Tag Archives: arrington

Are Journalists Biased?

Everyone who is anyone in the blogosphere has read the stories about Mike Arrington and his investment policy update. We’ve read hundreds of offshoot posts and Tweets, all of which point fingers and take sides. You’ve seen the articles proclaiming that the author would never, EVER! allow themselves to be compromised or biased in any way. They are journalists, after all! Real journalists remember not to allow anything to enter their head while they compose beyond their subject matter. Nothing. Ever. Right?

The problem is that no one knows anymore what – exactly – the definition of journalism is. Dave Winer reminds us that it doesn’t actually matter:

“All the people participating in the “journalist or not” debate are insiders. Insiders get access to execs for interviews and background info. Leaks and gossip. Vendor sports. Early versions of products. Embargoed news. Extra oomph on social networks. Favors that will be curtailed or withdrawn if you get too close to telling truths they don’t want told.”

In his telling of this hot story, Tim Carmody points to Dave’s words. At the end of his narrative, Tim asks: “Are you in, with the compromised? Or are you out, with the truthtellers and true believers?” Those two questions jumped off the page at me. They brought me out of my self-avowed silence on this entire situation. I had chosen to stay silent for a reason: it’s not my place to judge any person other than myself. I certainly have no right to say what is “okay” for Arrington to do – or anyone else involved in this chronicle.

Tim’s questions aren’t actually fair. I truly believe there is not one single writer/journalist/blogger out there who is NOT compromised in some way. We all have a bias or two, whether we admit it or not. We are influenced every moment of every day – by our belief system, by the people we surround ourselves with and by life’s experiences. We may try our best to never allow these things determine the way in which we write, but it happens. Does this make us bad people? Hell no. Do our individual biases cause us to be less trustworthy as writers? Not always, no.

There is a HUGE difference between someone intentionally writing a story in favor of a company if they’re receiving kickbacks from said business and the person who softens their words when writing about the startup their significant other works at. The latter is still telling the truth – they simply choose to do so in a nicer/different way. This doesn’t make their piece inauthentic. It makes it warm and fuzzy. The former, however, is likely selling you a pile of utter crap. I know it’s difficult to tell the difference sometimes, and this is where transparency comes in. The people who tell you that they may have some type of bias are usually the ones you can count on. The ones who hide their partiality are the ones you likely need to read with a grain of salt.

Anyone who tells you that every word they write is 100% never influenced/biased/compromised by something is lying to themselves. I don’t care if you’re “in” or “out,” you need to be honest with yourselves – and your readers. Let’s remember that we’re all human, we’re all imperfect and we’re all biased. I still refuse to choose some “side” in this entire debate. For me, there’s nothing to choose other than to do my best to continue being forthright and making sure my community knows that I believe every word I write.

At the end of the day, that’s all any of us should ask for. Hold yourself accountable, and others will naturally follow suit.

TechCrunch and AOL: A Match Made in Heaven?

The web has exploded with news of AOL purchasing TechCrunch. Instead of rushing to throw a blurb here on my blog, I wanted to take time to read what everyone else is saying. What are people thinking about this massive merger of minds? Is the tech blog world as we know it about to end? Do readers hate this idea… or love it? It’s impossible to know how one feels about something so colossal unless you take the time to see what others have to say and digest it.

Make no mistake, fellow tech geeks: this is definitely colossal news. Yes, Mike Arrington is reportedly staying with the company. Yes, TechCrunch will retain editorial control. Yes, AOL promises more technology and stability behind the scenes. Yes, the entire TC staff is welcome to stay on in their current roles. Whether they will or not remains to be seen, of course.

When thinking only of those pros, one would think that nothing much will change. TechCrunch will be as important to us as it has always been. The site will continue to deliver the news in a way that makes us want to read, right? All of the people we love (or love to hate, in some cases!) are still going to have their bylines splashed across the juiciest articles. What’s the big damn deal about the sale, then?

Even though there are several amazing people working at TC, there is no doubt that the driving force behind it is Arrington himself. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that when he speaks (or writes), people tend to listen carefully. He’s never been afraid to say exactly what is on his mind about any subject at any time. He has Cojones made of steel, and uses them to post whatever the hell it is he feels the need to. This is what makes TC as vital and unique as it is.

