How it started
I was recently made aware of a product called Stitch. Stitch touts itself as
Team communication for healthcare providers, which is a niche market that could use a modern tool that offers the features the team claims their tool has. Such a product definitely has its place and as someone who has friends in the healthcare industry who are forced to use antiquated software, this would be a welcome addition.
Closed source is defined as:
Closed source (or proprietary software) means computer programs whose source code is not published. The source code is not shared with the public for anyone to look at or change. Closed source is the opposite of open source. Wikipedia
Enter Slack. Slack is a team communication tool that offers file uploads, bot support, a robust API, a killer UI, and other features. It is the most popular communication tool among programmers and various fields alike. It is also closed source which means that it can not be copied or altered in any way.
Let's bring the Internet Archive Wayback Machine into the mix. If you view this archived version of the Stitch website, you'll notice something really familiar about the screenshots of their purported application. They outright copied Slack's UI. To make things even more fun, their official Twitter account praises tweets that make direct comparisons to Slack. So not only do they steal the UI of one of the most popular communication applications out there, they revel in the similarities and use it as a marketing tool to push their own product. Shameful.
Here is the screenshot from the Wayback Machine archive for posterity:
Things get interesting
Let's step back a bit. After seeing the theft, I decided to confront the Stitch team. I submitted a ticket on March 23, 2016:
As of today, March 25, I have yet to receive a reply. Spurred by their lack of communication (or perhaps their scrambling after being called out), I decide to view their website again. You'll notice something interesting:
I submitted my ticket 2 days ago and today, they have:
- Completely removed the screenshots of their mobile apps
- Changed the desktop app UI screenshot entirely
At this point I'm just speechless. This company is getting praise all over Twitter, their team has presented at TCDisrupt, and has been highly praised by TechCrunch. A company that can't even come up with an original UI concept is handed funding that other honest teams should be given, and they are being treated like their idea is 100% original. The idea is solid but really, guys? You can't at least use some of that VC for a UI team that creates their own interface? Stop riding on the coattails of a team that consistently delivers innovation, honesty, and transparency.
The best part is that after scrambling to change while ignoring my ticket calling them out, their fallback design turns out to essentially be a modified Bootstrap theme.
Pathetic and insulting. If the Stitch team is touting their product as a
Slack-like communication tool for the healthcare industry and then changing their UI, isn't that the old bait and switch? Lying to your potential customers is appalling and that's how I interpret this debacle.
I'm curious to actually hear the Stitch team's feedback but their lack of response to my ticket says everything it needs to.