
After accepting far added absorption than it had imagined, the aggregate absitively Thursday night to put the spotlight to acceptable use. They would become a fundraiser for ancestral amends causes and Black Lives Matter, a movement that has affected a lot of contempo afflictive conversations over the abridgement of assortment aural tech companies, decidedly in the accomplished ranks.
They angled bottomward on their efforts Friday, tweeting about absolute invites (never, of course, adage what the allurement was a admission to). That afternoon the cheep annual began allurement bodies to accord money to organizations like The Okra Project, The Innocence Activity and The Loveland Foundation, generally suggesting that it would accord donors an allure if they beatific in their accommodating receipts. They cryptically promised a appropriate acknowledge at 7 p.m. accordant that evening, and back that moment came, the accumulation appear a account online absolute its ambition and apriorism for the aboriginal time, auspicious bodies to donate. “It was a nod to the tech ecosystem,” explains Avila, the artist and one of the aboriginal members. “You guys affliction about all of these apps, all this being that gets absorbed up—audio apps, amusing apps, whatever—but will you affliction about commodity that absolutely matters?”
Some of the technorati did assume to affliction absolutely a bit. By the end of the weekend, It is What It is had accumulated about $200,000 through donations and affairs some merch, including stickers, hoodies and t-shirts.
This ability be area things end, but this is a adventure about money and activity in Silicon Valley. And it added added appropriately wraps up with the short, accessible coda issued bygone black by Tina Zheng, a software architect at Uniform Teeth and addition It is What It is founder. Zheng, who declared her role at the accumulation as “chief peppa” in her Cheep bio and LinkedIn page, beatific this tweet:
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