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The Real History of TechCrunch (uncrunched.com)
356 points by zastrowm on Feb 19, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments



This is a very important lesson for Michael Arrington and many people reading this can learn from it without losing too much emotions or money themselves:

Someone, who claims this to be a cofounder of your business even once, is not your friend! Don't support their claims, don't pity them. They try to exploit you.

This kind of person is really good at keeping you emotionally hooked, and therefore even let you find excuses for their behaviour. Think for yourself: Would you claim ownership over their pet project like that? Probably not.

So be strict with yourself and let that person go. The earlier the better. They won't change. Your interpretation is not wrong. It's not your fault. And most importantly: You have earned and will find true friends that support you. And with them together you will make lots of money if you have that in you.


Is the same true of Musk who was an A round investor in a company already founded by Eberhard and Tarpenning?


While not one of the original co-founders, Musk has devoted enormous amounts of time, money and energy into Tesla since nearly the beginning, which I think makes him close enough to a co-founder. If you read Arrington’s post, he even says the same about Heather —- not technically a co-founder but one in practice given the amount of work she put in.

The guy he is calling out is alleged to have put zero time or money in — he just grabbed what he could.


I had no idea until this thread that Elon Musk hadn't been with Tesla from the beginning. I presume reasonable people can disagree, but, no, I don't think leading someone's A round, even if you take an operational role at some point afterwards, makes you a "cofounder".


Agreed.

This is kind of like Warren Buffett taking over Berkshire Hathaway.

But now Musk is definitely the face and head of the company same as Buffett. That is what counts for most people after everything is said and done.


If Tears had NO claim to TC then why would Arrington willingly give up 10%? Pity? I don't think so. Not his style. Did they have a written agreement about the 75/25 split that muddied the waters? Possibly. We're definitely not getting the whole story and both sides most likely remember things quite differently now.


I thought Tesla was Musk's company until now. Apparently they actually reached a settlement with Eberhard to officially call Musk (and another two people) "founders" even though they actually weren't. https://www.cnet.com/news/tesla-motors-founders-now-there-ar...


Yes, it's often the case that "founder" is a label which a company might agree to add or subtract from various people.

As an example, there are tons of startups where not everyone who was there on day 0 is called "founder".


That is correct. Founder has to do with risk. If you are paid from the start, you're probably not a founder.


I know a lot of founders who got paid from the start. That's not the only way that there's risk.


Like Bill Joy: John Gilmore (first employee) was already on board when Joy joined the Sun team.


I would argue that without Musk's PR Tesla would be worth not 10% of what it's worth today. So yeah, he probably earned his seat at the time. I wasn't there though, so can't make a final judgement.

Btw putting in work to earn one's place is something completely different from letting someone else work and simply claim the success. At least from my perspective.


Based on the comment below yours, it seems like a good way of lying to yourself. Not all situations call for what you are saying. Sometimes they are right and you are in the wrong, and you need to correct it. Not necessarily this situation, but many.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16411597

We're really good at justifying our actions. Really, really good. I'd imagine Keith is on the other side of that, and correct or not, has talked himself into believing he's the good guy. But one of them has to be wrong, so the advice that "your interpretation is not wrong" is often wrong.

Similar example: what Jobs did to Kottke in refusing to give him any stock, for valid reasons to Steve, certainly, doesn't mean Steve wasn't wrong. Would rather not say these things because it's not going to win friends, but you are encouraging destructive behavior yourself. There's no easy rule.


I wouldn't be surprised if there were 10x (at least) the number of employees who have gotten screwed out of the winnings, that is, who should have been considered founders, vs. those who overclaim founder status.


I won't say a huge deal about this, as I now work with Keith again, and haven't spoken to Mike for years, but I'm extremely surprised to see this version of events, as when I worked on Edgeio (I built the prototype, and managed the dev team for a while and continued to build the system) while Edgeio's and Techcrunch's offices were both in the house Mike rented in Atherton (Edgeio was largely built from the bedroom across from Mike's and the hall outside his room, while Techcrunch's office was his bedroom...), I got a very different impression from Mike in person.

E.g. "started hanging out at my house and meetups" is a curious characterisation when Mike's house was literally the shared offices for both for quite a while.