I’m not trying to take away from writers such as MG Siegler or Jason Kinkaid. However, if any type of muzzle is placed on Arrington, the site simply will not be the same. The deal reportedly gives TechCrunch complete editorial control. Does that extend to allowing Mike to run with stories in HIS way whenever he wishes? Will he continue to be able to report stories such as AngelGate without having someone slap him on the hand and tell him no?

It’s going to be interesting to watch this development unfold, and to see where exactly it takes us. My sincere hope is that nothing will really change over there, other than a boost in hosting and technology. An infusion of new readers, commenters and “fans” is a welcome thing. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that nothing changes when it comes to the way the news and stories are told.

No Angel Secrets in the Valley After All

The biggest buzz on the Internet yesterday was Michael Arringtons’ post regarding a secret meeting involving ten of the most important VCs found in the Valley. Rumors flew fast. Speculation surrounded every word written. The people involved in the meeting were condemned before we even knew who they were. Yet, a few of us were skeptic. As I thought over the situation and wrote about it last night, I chose to stay on the high side of the road. After all, I wasn’t invited to the dinner either. I have no idea what the hell went on, any more than Mike himself. However, Dave McClure WAS there. And he’s decided to fill you all in on a few of their secrets.

You may not want to read Dave’s article if cursing offends you. He lays all of his cards right on the table for everyone to see. Much like Arrington himself, McClure pulls no punches. He tells it exactly like it is… whether you like it or not. As Dave points out, there are no conspiracy theories amongst the Valley VCs. There’s nothing screwy going on behind the closed doors. There is nothing for us to worry our pretty little investigative heads over at all.

at the dinner, there was a fair amount of kvetching about convertible notes, capped or not, hi/lo valuation, optimal structure of term sheets, where the industry was headed, who was innovating and who wasn’t, and 10 million other things of which 3 were kind of interesting and 9,999,997 weren’t unless you like arguing about 409a stock option pricing.

however, in addition to pricing & valuation, some of the more interesting things discussed were how can we increase access to startup capital (new geographies, new investors, Second Market, etc)… how can we increase M&A for startups & increase awareness of startups for non-tech acquirers… how can we increase startup innovation (more smart entrepreneurs, cool new platforms, better techniques for mentoring / entrepreneurship).

I don’t know about you, but I happen to think that these guys sitting down and talking through things such as these is a damn fine idea. They aren’t competing with each other. They aren’t trying to screw over anyone. They are simply putting their heads together to figure out a way to make things better in the startup and VC world.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing to see. Collaboration – it’s what the world needs more of!

Super Sleuth Mike Arrington Uncovers a Plot – or Does He?

I know from talking to people in our community that all of you either absolutely love Michael Arrington – or you hate him. Either way, you have to hand it to the guy today: he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is on the side of what is right. Is he always right himself? Of course not… none of us are. I don’t happen to always agree with him, just as many of you don’t agree with me every time I type something. If you ever doubted Mike’s intentions, though, today’s detective reporting should put an end to that.

The TechCrunch founder got wind of a super-secret meeting being held today, with ten of the heaviest-hitting angel investors involved. Mike did what he felt any good journalist would do… showed up at the meeting unannounced. Being friends with every person in the room, Michael fully expected a round of drinks to be had before he left them to their meeting. Instead, he was greeted by an awful lot of dead silence. No one even greeted him. Not one person offered him a chair. A few of those in the room even looked quite ashamed to be there.

Arrington did what he felt best and beat a hasty retreat. Then, of course, he headed to the computer to do what he does best. If even a few of his speculations are true, this could be quite a serious issue. However, what if the people were gathering together to discuss something innocent that they aren’t ready to unleash on the public as of yet? Wouldn’t that account for their secrecy? I know… I’m trying almost too hard to see the good side of things. These ten people have already been drawn and quartered in nearly every blog across the world. However, I’m still holding on to my optimism until we have cold hard facts.

Unlock Your Hotel Room with Your Cell Phone

I hate traveling. I love the places that I visit and the people I interact with when I get there. It’s the actual travel part that gets to me every time. There’s always such a rush to do everything, you know? Checking into my hotels is probably my least favorite task. God love ’em for what they do, but the desk clerks always make me batty. They’re always so helpful and happy. I know, it’s a good thing that they’re good at what they do. But when I check in, I’m usually frazzled and just want to pass out on my bed. Like all of you, though, I have to stand in line and then go through the entire process while talking to someone who is entirely too perky. InterContinental Hotels understands my frustrations, and is working on a plan to change things drastically.

