Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Pay For Play: Blog Investing as "Hush Money"

If you love Internet drama—and why wouldn't you? It's so spiritually refreshing and intellectually fulfilling!—don't miss the current "Silicon Valley tech reporter/investor" throw-down happening at multiple showcases near you. Here's a pretty good entry point: "This started when Nick Bilton of the New York Times posted an item criticizing Path, which had been caught up in a firestorm when it emerged that Path had been uploading entire address books from people’s iPhones. Bilton made the legitimate point that it’s now become a routine for Valley companies to do something sleazy, get caught, then quickly apologize and get hailed as heroes by the Valley for the quality of their apology…. Anyway — Path comes under fire, and guess who rides to the rescue? Michael Arrington, who runs CrunchFund, an investor in Path, launches a blistering critique of Bilton himself." Then it gets ugly: "another VC recently told me his firm recently had passed on opportunities to invest in some new tech blogs that were proposing a business model he described as 'hush money.'" If you really want to get into it you can read Arrington's response or MG Siegler's (basically: "His words reek of jealousy. Of disillusionment. He’s angry. He doesn’t get it.") or go visit a bunch of peoples' Twitters, all of whom are very agitated! The narcissism is also amazing.

8 Comments / Post A Comment

shorter everything: overmoneyed white dudes be trippin'

Leon (#6,596)

As a dude who works at a tech startup in a far from high-ranking position (even in a small company, there are peons) this shit is infuriating. Our tiny niche B2B industry has niche industry blogs, and if you frequently "buy ad space" on those blogs, you get better coverage, win better awards, etc.

Which sucks, because all of that is money that should be better spent investing in people – people to write better code, do better QA, provide better software support, run user groups, provide operational support.

The capital invested in "ad buys" for these fake journalists is a real loss of capital which could be spent growing the company in a meaningful way. This leads to a negative impact on actual job creation.

brianvan (#149)

Would there be anything wrong with throwing these people in jail? I'm willing to put the Bill of Rights on hold for these douchenozzles.

The funny thing is that Bilton's employer is guilty of doing the same "cover only the people generating the most hot air" routine. The Times seems not to be interested in the legit 95% of the industry. But if a pea rolls out of Nick Denton's ass or one of Mark Zuckerberg's triple-chromosome siblings starts up a new lemonade stand, they're all over it!

NinetyNine (#98)

Siegler is also an employee (investor?) of CrunchFund.

Also fun: Paul Carr praising Murdoch (!!!) for protecting loyal employees (OMERTA!11!!!) the day the Guardian reports that an internal News Corp committee is likely the source of info that led to nine Sun employee arrests.

jolie (#16)

If he had used '3' in place of 'three' he could have spelled 'tomorrow' out in full.

logan (#2,811)

As always, Brian distilled this issue pretty well last night. Here are a few of his crucial tweets, in reverse chron:
@blam @joeljohnson it's not ok or not ok. it just makes sense and no one should be surprised. it's boring to be surprised by it. obvious.
@blam If you don't get why @arrington @parislemon invest you have a shallow understanding of power. But they can't attack others $ motives either
@blam there are few actual story arcs in technology news. People play make believe like Gi joes

More here

It's kind of an interesting doublethink when MG Siegler says that most tech writing is total bullshit, and that now that he's on the other side of the coin, investing in businesses, he has a clearer perspective.

He's directly legitimizing the idea that the only people who know enough about the technology world to accurately write about the technology world are people who are directly involved in building and running technology companies.

In other words, his vision of tech journalism is for investors to write the news. Literally. It's kind of a thoroughly amazing rationalization. Like it's so bizarre and Orwellian that you can't really imagine how anybody could buy it.

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