Mike at least once described Techcrunch to me as growing out of the work done to do research for Edgeio, and Archimedes Labs as a partnership between the two. Though it is possible for both that and Mike's version now to be true, my impression as someone who was there was always that both companies (Techcrunch and Edgeio) were shared projects, and Mike did nothing to dissuade that impression though it was clear Techcrunch was more Mike's baby than Keith's.

Of course I was never privy to whatever discussions the two of them had behind closed doors.

EDIT: Here [1] is an archive.org link from 2005, that lists Mike and Keith equally, on a post posted by the web designer who also did a lot of early work on Edgeio, describing them both as editors and Techcrunch as part of the "Archimedes Ventures" family. It was hard from that kind of presentation at the time to not see it as something they co-founded. I don't want to go into it further, as that'd be speculation on my side too (and of course what Mike let someone put on the site does not have to reflect what he thought about it in private) - I looked this up to see if there was anything to change my recollection:

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20051024052402/http://techcrunch...


> Here [1] is an archive.org link from 2005, that lists Mike and Keith equally, on a post posted by the web designer who also did a lot of early work on Edgeio

Well it's been a while (long time no speak, too) and 12+ years are known to change memory and bits, but I remember those times. I remember the tension between Techcrunch and Edgeio because I lived it, and I'll say that the resurfacing of these this subject is not surprising.

Because I know I would be biased and I have fond memories of those times, I don't think it would be fair to put my version of events forward. I will say this: despite his flaws, I have to give Mike a ton of credit for sticking with Techcrunch - he put a ton of energy into making it what it eventually became, even if that meant less energy spent on other projects.


Yes, a very long time!

I absolutely agree it's clear that Mike deserves a lot of credit for sticking to it, whatever one thinks about what else went down and who is right or not about specific details.


This is exact same pattern that gets repeated everywhere: Winklevoss hires Zuckerberg to do some sort of campus meetup site. While working on this, Zuckerberg crystalizes related idea of profiles and messaging among students - but only shared among friends. Winklevoss does not participate in vision, engineering or anything else but claim the credit for Facebook anyway. I can understand that in early days it would be hard for Arrington to blantly expose Keith as he can do now. Keith had already threatened about litigation and Arrington had no money or time while managing fast growing company all by himself.


That's a pretty pro-Zuck view you have there. I think the courts are in a better position to decide and they found for the Winklevoss twins. Yes, they didn't get a lot of money but they got what they asked for.


Source? According to everything I've read, the money they got was from a settlement, not a court ruling in their favor. When they sued for more after the settlement, they got slapped down by the courts. e.g.,

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-facebooks-mark-zuckerberg-w...


When I was brought in to work on Edgeio, Mike (who I knew from before) introduced Keith as his partner in Archimedes Labs, not as his employer. And he discussed the work they were doing to launch more companies under that umbrella. He firmly gave the impression on multiple occasions over the following year that Techcrunch grew out of the research he did as part of that partnership, and never once suggested it was somehow a separate, personal project.

What he told me and what went on behind closed doors may very well be very different and I'd rather not jump to conclusions about it, but at least to me it seems like a very different situation in that he himself presented it differently at the time.


Do you have any evidence to substantiate this? Because currently it looks like two sides calling each other liars and outsiders taking sides based on who they like.


It's a quite interesting turnaround, because I remember at the time Techcrunch started getting traction, it was Mike that caught all the shit - he was vilified to a completely unjustified degree.


There's also a profile of Arrington in Wired from 2007 [0]. It also gives the impression that Techcrunch grew out of his personal research for new business models whilst he was working with "Arrington's longtime associate and mentor, Keith Teare."

Just in case anyone thinks this was perhaps written without Arrington's knowledge, his blog post would suggest otherwise. [1]

[0] https://www.wired.com/2007/06/ff-arrington/

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20070501222122/http://www.crunch...

EDIT: Removed ambiguity regarding whose research.


The phrases like "grew out of ..." is interesting. The thing is that you can use this phrase to steal someone's work as long as both of you were working on something that is even remotely related. I have to add this phrase in my Credit Stealer's Handbook I'm writing :).


Well, if TechCrunch called him co-founder in articles he contributed or was mentioned in[1-5], that may make things a little less clear.

I wonder why they don't seem to show up in the search now?

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20120711063818/http://techcrunch...

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20120718150953/http://techcrunch...

[3] https://web.archive.org/web/20120719183405/http://techcrunch...

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20120718005250/http://techcrunch...

