Bay Area startup company Buildzoom was experiencing an unusual problem back in July. It appeared that the company’s computers and tablets were disappearing from right under its nose.

Buildzoom co-founder David Petersen recalled how he alerted to the problem of the missing equipment:

“An employee, he called me on my way to work and he says,‘Hey Dave, are you playing a practical joke on me? My computer’s missing.’”

After it became apparent that many computers and tablets were missing, Petersen set up a camera in the office to identify who was responsible for the missing $30,000 in materials.

It worked. The cameras revealed a woman sneaking into the office with a Buildzoom bag. She would then discreetly shove Buildzoom’s gear into the bag before taking off.

Of course, Buildzoom faced a new problem: identifying the thief. So, after finding that posting the picture online and on the company blog wasn’t turning up any results, Petersen came up with a creative tactic to disseminate the picture.


Rightly reasoning that the picture would gain greater exposure through Tinder’s network of users than Buildzoom’s company blog and other social media outlets, Peterson placed the offender’s picture on a Tinder account with a message.

The message read:

“I rob offices in SF, $5,000 reward for identifying me.”

Within two days, Petersen got a response with an identity and a picture. Petersen has promised that he will pay the $5,000 reward if the information leads to the woman’s arrest.

When asked for a response to the story of their app being turned into a mini-sting operation, Tinder could only say, “This is a very creative use of our platform. We’re happy to hear that Tinder is helping people connect for a variety of reasons.”


It is this type of outside-the-box thinking that makes Bay Area startup culture so fascinating.