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Dave McClure responds to Arrington's post (500hats.typepad.com)
251 points by marklittlewood on Sept 22, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 167 comments

Having skimmed through that incoherent babbling rant, I know as a founder I will never want to do business with that guy.

He tries to come off as some sort of "angel from the hood". I wouldn't be surprised to hear him say "yo boyyyyy, I be funding companiez."

His money's as green as the next guy's though.

Then I'm sure founders wouldn't have a problem taking the next guys money instead.

Dave has been watching too much of The Wire

If Birdman got into angel investing, I would take his money.

Honestly the biggest problem with Silicon Valley is that 90% of the startups aren't trying to build real businesses, they're just trying to build something that will impress Mike Arrington to compensate for the fact that they had no friends in high school or whatever. At least Dave actually understands the mechanics of leadgen, SEO, margins, and the rest of what makes a business work unlike the rest of the hacks in the valley.

Can't downvote this enough.

Really? All 90% of people who quit their job to found a startup want to do is impress Arrington? They want the same thing that any founder wants-- a combination of happy users, business success, and an exit (though there's more emphasis on the exit for a lot of Valley folks).

Save your venom for people who don't have the guts to start a company. Or better yet, save your venom entirely. The internet doesn't need any more.

Save your venom entirely. The internet doesn't need any more

That's one of the best things I've read in a long time.

"They want the same thing that any founder wants-- a combination of happy users, business success, and an exit."

I'm sure the founders think that's what they want, but their actions say otherwise. Anyway I didn't mean it to be venomous, I was just trying to defend Dave.

Would you provide us five specific examples of how their actions say otherwise? Since 90% of startups exhibit this kind of behavior, it should be easy to come up with five.

If I were to start calling out individual companies I'd only do it on my blog under my real name, not as a pseudonymous blog comment. As it stands though I wouldn't feel comfortable blogging this only because it's not my idea, I stole it from someone else.

So you're just impersonating Alex Krupp?

It was difficult for me to read this too; I have a really hard time reading multi-colored text with italics and underlines and font size differences. It kind of reminds me of highschool myspace accounts where GiRlS wOuLd tYpE lYkE ThIs.

I find it hard to believe that a grown adult can write like that. The whole thing was formatted and written like a MySpace bulletin from a high school kid circa 2004. Obviously the man is good at what he does but there is something to be said for tactfully dealing with problems like this.

I've reloaded this a few times, still not entirely sure it wasn't a parody of some sort. It even ends with angsty song lyrics, quoted in full. Can that really be serious? Maybe this is some kind of hybrid performance art, half a rebuttal of Arrington and simultaneously a parody of teenage LiveJournals?

To be fair I did this in middle school even though I was not a girl.

-- OxSpaZxO

The only thing missing from that post was the blinking text and the spinning email image from circa 1999.

and a marquee.

What no hits counter?

It was under construction.

Dave McClure should've hosted his website on angelfire.com

Personally, I found his babbling rant highly coherent. That's just his style. He's a really smart guy and a good investor.

Coherent, yes. And so busy, there's no time for the shift key.

I think this came in vogue among the tech affluent during the era of Crackberry supremacy -- easier to just thumb in all lowercase, and a significant portion of communication done from that device made staccato lowercase brevity socially acceptable.

What about the constant changes in font style and color? Pretty sure that took more effort than hitting the shift key would have.

Didn't mean this particular piece.

I was referring to the style of all lowercase, and to when I started noticing business people stop using initial caps. I used to catch myself doing it too after using a Sidekick and Moto Q for email on the go; still happens sometimes.

who doesn't want to be like ee cummings

It looks like an import from MS Word to me.

Not enough redundant font tags...

BlackBerries automatically capitalize the first letter after a period, so that theory doesn't really hold.

But you type in all lowercase (correct?), so typing:

the quick brown fox...

would turn into

The quick brown fox...

which would not translate to the PC. It would just stay lowercase.

Are you really comparing typing on a PC keyboard to typing on a BlackBerry? My thumbs can only "type" so fast, but sitting at a keyboard I'm somewhere around 100 wpm. It feels like two completely different activities. At a keyboard, capitalization happens automatically without me even thinking about it.

It's not a matter of bad habit, it's a conscious choice. When I'm IM'ing with friends, I typically type all lowercase (but with good spelling and punctuation) because it's what they do and it seems less formal. When I'm typing an email or an HN comment, the capitalization just happens.

They also capitalize if you hold the key down briefly.

... I miss my blackberry.