[5] https://web.archive.org/web/20120721055442/https://techcrunc...


i think you mean the handbook i’m writing


That picture brings back memories. That room used to be the Edgeio office.


>As a final note, I want to add that if anyone was a “cofounder” of TechCrunch it was Heather Harde. She joined in 2006 but she was in the trenches with the team until the very end, working 20 hour days, sacrificing her personal life and giving everything she had to make the company what it was. Heather never sells herself like Keith does, but she should. Unlike Keith, she helped build that company, and gave way more value than she ever took.

As someone who's also been an early employee, I totally see why Heather does NOT claim to be a co-founder. When you work your ass off alongside the founders, you learn two things:

1. Building a company is incredibly hard.

2. Nobody takes it harder than the founders.

Yes, I have worked hard. In the last six years, I always worked parts of my weekend if not my vacations (which were few and far in between early on). I pulled off all nighters as well as a last minute trip straight from work to close a customer. I fell asleep on my laptop answering support questions. There were many nights of dry tears and waking up in cold sweat from nightmares that were all too real.

But what I went through is a fraction of what the real founders went through. And I saw their ups and downs up close.

Startups are hard. Incredibly hard, especially for those who has to lead the ship from Day One. Early, dedicated employees see this first hand, thinking to themselves, "Man, I thought I had a good/bad day, but they are probably having it better/worse". That's why we never claim to be the "founders".


I don't disagree with you, but I call BS on the OP:

1. 20-hour days are not actually worked, not even by slave labor.

2. Sacrificing your personal life for your employer is pathological, not heroic.


> Sacrificing your personal life for your employer is pathological, not heroic

This isn't an article about heroism. Keith Teare claims he co-founded TechCrunch. Arrington says "no" and then details why.

One part of the "why" is about value-adding output. Arrington "could never get [Teare] to write anything, or help pay any bills." Co-founders add value; Keith didn't do that.

The second part of the "why" is about input. Output requires input. But it's fair to highlight both, in part to block claims of unappreciated work. In highlighting Heather's "20 hour days" and "sacrificing [of] her personal life," Arrington draws into contrast the difference between someone he considers a co-founder and someone he doesn't.

> 20-hour days are not actually worked

Founded a company. Worked twenty-hour days. Deceptively easy to do if you're chasing a short-term deliverable across multiple time zones. (Short-term because this tactic is obviously unsustainable.)


The first 80 hours of a work week seem the hardest... the next 60 fly by in a daze of mania. It's hard to remember how to sleep and not think about work all the time, but your productivity is constantly falling. It works best for projects you can literally do in your sleep and anything requiring decision making, detail, or creativity should be done in the first day. If mistakes aren't very obvious when assembling the final blocks at the end, you'll miss them. Camaraderie is important too!


> Short-term because this tactic is obviously unsustainable.

I've pulled my share of all-nighters too, but (from the comment) the implication was it was a regular thing.

Far in the weeds here, I guess if I had RTFA maybe I wouldn't have bothered to comment. :-)


> 20-hour days are not actually worked, not even by slave labor.

Then you've never been there. Yes, they are. Have done it many times.


I've been a lot of places, and I have some experience with sleep deprivation. One ought not assume too much.

If you're regularly working 20-hour days, as opposed to the occasional all-nighter, then you're not doing anyone any favors -- not your company, not your friends/spouses/children, not yourself.

But anyway I was alluding to the tendency to boast about how little one sleeps...


I wish companies understood this. Part of my boring non-startup job consists of occasional weeklong sprees of 20+ hours/day, staying on the jobsite the entire week, with no additional compensation.

I'm definitely dead inside by the weekend, and noticeably affected after the first day. The logistics of what I do probably really does make it somewhat of a necessity, but I wish there was at least provisions for comp time afterwards or at least some kind of bonus pay.


I've worked 36 hours straight in the days before I knew better. And I got off lightly compared to my friends the game industry.


So have I, but not as a regular thing. Working "20-hour days" implies it's regular, and that means -- assuming no commute -- you're sleeping max 3 hours a night, which is pretty messed up.

o/t but I'm surprised this random comment touched a nerve here...


I think you just read it differently than the rest of us. I read Arrington as saying she worked the occasional 20-hr day regularly. In other words, during particularly bad stretches, which were fairly frequent, but not every day.

I agree that almost nobody could actually sustain working 20-hr days every single day.