Next month, InterContinental Hotels Group will start testing new technology at two of their Holiday Inn locations which allows guests to use their smartphones to unlock the doors to their rooms.

IHG exec Bryson Koehler thinks that the phones may be the perfect answer for weary (and harried) travelers. “The proliferation of smartphones is growing in such a way that we have to look at what people are already bringing with them to make their stay more enjoyable,” he said. “We don’t need to burden people with additional items; it just clutters up their lives. The beauty of the smart phone is that they’ve already got it.”

The test will begin in June at the Holiday Inn Chicago O’ Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center. To join the trial, participants will need to download an Open Ways app to their phone. Guests will call up the confirmation email on their screen and hold it up to a sensor on the door which will automagically unlock it.

What are your thoughts on this? If you have a smartphone and travel often, is this something you feel you would take advantage of?

You won’t need a smartphone OR a hotel stay to grab the hottest software and apps for your computers and mobile devices.

Bartz Curses Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt

Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz participated in a cozy little chat with TechCrunch CEO Michael Arrington earlier today during TechCrunch Disrupt. True to himself, Michael opened the chat by asking Carol “So how the fuck are you?” Niceties aside, Arrington got down to the nitty gritty.

There have been a couple of major changes over at Yahoo! in recent weeks. Personals are no longer a part of the site. Instead, Yahoo! and Match.com have teamed up to take dating to a new level. Additionally, the company just recently announced a deal with Nokia. Both of these moves show that the company is struggling to catch up and try to become the powerhouse they once were.

Michael asked some tough questions of Carol, such as: “How important is social to Yahoo?” Carol seemed to fumble through her answers at times, as though she wasn’t quite sure what to say. In response to that particular query, she quipped: “Back when social had a broad definition, you could almost say that Yahoo Finance chat was the first social product. We have a million comments a day now. We had 85,000 comments on day one at Yahoo News. And we’re merging in some of the big products like Twitter, etc. We’re doing some new cool things with Mail next month too. It’s about finding out the new things about people.”

I hate to tell you, Carol, but you guys are just a tad late to the party. If you want to consider the Yahoo Finance chat to have been the first social product, we’ll go ahead and give that to you. However, while other companies such as Twitter and Facebook have been dominating the field, Yahoo! has remained stagnant and forgettable. The claims of being “on 37 million of the 82 million mobile devices in the US.” honestly don’t ring very true. Take a glance around the Internet – ask people how often they use any of the Yahoo! site or services. I have a feeling you’ll be pretty shocked at the reply.

Arrington was ruthless in his questions to Carol regarding Google. He attempted to call her on a few things she has said in the past, when she claimed that Google “needs to grow a Yahoo every year — just go into a lot of businesses. They have to be a 20% grower.” What, exactly, are they supposed to be growing? Google has already carved out their niche, and they continue to expand on it nearly every day. Have we forgotten Google TV already, Ms. Bartz?

What bothers me most about this interview is Carol’s lack of professionalism. I don’t honestly care how much Arrington grills you… you don’t tell him to “fuck off” at the end of the interview. I know that she (and the audience) laughed it off, but it was a serious gaffe. She was frazzled by all appearances, and knew that Michael had gotten the best of her. Just moments earlier, she had stated that she is only “one of many” people who could do her job, and that that was “the beauty of it.”

Here’s a piece of advice: NEVER tell the world that others could do your job as well as you can, and then tell the CEO of a “very tiny” business such as TechCrunch to fuck off in front of a live audience. The point isn’t that she said it to Arrington. The point is that she said it at all. Sure, I curse on occasion. However, I don’t go around telling people to f*ck off when they have made me uncomfortable. You’re supposed to smile and nod your head. Give back as good as you get. Above all else… remain calm.

You get more flies with honey than you do with the F word. I’m willing to bet that the “many people” who could do her job wouldn’t have caused such an uproar.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that Carol’s send-off was appropriate, or something she should have likely kept to herself?