This post is a prime example of how awful a lot of tech writing is on the Web in general. I can think of book reports written by kids in public schools that feature better narrative, grammar, and spelling. Reading this made me want to stab myself.

The web is horizontal; one of the biggest problem with it is the lack of established hierarchy.

that is its biggest advantage.

better narrative, grammar, and spelling

Doh, in school you get brownie points for spelling right.

In business as an investor, you don't.

Arguably correct spelling and grammar and punctuation matters more in business where it actually affects credibility, rather than a silly letter grade between you and your teacher.

Depends on the context. For a VC who has built a style around misspelling and weirdly styled blog posts, those rules don't apply. We don't do spell check or grammar check on rap lyrics because those rules don't apply.

Food for thought: When wading through 100s of resumes, I do use frequent spelling/grammar errors to help me cull...

Investors don't usually have to pass around their resumes like a typical job applicant.

Then you obviously haven't heard of Dave before this and are judging his business acumen by his writing style. Dave is an extremely smart (enough for inDinero, Twilio, and KISSmetrics to have him as an angel investor) and well-connected guy with an eccentric writing style.

His punctuation and capitalization could be called eccentric. His writing style is a cliché, a bad one, that reinforces Arrington's point and undermines his own. For a blog post that purports to say, "Nothing is wrong here, just fair play and good capitalism," he shouldn't have adopted a style that, in fiction at least, always means, "This is a morally blinkered guy who needs to be reined in by the law, because he will never admit to seeing anything wrong with anything that gets him ahead."

I admit I don't know anything about him and very little about the issue at hand; I'm just talking about style. I find it fascinating that he would model his blog persona after (in approximately equal parts) Gordon Gekko, Colonel Jessup, and Jay of Jay and Silent Bob. I mean, really, why would you adopt a personal style that is universally understood as shorthand for "arrogant and morally compromised asshole?" And if you did, why would you deny wrongdoing in a tone that signals to readers that you're incapable of caring or acknowledging if what you're doing is wrong? I'm not presuming guilt; you don't have to be evil to find classic movie villains like Gordon Gekko charismatic or even inspiring. It's just odd that he is apparently cultivating Arrington's story instead of defusing it. Could he be doing it on purpose? Does he relish the assumption that he's an evil mastermind? Or could there be a more boring financial motivation for it?

>And if you did, why would you deny wrongdoing in a tone that signals to readers that you're incapable of caring or acknowledging if what you're doing is wrong?

Because if he were to go ahead and write a mild-mannered piece about the collusion at that meeting or the lack thereof, those who know Dave and his variegated rants on his blog would see that as something out of the ordinary. He has pretty strong opinions, and they're converted from intensity to hex values.

That's kind of his style. He knows that people will go to his blog and think "wow, this guy's unprofessional," but that, too, is part of it.

A counterpoint from a comment on the blog post:

I'm not any more convinced it was innocent just because you say motherfucker as much as I do.

Don't be quick to judge. Lay back and make reasonable decision based on data not on writing. Look at the number of companies the investor has made successful.

Sometimes people go into rants like this as a defense mechanism, so they are free to make correct choice, and not choice based on keeping everyone happy.

I think it's one of the biggest hindrances to being successful is trying to make everyone happy. I don't agree with the methodology, but I encourage people to dig deeper.

Look at the number of companies the investor has made successful.

How is this relevant to whether the investor was colluding?

It's not. Jwr accused Dave McClure of incoherence, not collusion.

I think the idea is that it's relevant to whether or not he's a good investor, notwithstanding his writing style.

"innovation & investing is not about price. it's about finding great entrepreneurs to build solid companies, and solve customer problems"

That's the reason why I WOULD DO BUSINESS with Dave.

Anyone who as followed Dave even remotely over the past half decade will understand and appreciate his style.

He says it as it is and that rare candour is something special in the venture capital business.

That's a shame, because Dave is one of the charter members of the PayPal Mafia and one of the top angels in Silicon Valley, has an extremely impressive CV and by all accounts a great guy.[1]

He was director of marketing for PayPal, and he know exactly what he's doing in writing like that. Frankly, I think his writing is hilarious.

Please, this is Hacker News, disagree with the substance of his thoughts, not his style of communication[2].


[1] http://500hats.typepad.com/500blogs/about-dave-mcclure.html

[2] http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

The style is a reflection of the substance. The style reflects the thought process and the concrete representation of thought as expressed in writing. The (mis)use of the English language by Dave is reprehensible and abhorrent and has no place in professional discourse.