I agree on both. Honestly, much of my long hours were due to my inexperience rather than supernatural productivity. If I were to do the same work with what I know now, I'd do it very differently with far fewer hours (probably).

That said, the point OP was making is that in a startup origin story, there's a significant perception gap between those who actually moved the needle and those who claim to have done so. Those who actually drove the bus and those who rode it. Time and again, I've seen the latter people take advantage of the relative reticence of the former.

It's probably more like, "relative to this guy who tried to kill my company early on and later claimed undue credit for its founding, this dedicated early employee surely seemed like she worked 20+ hour days and sacrificed everything for me."


> ... much of my long hours were due to my inexperience rather than supernatural productivity.

It takes a fair bit of experience with long days to know that the feeling of doing work and doing 'stuff' pales in comparison with the productivity of doing that work well while rested and focused...

Overtime creates 'undertime', cleaning up tired mistakes takes longer than doing them, and when it comes to coding nothing is worse than wasting 15+ hours implementing something you didn't think clearly enough about to start with, and realizing it was all wasted/could have been done in 1.

> this dedicated early employee surely seemed like she worked 20+ hour days

I feel the discussion of this line is perhaps conflating "worked 20 hour days [on the rare occasion something crazy was happening]", vs "worked 20 hour days [from 0400 hours to midnight every day]". Just because someone worked some 20 hour days does not mean they worked 20 hours every day :)


Yeah, perception is a big part of it.

When I was in startup-land, if we had a big deliverable we'd work until we couldn't work, which usually was about noon to 8am. Then everyone would go home and sleep it off, and the next day we'd try to not do that again... sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Now that I have a "normal" job, I still occasionally do a big coding sprint of 20 hours or more, but I don't do it day after day.

In startup land, when the CEO came in at 7am and saw us frenetically coding away in the Nerd Loft, I sure hope he told everyone we all worked 20-hour days. :-)


Sorry but no.

(a) If you did even 75% of what you just described you did more than many founders do.

(b) just because one is a founder one doesn't have magically more energy than other humans.

(c) just because one is a founder doesn't magically mean one earns a bigger share of the success. An early employee shares most of the cost (time spent, fears, real danger of having no money next month, possible conflicts with the law) but doesn't get that much of a share when getting rich. Idolizing this economically unreasonable situation doesn't make it better.

(d) I'd say the best enterpreneurs enjoy the thrill. So they actually go through a lot less negative stress than their employees.


Your quote says she joined in 2006 but link says 2007.

Did he edit that recently?


It seems the one fact that nobody is disputing is that the guy in question owned 10% of Techcrunch. Generally people who own 10% of a company had significant involvement in it. Not always, there are always edge cases, but that is a good general rule.

Maybe this is one of those edge cases. But claiming somebody who owns 10% of the company had literally nothing to do with the company is an extraordinary claim that I'd say requires extraordinary evidence. This blog post to me doesn't seem like extraordinary evidence.

But really the conclusion of this saga is pretty irrelevant. If somebody is investing in any type of business because an advisor to that business may or may not have co-founded a tech blog 12 years ago... well they have bigger problems.


Let's say he really deserves the 10%. That doesn't make him a "cofounder". That only makes him a shareholder. If owning some shares in a company made you a cofounder, by that logic any angel investor or VC is a cofounder of ever single company they funded.

And even if the law says you're technically a "cofounder", it's pathetic to call yourself that for a decade and use that false reputation for your personal gains if you didn't really do anything for the company.


FWIW I never said anything about the guy deserving the title of co-founder or not. Arrington is claiming the guy had literally nothing to do with Techcrunch, which is directly at odds with the one piece of information we know: the guy owned 10% of Techcrunch.

As for the co-founder title, my point is if you are investing in some business because an advisor is either a real co-founder or a fake co-founder of Techcrunch, you are making a stupid investment. And that goes for this guy or Arrington himself.

And yes, it is pathetic if somebody is claiming a bunch of credit for something they didn't do. But it is also pathetic to give 10% of your business to somebody who did nothing (assuming the blog post is accurate). As a neutral observer I'm inclined to believe Arrington, but at the same time I don't think he made a very strong case and presented basically no impartial evidence. Frankly I think this blog post makes them both look bad.


