Glassdoor, the site that lets employees anonymously review their companies, is acquiring Fishbowl, an app that allows users to have “candid and relevant conversations about workplace topics,” as a press release about the deal demurely puts it.
In reality, both platforms allow workers to share sometimes scathingly harsh, anonymous takes on their employers and colleagues—Fishbowl is particularly popular among cranky advertising industry pros—and the combination of the two companies offers a blunt bulwark against the more straightlaced and polite LinkedIn.
Fishbowl will now be known as “Fishbowl by Glassdoor.” Terms of the transaction were not revealed, but Glassdoor has access to vast resources. Launched 14 years ago in San Francisco, Glassdoor was acquired in 2018 for $1.2 billion by Tokyo-based human resources conglomerate Recruit, which also owns the Indeed job-listings site. In May, Recruit reported revenue in the fourth quarter ended March 31 of $5.61 billion.
Fishbowl, which is available as a free app on both iOS and Android devices, was launched, with a focus on the consulting industry, by San Francisco technologists Matt Sunbulli and Loren Appin in 2016. By 2017, Fishbowl opened itself up to advertising agency employees. Although users can choose to post anonymously, the app requires a work email address for verification at sign-up.
Ad agency employees quickly turned the app into the go-to place for sharing workplace insights—and sometimes content—that their employers would obviously prefer they wouldn’t. In 2018, for instance, Ad Age reported about the posting on Fishbowl of a Havas video that the company said was intended only for internal use. “Havas calls BBDO, FCB and Leo Burnett ‘shitty’ in video, and we have the reactions,” as our headline put it—and those reactions, as seen on Fishbowl, ranged from “What is this even?” to “Actually, these guys are right on the fucking money.”