If that page is any indication, it sounds like he was just lucky enough to be hanging around the building when the money truck came by. I wouldn't put him charge of marketing dog food.

I agree. The author comes across more as a midshipman in the US Navy talking with a fellow enlistee rather than as a professional. As an entrepreneur, I would not want to have as an investor someone who thinks in the terms that his writing reflects. Life is too short. Others have similar or better qualifications and are more pleasant to deal with. I would prefer someone who comes across as being more "bien eleve."

You must really appreciate form over substance then. The ideas expressed are right on and favorable to the entrepreneur - guys like Dave are forcing all investors to deal with entrepreneurs on more equal terms, if only by providing them more options.

this has to be the ugliest blog post ever, especially coming from a hardass like Dave. +1 nphase. Who writes like this? - I don't care who you are, how much money you have, what companies you've helped...his writing stands on its own, very poorly written.

Well, if am not wrong he was an early investor in mint.com. And he has some interesting insights about startup metrics (google AAARR metrics). The rant on the post is his signature style

It's his style. He is a pretty smart guy and writes a bit better in most of his other posts.

Since everyone seems to just be agreeing with the last person whose take on this they've read, think about it this way: If they were indeed colluding, do you think any of them would come out and say "mike's right, we are colluding"? No, they would come back with totally legit sounding blog posts to discredit him.

I still think it doesn't make sense for Mike to lie about what he heard, especially when it relates to such big players. Mr McClure's defensive, arrogant, immature rant indicates that a sore spot has been touched. I don't think we should take any of the angels' words at face value.

Mr McClure's defensive, arrogant, immature rant indicates that a sore spot has been touched.

No it doesn't. That's how McClure always comes off in writing. Arrogant and immature, but never defensive. Probably not just in writing ..

Don't take my word for it, just navigate to another page on his blog and you will see the same thing.

IMO, McClure is to Arrington what Ali G is to Darth Vader. One of them is nasty but fun, the other ..

Fair enough. Can't say I read his blog. However, he does come across as incredibly manic in writing, which makes it difficult for me to trust him. But I don't know the man at all. Bad blog first impressions.

This is just his writing style. He is actually quite normal and super-knowledgeable (especially about lean startup principles) when he presents in person though peppered with the occasional explicits and blunt talk.

Let's turn that around for a second and look at it as though it is true:

A bunch of 'angels' (for want of a better term, none of them were sprouting wings) get together in a bar but omit one of the regulars.

They discuss in great detail the way in which they are going to 'corner the market' and convince each other that nobody will invest in any start-up over a certain price point.

How long do you think that would fly in the real world. Before they'd been out of the door someone would have already decided to break the arrangement, it's the nature of the beast you're dealing with here, and besides, most if not all of the dealings between angels and their investment targets are confidential so you'd never know anyway.

I wasn't agreeing with Arringtons view on this when I read it, I just interpreted it as 'wow, you take being marginalized quite badly', and this post pretty much confirms that that may be all there is to it.

Hell hath no fury like a 'blogger' scorned it seems.

It's not as though people need Arringtons permission to meet, and it's not as though every meeting that he isn't in on is automatically grounds for suspecting a cartel being formed.

Earlier this summer when LeBron James decided to go to Miami to play with Dwyane Wade, there was a lot of discussion over the next week about the fact that many players have basically grown up together in the countless shoe company basketball camps and all-everything teams that top recruits go through these days. The lament was that you don't compete against your friends the same way you compete against rivals you have some distance from, and it was starting to affect the league, even to the point where players who you'd expect would want to carry their own teams instead decide to play together.

There were even accusations of collusion:


"Worked out among friends at a "summit" earlier this summer, the James free-agency move – aired live as ESPN's "The Decision" segment Thursday night – in one stroke shifted the NBA's power structure and could undermine attempts to achieve parity in a league dominated by a few select teams."

(I bet Mike Arrington wasn't invited to that meeting either.)

If your presumption regarding collusion were true (that it can't hold up in the real world), then there would never have been any cases of collusion in the real world, yet we have plenty of examples.

There is plenty of anti-competitive in the real world (phone companies are a nice example, but Intel and Microsoft have a nice track record too), but in this particular case due to the nature of the material involved it would be extremely hard to collude in the first place and almost impossible to prove that it actually happened if it did.

A bunch of guys having dinner and talking over business is not collusion, they call it 'synergy'.

Collusion is: "Start-ups X, Y and Z suddenly found that none of the angels present at such and such a dinner would accept deals over <some value> or under <some conditions>."