> And yes, it is pathetic if somebody is claiming a bunch of credit for something they didn't do. But it is also pathetic to give 10% of your business to somebody who did nothing (assuming the blog post is accurate)

This happens very frequently and that's why there are systems like vesting.

So you can't say it's "pathetic" to give away 10% to someone who didn't do any work. It's more of a system failure, or you suffering due to lack of experience or manipulation.

To give a specific example, there are tons of near-scam-artists who go around telling naive founders just out of college that they will introduce them to some investor, and in exchange they will get like 10% of the equity. Trust me this happens very frequently and not because the founders who fall for it are idiots, but because they're just inexperienced at that point in life. In this case, it should suck to be in that founder's shoes, but it's really harsh to call her/him pathetic because you have no idea what happened behind the scenes. But what clearly is pathetic is the older guy who know exactly what he's doing who is using his experience to scam the younger founder into believing that it's OK to give 10% of the company he hasn't even incorporated yet, all just for a single intro.

I'm not saying this is what happened in this case, but I'm just pointing out a founder giving away 10% (or even more) happens all the time, especially if you're not surrounded by the right people. This doesn't make them idiots, it's just that they were in an unfortunate situation. But someone who knows exactly what he's doing and is claiming to be what he isn't IS pathetic.


I feel pity for the older and more experienced founder who (allegedly) took advantage of the younger and naive one. But I also feel pity for the younger founder who was exploited and didn't know any better.

Maybe it is more pitiful than pathetic for the older and wiser businessman to (allegedly) take advantage of a younger and more naive person. But it is most certainly pathetic for somebody to give up 10% of their company for nothing, whether it is by being tricked or by being bullied or whatever.

That isn't a judgement on how common or uncommon this situation is, nor how intelligent either party is, nor on their value as a person. And perhaps we interpret the meaning of the word differently, but to me it means simply evoking pity.

The irony that this post itself might be interpreted as pathetic is not lost on me, but I think it is far more pedantic than pathetic so at least I have that going for me.


Agree the blog post paints neither of them in a good light, but would have thought a 10% cut could just be compensation for developing a new IP whilst "employed" by someone else?

Depending on the agreements in place at Edgeio, sounds like it could just be an IP deal rather an an acknowledgement of increased involvement?


Regardless of what the legal structure was, it's pretty pathetic to keep calling yourself a "cofounder" when everyone knows you didn't do jack shit for the company.

Kind of amusing because that's what that guy seems to be doing on a Twitter thread https://twitter.com/kteare/status/965488545187147776


He's calling himself a "co-founding shareholder" though, which appears to be undisputed. (Not that weasel-wording is much better than outright lying.)


That's because he's replying directly to Arrington. Would be hilarious if he kept insisting he's a "cofounder" on the same thread.

But just do a google search and you'll see that the guy has been really capitalizing on the "TechCrunch Cofounder" brand for almost a decade now.


A little off topic but somehow related: Can a jack of all trades do jack shit? Just curious.


It does muddy the waters somewhat and allow for a claim that he is "credited as being part of" that he was listed as an editor on the about page. [0]

In fairness to the author, he does point this out.

If this individual really did do as is claimed and really did nothing other than try to stop TechCrunch's existence, it may seem to some a strange thing to continue to associate with such an individual.

To have provided a link to the website of archimedes ventures [1] on the about page [0] where the author is listed alongside this individual as one of two "general partners" seems like a slightly surprising omission when covering the "real history."

It seems that had archimedes ventures been more successful than TechCrunch has been, the author could have been able to have claimed to be a greater part of that than this article would suggest.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20051024041505/http://www.techcr...

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20051026074846/http://www.archim...


Meh. Put yourself in Arrington's 2005 shoes. When you're starting, nobody cares about you. He agreed to put someone on his crappy un-famous little blog to keep him happy... At the time, getting anyone to care was the hard part, not worrying about if a decade from now they'd use your reputation to scam people.

I think Arrington did a great job of showing both sides of the story. Keith clearly was vaguely involved, and Arrington admitted he didn't care until it started being used to scam people. I think that's a fair line to put your foot down and write a blog post.


I don't know anything about what might have actually happened or who said what back when, but FWIW when I first met Keith a few years ago (I only see him socially, not professionally) we talked about what each of us had done in the past and about TC all he said was words to the effect of "..and I was involved a bit when Techcrunch got going. Then I ...". The only reason this even stuck in my mind at all is my GF had earlier described him as having founded TC, so I noted what he said to correct my my understanding.

