1. Early in the interview Daniel admits that he even published his first story without approval from TechCrunch editors.
I spent almost three years writing for The Escapist (http://escapistmagazine) and started when I was 16. When it came to writing and researching, I was given free reign. However, when it came to PUBLISHING, it was made pretty clear that an editor would have to vet the story before it was released. Editors would prefer that I call them on weekends and at least give them a heads up on the situation before releasing a story.
We might've differed from TechCrunch in that we strove for quality as opposed to breaking news. Point being that the Escapist editorial system worked very well, with everyone knowing the content going onto the site.
2. TechCrunch didn't have Daniel sign any paperwork or give him a title when he joined as an intern in June 2009.
3. In general, Daniel does provide a really good insight into how TechCrunch operates: management structure, the editorial process, etc.
4. Admits he doesn't really have any technical background.
5. Says the company involved was one that TechCrunch had covered multiple times before.
6. Says he never received the Macbook Air and the type of post the company requested was never written.
7. Says he has not extorted companies for products, but received products from Intel for an unrelated project he was involved with that he discusses on his blog.
8. The evidence used against him were joking IMs and emails.
9. Received an iMac from a friend who works at a tech company as a thank you for making an introduction to another company, not for TechCrunch posts. Then later wrote about one of the companies that was involved in a big legal discussion with Apple (iPod Rip).
10. Advice Daniel received from Mike Arrington the night before Teens in Tech (Daniel's conference): Neither party wants to have a public fight about this.
This was another quality Mixergy interview revealing Daniel's side of the story and more details about a still mysterious topic. The entire interview is worth viewing.
Has the "I was only joking" defense ever worked?
For a 17-year-old (even a fairly-well-connected one) an Air is a pie in the sky request. If he had asked for a nugget of platinum or an Oscar, it would have been obvious that he was joking. As it was, he (probably) asked for something that to him WAS obviously joking, but to most of us is an easily-attainable object; that inequity easily leads to the current situation.
I'm not saying that's how it happened (also: I have no inside information or anything) but this is why I'm not prepared to burn the kid at the stake for it. A lack of experience led to a critical mistake; one that I don't think he'll make again. It sucks for him that his mistake is so public, but that's that's the way it goes.
I've learned from painful experience that my discomfort with lying is not necessarily a good mental model for how other people feel about lying--some have no compunction at all, especially when self-interest is involved, so I'm slow to give the benefit of the doubt.
Beginning of January sounds good :)
I think the bigger story here is that he gets to have late night IM sessions with Woz. I'm jealous!
in June 2009 I was brought in as the Events and Business Development Intern. So I wasn’t hired as a writing intern. I started writing for TechCrunch by accident, actually. And it’s an interesting story. I was up at 2 AM and none of the other writers were up and a story broke about the iPhone 3GS Jailbreak and no one else was up and it was a breaking story, so I took a huge risk and I hit the publish button.
This guy is a risk taker. That includes good risks like the above, but also stupid risks like trying to roll some payola. Most risk takers who go on to become big successes make some stupid and unethical ones..
If Daniel can learn from this and restrict his "stupid"/reputation-breaking risks to his youth, he could go far with his can-do, proactive attitude. Even with this little payola scheme, he's still contributing a lot more to the world than the average 17 year old kid eating junk food and playing Xbox all weekend.
"I didn't want to do a confrontational interview where I'd either come down hard on him or slam TechCrunch. That's not me. I want to help build people up, not tear them down."
What I can't imagine is why he doesn't just publish the damn chat logs already - or at least excerpts. He's someone I would have loved to work with, and I very much want to trust him.
Personally, if I were starting my own tech blog, I think he'd be a fine person to have on the team because he's so multitalented. He'd make a great business partnerships coordinator and events coordinator.
Arrington's apology on techcrunch itself was obviously heartfelt and sincere (if not shocked) still well done for staying amongst the cool headed on this.