And even then you'd have a very hard time proving that it was because they colluded.

Also, how long would it take one of these guys to figure out that if he 'broke' the rule just once that nobody could ever accuse him/her of it and he'd have a surefire winner because that start-up would have found doors closed everywhere else.

It simply isn't going to happen, the VC world (especially angel investments) is too competitive (not in the last place due to YC) and too closely watched to get away with any of this.

"and almost impossible to prove that it actually happened if it did"

Wouldn't that be the best type of thing to collude on?

"get together in a bar but omit one of the regulars"

MA isn't an angel investor and isn't one of the regulars. My guess is that when they saw him they knew that he would report anything he sees/hears - hence their silence.

> If they were indeed colluding, do you think any of them would come out and say "mike's right, we are colluding"?

And if they weren't colluding, would they say "mike's right, we are colluding"? It's a non-observation to say "they would say that, wouldn't they?"

Also, the "sore spot" might be that they have all been accused of massive dishonesty (or actual illegal conduct) and they are, in fact, not guilty. It's still not an illuminating observation.

Hence "Yes, Mike, I Have Stopped Beating My Wife".

To be fair, Dave would reply with a similar defensive, arrogant, immature rant if you said 'hello' to him. That's just his style, and he seems to get off on it.

I respectfully disagree.

Mike made some serious insinuation of improper behaviour that was targeted at the super angels i.e Dave, Ron et al

Dave has every right to discredit it. Especially when Arrington wasn't a participant and Dave was.

In any meeting of people/businesses with similar interests, there will be talk of 'working together', 'sharing information', 'making deals', etc. Such is mostly just talk, showing each other goodwill and courtesy and generally playing around with ideas that sound good in theory, but won't work that way in practice. Usually nothing comes of it and if it does, it's a severely watered down version, well withing the law and adhering to ethical considerations. When it's not watered down, it usually starts with a few of them sealing the deal in secrecy, with others perhaps joining in later.

The story is too much like you hear in the movies and too little like stuff happens in reality.

In addition, how much further can this story really develop? If there was illegal activity going on, why would any of the parties involved admit to it? Whatever happened, this would have been a huge warning.

I doubt we'll see anything exciting develop, like some people may be expecting.

Agreed. If Mike's story has any real effect, it will happen behind closed doors, where even/especially Mike won't see it.

Let me summarize.

"Yes, the meeting described indeed happened. Yes, we talked about what Arrington claimed we talked about. No, Arrington was not welcome. No, it was not the big deal Arrington claimed it was."

If it was not the deal that Arrington claimed it was, then why were they so uncomfortable when Arrington sat down? Why did Sundeep delete his tweet? And why did people tell Arrington that they were uncomfortable with the direction the conversation took?

This leaves me more, not less, likely to believe what Arrington reported. The side evidence leaves me leaning towards the belief that Dave McClure's judgment is more likely lacking than that there is no fire behind the smoke. However I have no really concrete evidence behind that position.

It will be interesting to see this play out.

I agree. It seems likely that at least some of the people in the meeting might just be talking about things that would benefit them without fully realizing that the whole setup and the conversation they were having was actually collusion. Under that premise, I can believe that both Arrington and McClure are telling the truth, but only Arrington saw a spade for a spade.

...saw a spade for a spade

I haven't seen that one in a while :-)

Arrington has said that many who attended this event were friends of his. I'd think it wouldn't be too difficult to sense a strange vibe and that something unusual was going down. I've seen Arrington make some big claims (last.fm handing over records to the RIAA (unsure if that was resolved)), but these are pretty damaging accusations, and you've got to realize that more than just page views, there are a few other things riding on this recent piece -- like the friendships of those he's accused of colluding, general respect among the angel/vc community and beyond. That coupled with this post, with a tl;dr of HE's WrONg ANd I WanT TO BE AbraSIVE AnD NOT PROviDE REASONABle LEVel-heaDED ARGumEnTS, makes me side with Arrington for now, although Fred Wilson's post does make a lot of sense.

Frankly, that's more just McClure's style -- to be abrasive and have 9 different colors in his posts.

I can't wait until I have enough money to have a style!

Can't help but think of:

Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.

- Crash (Bull Durham)

Gladly, my style is poor written english.

last.fm vehemently denied giving data to the RIAA however just a few months later 3 of the founders all quit (Felix, Martin & RJ) which splashed fuel on the rumour fire as to what had really happened.