Maybe other times he played his involvement up more, and maybe other times Arrington played it up more (as have been noted in these comments) but literally the only time Keith ever mentioned TC in my presence is completely consistent with what Arrington says in this blog entry "is what really happened".


Doing a quick search on the About TechCrunch page and TechCrunch wikipedia page for "Keith Teare" will yield no results.

Another reason to do your due diligence when investing in ICOs.


And yet, a search of [site:techcrunch.com "by keith teare"] turns up lots of guest-writing, where the "editor's note" describes him as a "co-founder" of TechCrunch, as well as other news stories by other TC staffers regularly describing Teare with the same boilerplate.

Teare may be intending to over-emphasize his role; Arrington may be resentful that Teare is touting his involvement this way. But for a long time, the TechCrunch site itself was happy to describe Teare as a "co-founder".

So whatever the cause of the Arrington-Teare spat, it's not outlandish for Teare to be making the same claim in 2018 as appeared repeatedly at TechCrunch itself, since at least 2011 (<https://techcrunch.com/2011/12/12/archimedes-labs-launches-a...).


This gets played out in all companies every day: You do something interesting in your spare time, your manager jumps on it out of nowhere to take credit and soon enough he is the visionary leader while you get transformed in to dude doing engineering implementation of his ideas.

Lot of big projects where you will see one of the executives or managers attached, the real work - including vision - is many times done by that engineer working away in his/her weekends. I know of at least two Ted talks (one from Google exec) where the real person having the idea and doing the work never ever gets even mentioned.

Very recently this is exactly what happened my current job. I hate the guy who is nakedly and blatantly taking all the credit of my work. There is nothing I can do because he is favorite in the upper management chain. I don't even get to present my own work because he has convinced the upper management that I'm just an engineer and not good at executive-level presentations. Unlike Arrington, there is nothing I can do except leave the job but when I try that I get grilled through stupid CS questions. Meanwhile my manager was ironically featured in TechCrunch for all the work I did.

The credit stealing by managers in tech world is huge huge huge problem.


You sound come across as competent. If you don't feel justly compensated for this loss of credit, you need to walk.


That is the best option but it might not be always possible for a variety of reasons. Visa issues, not being good in interviewing/networking (I know some very good devs who suck at interviewing), family commitments etc. These might sound like excuses, but they are real excuses.

We as a industry should improve our processes and not let some MBA guys screw engineers over. It is probably happening elsewhere too, especially the creative jobs (advertising etc).


I hear this advice all the time from my friends. If I was working on just another web development project, yes, I could walk away to yet another web development project. But if I was working on sending space crafts to Mars, then what other choices do I have in the world? Working on improving search results by 0.0001% at Google? Or identifying state actors at Facebook? Ewww....


That's not a very convincing argument. There are tons of interesting space companies, like these 10: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.fastcompany.com/3026685/the...

They don't even mention all the ones I know about, like Planet Labs, or Blue Origin, or places like JPL.


You only live once, personally I would pick the one that offers the most money. That way, if you find it boring you can always save up enough to live off of a year or two and then do your own thing.

What is your alternative here? Keep getting exploited and keep being frustrated? You need to consider yourself in, say, 20 years. Consider you decided to stay, how do you feel in 20 years? Consider you decided to try something else, how do you feel in 20 years now?


> You do something interesting in your space time, your manager jumps on it out of nowhere to take credit

This is unfortunate, but not what happened here. Better analogy: you do something interesting; your roommate takes credit to hock junk securities.


This is exactly what happened here. Keith Teare had 75% equity in Edgeio. So he was majority shareholder - similar power that managers have.

He basically said he wanted to start N number of startups under the umbrella of Archimedes Labs. This meant that when Arrington accepted to become "co-founder" as minority shareholder, he implicitly accepted that whatever he does can be accounted as building new startup under Archimedes Labs. Keith then tries to get credit of all work done by him even though he had no contribution whatsoever. The difference is that Arrington can threaten legal action unlike usual employees. However things could have easily gone other way around. Arrington might have yielded in face of litigation and giving Keith 50% share, making him bonafide co-founder.

One of the tactics people like Keith exploit is this: if you ever talked to him about what you are doing, his responses would be counted as "contribution" - even if they are complete nuance. For example, if Keith would have said "I don't think this would be successful, but do it anyway" then it gets counted as participating in vision exercise.


