Note to startups: Turn off “track changes”

by Mathew on May 9, 2008 · 12 comments

Some of you may have seen this already, since it has been passed around on Twitter, but I just had to point to Rick Segal’s hilarious blog post about a startup that did everything right in its business plan — right up until it sent the document without clicking the “accept changes” menu item in Word. So when Rick (who is a VC with J.L. Albright in Toronto) looked at the impressive business plan, what he saw in the margins were all the edits and comments made by the team and their advisors, including:

  • “Segal used work for Microsoft so skip the name dropping, save it for the afternoon meeting, they are clueless about Redmond.”
  • “When you talk through this point on your slides, make Chanukah jokes, he is Jewish and will get them”
  • “I’d delete this section since we don’t have these features on the roadmap and haven’t figured out how to code this unless you believe the investors won’t catch this.”
  • “VCs are typically stupid when it comes to this section so be prepared for a dumb question blizzard.”

Hysterical. I’m trying to imagine someone on the executive team at that startup — or on their advisory board — reading the post and gradually realizing with horror that it’s theirs. Priceless. For what it’s worth, Rick says he thought it was funny and wouldn’t hold it against the company. For other examples of the dangers of Word’s “track changes” function, you might want to talk to the British government, or to someone with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, or someone in the Bush administration’s environmental unit, or lawyers for the SCO Group. You can find lots more examples here.

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Oy vey.

  • ash

    From what I understand there's a way to clean documents in Word so that tracking info is removed (so you can still use it for editing, but create a document copy without change history).

    Nice little summary here :http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kimkomando/2006-01-19-hidden-msword-data_x.htm

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  • http://www.storyofmylife.com/antje antje

    Those poor guys…. lol….. good thing they have a sense of humour

  • http://tresvioletas.com Alex

    A rabbi, a priest and an imam walk into a bar…

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  • http://www.BizNoteBuyer.com Buy Business Note

    Very good tip. I would have never thought that such a small thing could cause such a major problem. Sometimes we have too much technology for our own good <g>

  • http://www.harebrained.com Dave Carter

    At a former employer, a friend didn't notice that the spellchecker had done a global replace on “engr” (an abbreviation of “engineer”) with the word “negro” before he sent it to a very wide distribution list. Hilarious result in many of the replacements, as you can imagine….

  • http://www.r4ds.com.mx/ r4

    Thanx for the valuable information. This was just the thing I was looking for, keep posting. Will be visiting back soon.

  • http://www.slowry.com/ Shane

    This was too funny. I was working on a document and trying to get the comments out and stumbled across this page.

    Luckily not as disastrous a consequence, but funny none the less.

  • http://www.slowry.com/ Shane

    This was too funny. I was working on a document and trying to get the comments out and stumbled across this page.

    Luckily not as disastrous a consequence, but funny none the less.

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