This. I am sick of it coming up on here and on reddit. A lot of people seem to have made their judgements and moved on, but when the report came out that last.fm actually did leak data, these same assholes ignored it (and it still comes up today!)

> Arrington has said that many who attended this event were friends of his.

How apt.

That's disingenuous --that's called reported speech. (in reported speech, tenses go back one).

I'm sorry, non-native speaker here, that's just what it meant to me. Shall we continue in Dutch ?

Would it surprise you to learn that even Arrington's "Friends" don't necessarily want him around all the time?

There seems to be a severe case of group think on HN today.

Why are so many people raining on Dave? The points he makes seem to make a lot of sense.

I'm pretty sure that an agenda that will attract the smartest angel investors for a meeting will stretch far beyond "collusion to bring valuations down".

The fact of the matter is that owning 1% of a company that exits for $100mm is far better than owning 10% of a bankrupt startup. These investors know this better than anyone and I'm pretty sure that increasing the size of the pie, attracting more startups, increasing the number of exit channels etc were the chief points of discussion and not "how do we make sure we own 10% instead of 5%".

Having said that, it's pretty much Dave's word against Mike's and I'll pitch my tent in the proven serial investor's camp any day.

Yeah seriously. So much of the criticism is about his style and attitude that it made me wonder if this was really HN?

Dave is a great guy in person. Yes, he's aggressive, super-cynical, outspoken,has a sense of humor and a good track record. These are all good reasons why he's one of the few investors (along with Mark Suster) that I would actually want to do business with.

>- startups & investors bitch & moan about price (aka valuation) all day long, but i don't really give a damn what other people think most of the time. buy or don't buy. negotiate or don't. This is America, This is Capitalism, and it's a Free Fucking Country.

I read Arrington's article with a grain of salt, but after that line McClure convinced me he's up to no good. That is exactly what a colluding price-fixer would say to defend his actions. The fact that he denies it is irrelevant.

Did anyone else get a headache just trying to read through that rant?

You know the only other place I've seen where someone uses 14 different type styles for emphasis is the Time Cube guy and other similar nutjobs.

You should see his PowerPoint presentations ;)

When people try too hard to sound cool, they actually come off sounding like dorks. Of course, McClure has FU money, so his likely response to me would be "_________." (short answer quiz).

I didn't know Zed Shaw and Gary Vaynerchuck had a child. It's always fun to see kids discovering the Internet.

usual McClure style

Boring McClure style

what a meaningful comment to upvote!

To expand, then, borism:

Usual McClure style can often bore me compared to the style of writing compared to Fred Wilson, Steve Blank, etc etc. Isn't it ironic that his ironic writing to be interesting and break the mold is the very thing that turns me off? Kudos to his thoughts, though. It's just that his style leaves much to be desired.

Is that a bit better?

Nope! It was quite a ride and nothing beats a good rant. You the reader chooses the tone in the end anyways. Sometimes you have to yell "I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!"

Request for fact check: If you agree that the definition of collusion is that "collusion takes place within an industry when rival companies cooperate for their mutual benefit." Wikipedia.

And you read McClure's post that admits to discussing pricing amongst these industry competitors: "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..."

then how can you not conclude that collusion (which is illegal) did not take place?

Where is this argument off-base?


Disregarding all the abusive and offensive language, his points are unnecessary. He could just as well have written "We are not colluding. Mike got it wrong. This is what we talked about: ..."

He's leading Arrington's claims ad absurdum and concludes that everything is horse shit and hater shit and a steaming pile of crap, yo, bitches.

Why is Dave McClure important again?

Just because he does a bad job of making his argument doesn't make it wrong.

I could not finish this article. Why does he write like that?

It's a "fuck you and your grammar" style of writing. It might come off as ghetto at times, but I think it's a deliberate decision to write that way, as a way to rebel-against or reject whatever that's considered standard.

I personally identify with his writing, in a sort of "game recognizes game" way.

What with all the things to read and learn out there, I think I'll stick to writers who are able to wield the English (or Italian) language to make their point, rather than those whose web pages look like something from 1998 recounting how their space-brother told them the secret of how to construct a perpetual motion machine that they cannot build because of the Icelandic government's mind control rays.

Edit: I'll add that I think Fred Wilson's reasoning is convincing, and written for the people of planet Earth to boot. Even the original article states that some of the people were just there to see what's up. If they're already spilling beans to Techcrunch, the likelihood of managing to get everyone on board with anything really damaging for any significant duration is small.

Some of the more creative literary figures have taken great liberties with language, as a whole, and convention specifically.