Another tactic that people like Keith employ is to walk the fine line, i.e., claiming credits while not claiming it. Here's what his LinkedIn profile says about TC:

I co-founded TechCrunch through my friendship and business partnership with Michael Arrington. We started edgeio and TechCrunch simultaneously whilst cooperating through Archimedes Ventures LLC. I can't claim a lot of credit for TechCrunch ... I'm the one who advised him not to do it :-). I hope I helped Mike get to the point where he wanted to do it, and was able to help him be successful.


Do you have first hand knowledge of what went down? Because if so I would suggest it is unfair to make these characterizations without making your biases known (as I did elsewhere). Especially as you've made at least one clear error (the "umbrella" was Archimedes Labs) which would be odd if you have sufficient knowledge to be able to say "this is exactly what happened here".


I'm not saying your situation is at all fair but ... the word "hate" makes you a slave. You're obviously thinking about this situation as you're reading this thread and I hope you're not obsessing on it at other times. The down-side to a situation like this is that your psychopath manager isn't spending any time thinking about you (outside using you to create value for himself). If you're obsessing over him, he's won. As someone else said, get yourself out of there. And once you have, forgive and forget (for your own piece of mind).

Note that I don't mean that you should forget enough to end up in this situation again ... or go back to work for him for some reason. Just enough to let you go on with your life without obsessing over the past.


Many people would tell you to quit. Don't quit. Go on a sabbatical, or an unpaid vacation. First, it'll help you get in a better place, mentally, and second, it will show exactly who is contributing to this idea/work. Either you will be educated, or they will.


By being exploited and not doing anything about it you are confirming the manager's impression that exploiting you can be done without any consequences.


Arrington deleted a whole bunch of tweets today seemingly about his worry that SEC is going after investors investing in... shady ICOs. anyone know what they said?


I used to eulogize my role in the early internet because being one of ten thousand felt good. Now I keep quiet about it because I doubt I did much of value and none of it persists. The real work was done by people we all know and me and my fellow nine thousand mainly were early adopters with minor bug reports to our name. Work is work.

It feels like some people prefer to mythologize their roots but I think deprecation is safer.


Two sides to every story. One thing that sticks out here is why Arrington of all people would easily cave and give 10% to someone who did "nothing."


TechCrunch was a tech blog which didn't require much "operation". The site was just a wordpress blog and the only work involved was probably blogging and some wordpress maintenance.

This Keith guy never blogged, and this guy is no programmer.

The best he can claim to be is an "investor", but you really have to be shameless to call yourself a "cofounder" when you really did nothing, and use that reputation everywhere you go, especially in this case to promote scam ICOs.

Whether he deserves the 10% or not doesn't really matter. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. But you're not a "cofounder" if you did no work.


TC is not just WordPress blog. There is a lot of leg work that happens to contact VCs, journalists, founders, conduct interviews, verify details etc. I bet 80% of the work that happens at TC is not-engineering. The fact that Arrington carried this entirely on his shoulder while Keith just stayed on sidelines is enough for him not getting credited for TC. However Keith claims on his LinkedIn profile that he advised Arlington and helped him to be successful even initially he did not believed in TC.


When techcrunch started it was just a WordPress blog. It quickly grew to much more than that, sure.

> However Keith claims on his LinkedIn profile that he advised Arlington and helped him to be successful even initially he did not believed in TC.

I've personally been present when Keith gave Mike advice about Techcrunch on more than one occasion (and I was only over about 1 week every 6 or so, so it'd be odd if I caught their only discussions), so while whether or not he did enough to justify calling himself co-founder is something I don't want to wade into as I simply don't know (and is trying to keep my personal opinions out of this when I don't have first hand knowledge), I for one was an eye witness to Keith advising Mike more than once (whether or not Mike took on that advice, or whether or not it was good advice, I don't want to try to assess).


Most ethical people would never call themselves a "founder" if all they did was give advice and never did any real work. That's why we have a term called "advisor".

We're not even in legal territory here. It's about ethics. Can you see yourself calling yourself a "Techcrunch Co-founder" if you were in his shoes? If I were him, no matter how much advice I gave him I would NEVER call myself a founder if I didn't do any work AND the entire world knows that I never wrote a single post for a business whose only purpose was to blog.