The Seattle Social Community is Growing

Ever since I moved here to Seattle, I’ve talked to all of you about how much I love it here. I love the people, the weather and the city itself. There are so many amazing people and companies within a short distance of where I live, and being able to network with them face-to-face is invaluable to me. It’s been exciting this week to read the news of two big names agreeing with me and making a home here in the Pacific Northwest.

On Monday, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced that he had moved his home to Seattle. He listed many reasons for this change, including pointing at the many awesome startups who have staked a claim here. Michael says that he has always felt that the Silicon Valley was the place to be if you had anything to do with startups and the people behind them. However, he now states that “But that doesn’t mean Seattle isn’t a hotbed of entrepreneurism. There are scores and scores of startups here that are doing innovative and disruptive things, and I want to get right in the middle of things. Be an insider instead of just an occasional visitor.” I couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t hurt that Seattle is also an absolutely beautiful place.

Photo credit goes to Tim Knight for this amazing shot of Lake Union and the surrounding area.

Today, I read that Facebook is moving in, as well. They are scouting locations for a new engineering office, and plan to have about 30 people employed there by next year. All of us who are locals already should be quite proud of what the official announcement said: “Seattle has a strong history of innovation and is home to thousands of talented technical people who we want to help us solve the challenges of designing and building the next generation of Facebook.”

Welcome Facebook and Mike Arrington! I have a feeling our paths will cross often as we all work together to continue to bring Seattle to the front of the social media and technology worlds.

Goodbye iFrame Toolbar – Hello Sites Now Unbanned on Digg.

Things sure are shaking up around the Digg offices this week. On his first official day as CEO, Kevin Rose has laid out a few interesting changes which should vastly improve the popular social networking site. The DiggBar we have all come to hate is going to finally disappear in the upcoming version of the site. Additionally, all previously banned domains will have their restrictions removed – not including those sites with malicious intent.

With surprising candor, Rose admitted that the toolbar was a mistake from the beginning. “Framing content with an iFrame is bad for the Internet. It causes confusion when bookmarking, breaks w/iFrame busters, and has no ability to communicate with the lower frame. It’s an inconsistent/wonky user experience.”

Both of these are positive moves for the site in my humble opinion. I have read thousands of rants regarding the toolbar, and I have a feeling that no one is going to miss it. Do you Digg? Are you looking forward to the changes? If so, you can sign up to beta-test the new version now. If you do, let us know what you think!

Your computer will “Digg” the hottest new software and apps that we’ve placed on our software center.

Is There Too Much Noise in Social Media?

An article over on TechCrunch today sparks an interesting thought. Michael Arrington states that “The online social landscape today sort of feels to me like search did in 1999. It’s a mess, but we don’t complain much about it because we don’t know there’s a better way.”. He continues that rationale by discussing how things used to be years ago, when we would use things like AltaVista to search, and end up with a bajillion unwanted results… never to find what we were really looking for.

Michael is right on the money when he discusses how decentralized everything is in the social networking landscape these days. I’m right there with him. I have updates, photos, posts and videos spread out over this huge spread of networks. I have friends on one that aren’t necessarily on another. Therefore, I feel the need to try and update everything all at once. Or… I could always use my new Lockergnome.net lifestream, and hope that everyone who follows me will join me there to keep up with me.

I’ve attempted to centralize things for all of you with Lockergnome. The problem is, as Arrington says, not everyone is everywhere. How on Earth are we ever going to update everyone – with all of our media and information – all at once?

Another problem that Michael touches on is an important one, as well. Often when we try to find something specific, we fail. It’s not because the information isn’t out there… it’s because at times what we need gets buried underneath things that aren’t relevant. Again, this circles back to the way search functionality used to be. If I’m looking for information about a specific trend on Twitter and search for it… I will often get hundreds of tweet results that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand. Spammers latch onto trending topics and keywords to get themselves noticed. I then have to wade through all of that looking for what is actually important, and relevant.

I am just as clueless as Micheal is when it comes to finding a solution to the noise pollution problem found on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. With millions of users each per day, it’s not going to be an easy task to straighten everything out. Are you inundated with noise on your social network? Are you tired of trying to sort through the junk to get to the good stuff? If you’re with me… what do you feel the answer is. IS it possible to weed out the bad, and only find the good?