You might not like it, but I think the juxtaposition of hard-nodes business insight and MySpace typography is jarring, in a positive sense. He routinely craps all over the industry.

But what do I know. I am a 30 year old with a mohawk.

> Some of the more creative literary figures have taken great liberties with language, as a whole, and convention specifically.

Certainly. Is he aiming for "great literary figure" status, though? My guess is that in 50 years, people will still read the work of "great authors". A rant about a silicon valley "conspiracy"? My guess is no.

The entire thread has been about Dave and his writing.

How many other investors can you recognize by their prose and style? how many do you talk about afterward?

I think the point has been made.

> How many other investors can you recognize by their prose and style? how many do you talk about afterward?

Paul Graham comes to mind:-)

I don't mind non-standard grammar; the problem is that I found it difficult to understand.

Breaking rules _for the sake of breaking them_ is extremely childish.


"Rebellion is almost as stupid as obedience. In either case you let yourself be defined by what they tell you to do. The best plan, I think, is to step onto an orthogonal vector. Don't just do what they tell you, and don't just refuse to."

That quote struck a chord. Just the right one for me to be better at work.

Did a google for that quote to find out that it's pg in this article http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html

I always thought of swearing as some kind of instinctual or emotional entity, I doubt it was deliberate, but more likely he's been drinking the haterade.

I like what Tom Wolfe called it, the "fuck patois." Though he was at the time parodying lax boys, etc., at elite institutions.

Before I clicked I figured it was going to be yet another "Michael is a great guy but way off base here," and indeed that's pretty much all there is to see here. Coupled with a lot of fist-pumping.

why do people need to use so much fck sht and d*ck when defending an argument I'll never understand. It doesn't make it any more influential or cool, if that's what is intended.

speaking his mind, like he would speak to you in person, is influential and cool.

After a few minutes of someone spouting profanities, you mostly become inured to it and it ceases to have much of an effect. In some cases you wonder if it's simply a verbal crutch.

You get a much greater effect if you rarely use that sort of language: when you do, it's quite powerful.

I don't know - I tend to notice that the people who say "smart people don't swear" are offer people who aren't really that smart themselves - or know many smart people. I know a lot of smart people, and they all fucking swear. ;-)

I didn't say "don't swear". I do myself, and have nothing against it in the proper context. But if you overdo it, you come across looking like a bit of a horse's ass.

It's very much a mistake to say that given words should universally be saved for emphasis or used liberally. In most social contexts, there are a variety of words that can and should be used liberally. In the contexts where profanity is to be avoided,they tend to be things like "please" "thank you" and "that's great" or "I'm looking forward to it."

But in contexts where profanity is encouraged, and even a sign of belonging to a social group, there's no point in being elitist about it. I'm not sure I like social stratification, but I've found it's difficult if not impossible to have meaningful social interaction without adopting the social conventions of those around you.

That is of course distinct from a style guide for an investor writing about business, who should probably maintain a clear and inoffensive tone to his writing.

OK People. Yes, Dave McClure writes like ee cummings' high school geocities page, but I think I know why:

If I'm a high visibility blogger and I'm going to write a piece wherein I intend on relaying a point to the people whose opinions I care about, there's going to be a lot of noise in the responses, no matter what. More often than not (and this happens on HN too) you get people giving long-winded, zero-value-added answers in hopes of being a part of the discussion.(edit: yes, this post kind of falls in that category, but I'm writing it anyways)

Writing something you want to talk about underneath a bunch of stoff that's easy to jump on is a good way to flag the worthless posts.

For instance, I might start off a blog post about how the White Stripes are shit. They are not good and they are certainly not ushering in a new era of anything. What I really want to talk about is how they got famous because, somewhere along the line, Rolling Stone started bottling their own farts. So then, if I get 100 responses, I can skim past the ones that amount to "OMG The White Stripes are like the best band EVAR! [personal attack] [grammer correction]" and get to the meat of the discussion about what happened to the zine touched by the minds of Hunter Thompson, Lester Bangs, and Patti Smith.

Also, I think he likes to give the impression that he's too busy and important for things like style. And, as far as I know, that's true, so I'd just let him get away with it and look what he was actually saying.

"Also, I think he likes to give the impression that he's too busy and important for things like style."

His blog post looked to me like he spent an awful lot of time messing around with fonts and embedding videos.

Not spending time on style, grammar or spelling looks sloppy, but intentionally making your writing look like horseshit comes across a lot worse.

That is an interesting way to look at it. Didn't Zed Shaw say something very similar in a post a few months back?