Do you have firsthand knowledge of this? Because I met and worked directly with both people involved regularly during this period, and I still dont know the full details of what went down. So the way I see it, either you were directly involved but aren't disclosing your connection and hence makes it impossible to judge your biases, or you were not and you're judging the situation based on a very incomplete picture.


Advisor is not a founder. The best he could call himself is a "TechCrunch advisor" or "TechCrunch early investor".

There's a huge difference, especially when he's using that fake reputation to deceive naive people to invest in some scam ICOs.


Other side seems to be pretty simple: Arrington accepted to be co-founder of Archimedes Labs with 25% ownership. The Archimedes Labs was founded by Keith with him retaining 75% ownership and it was merely a shell company for many future startups. The problem in this arrangement was that whatever Arrington or Keith did would be counted as new or existing startup work under Archimedes Labs umbrella and therefore other co-founder also gets to become co-founder on each others work - even if they had zero contribution. So it was possible for Keith to legally challenge Arrington and grab 75% share in TC even with zero contribution. As litigation is expensive for startups, Arrington decided to settle by giving him 10% share - which technically also established him as "co-founder".


When starting a new company (esp without any compelling background), no one cares about their project. So founders often reach out/involve potential employees/advisors/supporters on the side line, and sometimes those name appears on incorporation document/contracts/rent agreement etc because founders were trying to get things off the ground. And they don’t want to screw up the newly built relationship to get going.

Situation like these do not make someone a real co-founder.


> Ultimately Keith knew I could just walk away from it all and TechCrunch would lose all its value, so he relented and I agreed to pay Keith 10% of any value I received in the company eventually to avoid litigation.

I know and have done business with Mike.

That said the above sounds like Mike may have been using resources [1] of Edgeio and so essentially to avoid litigation Mike had to give Keith a cut of the action. So as a stretch Keith could claim that w/o those resources (pay, reimbursement, guidance and so on) Mike would never have been able to start Techcrunch. That doesn't make Keith a founder for sure. But then again (taking Keith's side of this not that I have any reason to do so at all) it doesn't seem entirely unjust that he got 10% of Techcrunch. He could probably rework the 'techcrunch' connection creatively to reflect this.

Also nobody gives up 10% of a company in this circumstance (remember Arrington went to law school) unless they feel the other party has a leg to stand on and they stand to loose more. Generally of course.

[1] "He asked me to work with him on Edgeio and possibly other companies he was to start. I agreed and began working with him.".."At the time I was working with Keith Teare on another project called Edgeio, a company that he founded"


How does this actually matter? Various players either have stock and money from tc or they don’t.

I’ve seen maybe a half dozen first hand examples of companies here in Colorado bootstrapping, getting some real funding, going through a big pivot and then having their history effectively rewritten. CEO and maybe a CTO are named “founders” and neither was involved in any capacity for the first 12-18 months. After a pivot and some branding, about the only original equipment is the name of the corporation and some legal paperwork, perhaps a couple employees. Engineers do this too, surely we’ve all witnessed a little “title inflation” on LinkedIn, I think it’s almost a disease with dissolved startups, I just assume someone gave themselves a bump when reading a resume with details from a completely nonexistent startup.

“Founder” is funnier though, it’s one thing if you got payed, but it’s not like you’re claiming engineering experience. Seemed like a few years back at defcon and black hat, folks were getting twisted about “credit,” like Apple and MS, etc.. were going to give “Solar Ninja” credit for finding a security flaw they fixed in a service pack.


The article explains exactly how it matters. Arrington didn’t care that much until people started asking him about his connections to various crypto ICOs.


But he has no connection to them. He can simply say that, he can throw the ico under the bus and recommend against doing business with them. He can do whatever. If the investors talk to the wrong founder, that’s not exactly helping the fundraising process, is it?

Ethics matter, truth is real, I’m not justifying any sort of dishonesty but the difference between a real Co-founder that signed some articles of incorporation or something and an early employee that you gave 10% of the company to is kind of academic. If you have to make spurious claims to get your ico off the ground some investors will sniff it out, others won’t, that’s business. People “round up” on their resumes, it’s a known open secret, right?


Another scumbag advisor. Seeing that name is now a confimation the ICO is a scam.


Michael Arrington is named as an advisor to Nexo [1]. Is this connection legitimate?

[1]: https://nexo.io/




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