- A mysterious combination of three emoji — 👁👄👁 — recently captured the attention of the tech industry on Twitter.
- The hype the project created, and the secrecy surrounding a purported app called It Is What It Is, was successful in getting thousands of interested users to clamor for invites and Silicon Valley elite donating to racial justice funds.
- In a statement posted late Friday night, the team behind the project revealed that what started as a meme shared among friends became something bigger than the group ever expected, and was
- With “It Is What It Is,” the team demonstrated how Silicon Valley is attracted in droves to secrecy and exclusivity, as was shone with invite-only app, like pay-for-email service Hey and audio-chat platform Clubhouse.
- According to team member Regynald Augustin, the team — a group of around 60 young people of color in tech — has raised more than $200,000 for Black Lives Matter fundraisers.
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A group of young people of color in tech were recently able to raised thousands of dollars after demonstrating the hype they manufactured in Silicon Valley by pushing exclusivity and secrecy.
On Thursday night, the tech industry was introduced via Twitter, en masse, to this emoji combination: 👁👄👁. Word spread about a mysterious project called “It Is What It Is,” as Silicon Valley clamored to figure out what the hype was all about and how the elite could secure their own access to the invite-only platform.
The team behind “It Is What It Is” posted a statement late Friday night revealing more information about the project. In the statement, the team says the project started as a “meme in our small group chat,” but capitalized on Twitter’s “hype cycle” to drive donations to causes fighting systemic racism and racial injustice.
“We’ve done pretty well for a non-existent product, the team wrote in the statement. “But honestly, we didn’t have to think too hard: in this moment, there’s pretty much no greater issue to amplify than the systemic racism and anti-Blackness much of the world is only beginning to wake up to,”
In the day-and-a-half since 👁👄👁 started appearing across Twitter, the team has raised more than $200,000 for charities supporting the Black community and trans people of color, according to Regynald Augustin, an engineer at Twitter who helped helped launch the project.
Augustin told Business Insider that a group of around 60 20-somethings in tech who are people of color were behind “It Is What It Is.”
Many have struggled figure out what was really going on and whether this is a real app — or something else — or merely an elaborate satire of tech marketing. The website doesn’t help explain any further: The only clickable thing on it is a box directing you to “give us ur info,” where you can enter your email to, presumably, get on the app’s waitlist.
Nonetheless, the team behind IIWII has successfully captured the tech industry’s attention ahead of a teased announcement for Friday night at 7pm PT. On Twitter, the @itiseyemoutheye team issued a statement later that night to reveal IIWII started out as an elaborate meme that took on a life of its own, which the team took to amplify the issues of racial injustice and encourage people to donate to Black Lives Matter fundraisers.
Both the name and the emoji (👁👄👁) associated with the app are, expectedly, based in meme culture, as Josh Constine first pointed out. The emoji can be traced back to this YouTube video from last year, and is now freely used across social platforms for “expressing surprise, shock, anger, or disgust,” according to Urban Dictionary.
The name — It Is What It Is — goes beyond a commonly used idiom. The audio from this video of a group of teens echoing these words has, since then, become a popular soundtrack for short videos on the viral app TikTok.
More than 40 young software engineers and recent college graduates in the tech industry are displaying the app’s Twitter handle — @itiseyemoutheye — in their profiles, with job titles like “cheerleader,” “head of fun,” “chief gay,” and “chief optometrist.” These faux titles are reminiscent of the trend on TikTok where users put “CEO of” in their account descriptions.
While the majority of tweets regarding the app have thus far been forms of trolling, and rows of 👁👄👁, users associated with the project also have successfully gotten the attention excitable techies to try scoring an invite. It Is What It Is has shared links to charities supporting the Black community and trans people of color, including the Okra Project, the Lovaland Therapy Fund, and Solutions Not Punishment.
The people behind It Is What It Is seem to be onto something. The dramatic pull of exclusivity and secrecy in Silicon Valley was demonstrated earlier this year, after an invite-only audio-chat app called Clubhouse launched in beta. Although the app has just 5,000 users, it’s already valued at $100 million.
Business Insider tried to reach out on Twitter to some of the users who seem to be associated with the app. The only response we got: “It Is What It Is.”
You can read the statement from It Is What It Is in full below:
—it is what it is (@itiseyemoutheye) June 27, 2020