So Mike does some investigative work and finds something amiss, people flock and agree (which I still agree) amid some suspicious actions online, then one of those involved deny anything amiss in a horribly written blog post and everyone says, "Oh, Mike, you're so wrong!"

Really? Yes, 10 people that are purely angel investors and no one else get together to discuss "stock options" and pretty much give Mike a big F-U when he shows up and jokingly says stuff about sitting down for a drink. This guy doesn't even deny that Mike showed up and they all were silent: that alone is worrisome to me. Furthermore, Mike lead us to believe he got this information from a few of those attending: not anonymous sources as some try to portray.

This is pure rant, not much content.

But at least McClure is coming out and identifying himself as one of the people attended the meeting.

I wonder where and how this battle is going to end, both sides are equally powerful players.

What battle? To me it's all smoke an 0 fire.

Well, the battle between media accusation of 'colluding' and super angels asserting they are doing good for the valley.

Arrington definitely burned lots of bridges here to post this story out. While I'm not sure how credible his sources are, I envy his courage.

Mr. McClure's hyperbole about goon squads aside, his public assertion about the nature of the meeting holds a lot more water for me than the frantic whisperings of anonymous sources.

Anytime a bunch of people who sit on the same side of the table, economically speaking, get together, even socially, it's some flavor of collusion. Just forming social ties with people you should be in competition with is a little suspect. That doesn't automatically mean it's cartel-building, but it's not good news for the rest of us.

That said, is this a surprise to anyone? VCs are already groupthink-y enough. It is the natural behavior of oligopolies (de facto or otherwise) to seek to erect barriers to entry, and fix prices. We here operate in a sector that is still so wildly dynamic that we have better tools for breaking through that than begging the governmental leviathan to do it for us. We're faster, and can hit harder.

This is just me, but I find this response entirely unnecessary.

I think everyone in that meeting should have just kept their mouths shut. Admittedly, there are a bunch of reasons not to. A brief, to the point statement would have sufficed (Like, say a Tweet, or 2). Regardless of personality or writing style, the post seems a bit over the top.

But then again, I don't know/follow the guy, so it's probably standard fare.

Regardless, his excessive, contrived hip hop/"ghetto" attitude is quite annoying and setting your Twitter display to a bin38 logo says enough to me.

Edited cause I missed a word.

You figure he could be a little more professional. I guess a strategy for managing reputation risk is swear like a sailor in response to criticism and always ignore any specific concerns.

Having met Dave, I can say he's one of those people you immediately trust. The guy is set financially, and is only is the investment game for the fun of it.

And yeah, his style is bizarre, but that's just the way he likes it.

Anyway, if he says this is all much ado about nothing, he's almost certainly telling the truth.

Well, it seems Arrington was right...

I think that balloon has been convincingly punctured.

There is a hint of the old English society in there, where who would get invited to which parties mattered almost as much as what was actually discussed. (not to mention the seating arrangements).

Mike being sore for not being invited to this particular get-together is something straight from the 1890's, he's interpreting it as one of two things, either TC (and his person) is irrelevant, or there is something shady going on.

It can't be the former, so it has to be the latter.

A bit paranoid maybe.

Why would he be sore about not being invited? He's not an investor. He's a journalist/blogger.

Ego. He wasn't just not invited, but not even welcome for a drink. Normal people wouldn't have tried to crash in the first place, but Mike isn't normal.

Maybe they didn't want to read about their talk in TC in the morning so they decided not to invite him.

That's certainly reasonable and I wouldn't be amused to have my meeting crashed either. I have the feeling that Mike thinks he's a lot closer "friends" with these guys (and many others) than he really is. They butter him up to get the word out of their new hotness, but when it comes down to it they aren't friends.

Well that sure seemed to backfire.

Yep. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

The boy cried wolf. Even if it is true, who would believe that guy?

And a huge dose of entitlement.

You caught Ye Olde Merry England from that mess? It sounded like a wanksta (want-to-be gangster) to me.

I mean tongue firmly implanted in cheek or whatever, but if this is what lies outside of YCombinator and TechStars, then everyone not in those programs should just bootstrap, because I would get a headache having to hear all that talk from an investor.

Dave: when you're talking about the changing world, your tone smacks of bravado and is refreshingly blunt. But when you're responding to somewhat serious allegations, that same tone comes off as Vicky Pollard. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLd3-cfLlvU)

My humble advice? Have jeans and a suit; know when to wear what.

Reading this post and Arrington's yesterday, I am starting to wonder about the meaning of the word "friend". If these guys are really all friends, maybe they ought to turn to their enemies because I wouldn't want friends like these as my own enemies ;-)

Anyone who starts a post with "Unfortunately i probably have more balls than sense" is worth reading, if only for laughs. The typography and grammar leave a lot to be desired... but I'm in two minds about the content.

It's possible that this is a case of multiple perspectives, multiple interpretations. Some insiders think they're sitting down for a bit of kvetching, others think it's heading for a cartel (and blow the whistle). It'd be interesting to hear the perspective of a few of the other people around the table, especially the ones who tipped off Arrington.

Is there any other informed reaction to this stuff out there? Anyone else 'at the table' who's commented yet?

Yes it is his normal style I get that but given the amount of attention the post was going to get, and the likely way people reading have taken the situation you'd think he would have toned it down a little.

Anyone else notice the lack of denial of the wiki that Arrington spoke of?

Don't you think you'd mention there was no wiki if there was no wiki? There must be a wiki with something on it.

I can't think of a time when Arrington was seriously wrong. His leads get in way before the news breaks and his stories have even altered what was to be announced.

I doubt Mike just made this all up. Especially how everyone in that room has feed him stories for the past 5 years. Do you think Mike (a lawyer) would seek legal advice unless this was real.

Funny enough, both sides of this story are trying to win over startups! Either way, we win.

Not enough colors!

All this drama begs 2 questions from my POV: Are we seeing the end of the net startup ecosystem as it's been since Netscape? Is this happening because too much transparency, too much blogging, tweeting, and spewing your guts publicly all the time only creates negative emotions: jealousy, fame obsessions, arrogance, hate?

I'm trying to figure out who this was aimed at. Was it Mike? Was it PG? or Us the readers? Who is hating on Dave?

Here's how the next Arrington/McClure interview will pan out:


Arrington: Did you order the (code red) meeting?

McClure: I did the job I ...

Arrington: Did you order the (code red) meeting ? [shouting]

McClure: You're God damn right I did. [shouting]


A Few Good Men. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104257/quotes?qt0470412


McClure's post looks like the emails the whole company used to get from my menopausal VP back in 2001.


Sounds like you're unfamiliar with Dave's style in general - he's well known for his profanity.

This is a necessary denial. Why did Sundeep delete his tweet? He should've also made a denial.

I know McClure somewhat personally, and while Arrington's speculation was fun, and I'm sure many investors are trying to counteract YC's strength, I think he is an upstanding guy, and one of the most honest, cut to the shit people in the valley.

I think it was established yesterday on Quora that McClure was actually Arrington's source on where the meeting took place, and judging by the language in Arrington's post - that same source was also one of his post-meeting sources, so it might be him again.

McClure was in the TC office right before this dinner took place.

So you're saying he's playing both sides? Wouldn't Arrington have called him out on that? I don't know the quota discussion you are referring to.

Isn't the real question: Does he get results? That's all HN cares about, right? Not the outer trimmings?

I'm at a complete loss as to why presumably intelligent people pay attention to technophobes like miek Arrington. It was obvious to me many years ago that lacked integrity.

McClure and Paul Graham, for instance, are people who I disagree with on at least one subject, but they have integrity. I cannot say the same for Arrington. He seems to be pathological to me.

He runs a business, and he tries to keep it relevant. A SV blog about start-ups that has to come out with 5 blog posts a day? You're going to run out of things to write about... why not create them?

I personally haven't dug deep enough into any of the flame-baity stories of tech-crunch, but considering more than half of them have typos, grammatical errors that make it difficult to read sometimes, little or no substantiated FACTS, make it all seem like gossip. A Tech-TMZ if you will.

It seems like they crank those stories out so fast they don't even bother to proof read them. Some are starting to believe they don't bother to stop and evaluate the merit of the story to begin with.

Techcrunch is only relevant because enough people go there to GAWK at MA's posts. Any of the legit stories are on other news sites within a day, usually better written and with more information. Its obvious that TC can be an armpit sometimes because it has the most stories written about itself.

I would be willing to entertain the idea that even if Mike was on to something, his reputation and execution on this story is like the boy crying wolf for real but no one takes him seriously anymore.

Don't understand the down votes - look at what other people are writing about this story on their blogs and in the comments. My sentiment seems to be adopted widely.

God forbid someone on HN evaluates TechCrunch.

Agree. It's nice to see what goes on in the backrooms of SV. And whatever Dave was on, get me some!

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