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I worked for TC for a long time and lived and worked in the same house as Mike for almost 4 years, so I know how he works very well.

First, Compete totally gets Techcrunch traffic wrong. Not only the numbers, but the trends would totally not match up with our own internal Google Analytics, and even the data such as top referrers etc. were way off. Compete should not be used as supporting evidence that Techcrunch is fading.

The number of re-tweets, comments, referral traffic, twitter subscribers, Techememe headlines, HN headlines, story leads etc. is as high as ever. Monthly uniques are nowhere near the 1M compete would want us to believe they are.

There are a few different types of blogger. Those who don't get access to stories and rely on press releases, generally boring. Then there are those who get access to information, but refuse to post about it for fear of pissing somebody off, just as boring and probably worse than the first type. Then there is the type of blogger who gets access to information, and has no problem stepping on toes to get the information out.

Mike is of this variety. You could say that he is the prime example of the new breed of process journalist - he would rather a (now rather low) error rate on 1-2% of stories in order to get the other 98% out there for the audience. I have intimate knowledge of how he works and how he puts stories together - to the extent that even now, with him on the other side of the world, I can read a story on headline and put together what went on behind the scenes to get this story out (such as the Facebook stock story). He is constantly on the phone and emailing people. He literally has hundreds of people on speed dial, on skype and in his email contact list - he would send dozens of single-line emails each day building information up around the story, and over the years has gotten very good at both extracting responses from people first, and then figuring out what is really happening by triangulating.

Sometimes the stories are posted a little early, and you see that process play out through a post being edited or through multiple posts that make up a larger story (like Scamville, and almost certainly this Facebook stock story). Arrington and his stories reflect the scene - if he is pumping a startup, it is because through talking to dozens of investors he keeps hearing about it. He rarely is the first to step out, but is a lot better at capturing mood and opinion and then amplifying it. He can also put his finger on what is wrong and what is right - and Angelgate was an example of that.

That also applies to this Facebook stock story. Do you really think he would just pick on him for no reason? Or is it more likely that he got a tip about it, confirmed it with one more person, phoned Facebook to talk about it (who asked to be off the record), contacted the guy in question, and then posted the story? A blogger who just makes things up and is wrong would never have an audience.

You only ever have to talk to anybody who has worked with Mike, any startup who has gone through the process with him, or any other blogger who respects that process, to understand that there is something special going on there. Mike has a lot of people he can count on in his circle and within the industry because of that. I watched him approach almost every word in a post with a lawyer's caution - he would constantly review even after a post is published and the possibility of not getting something right totally eats at him (to the point where he can't sleep). You have completely mischaracterized him as being careless, from a guy who used to wake me up at 5am just to check the smallest details of a story. Just shows that you totally do not understand what and who you are trying to diss at.

If you don't like this style of story - then don't read it. There are plenty of blogs that just churn out press release after press release and appease those who don't want to see the boat rocked. But don't attempt to string together poor traffic stats and two or three misses from a collection of thousands of hits into some narrative about Techcrunch failing.

If Techcrunch earned a dollar for ever blog post that has been written about it failing or jumping the shark then it could easily double revenue. Fact is that right now it still dominates startup news, is one of the main outlets to reach a startup audience if your are launching a product, and even with Mike writing less it is not fading anywhere - since his style is contagious and has been picked up by other writers.

I have seen this trend cycle of things being cool when new, and then suddenly uncool when popular, play out too many times not to be wise to it. There is nothing wrong with reading Techcrunch and other blogs, this isn't winner takes all. I enjoy reading HN, Reddit, The Startup Foundry, etc. This isn't grade school where you need to pick a team to be on and do your best to fight the other tribe (especially including personal attacks, which completely makes you cheap) - if you think you can do better in any way, try it, keep writing with Venturebeat and don't bitch about it - the readers and audience will decide based on quality not on preaching.




http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/09/compete-on-compete/

http://techcrunch.com/2009/08/07/hey-what-happened-to-scribd...

http://techcrunch.com/2007/08/16/usatoday-relaunch-as-social...

et cetera

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Nick C. I know Mike pretty well too, including your history with him.He is a shithead of the highest order. Just because he put up with your nonsense doesnt make him special. The article is dead on.

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The irony in the OP is that he is a blogger criticizing another blogger for poor quality and his own post is complete shit.

A proper critique of Techcrunch would look more like this:

Take some real traffic and social network stats

Take a sample of stories from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 years ago and compare volume, subject matter, stories about startups to show a trend in topics covered, etc. Produce a nice graph showing how the # of startup stories has decreased. Overlay it with traffic stats.

Show examples of startups that launched without Techcrunch

Show examples of other tech conferences, other sources of startup information and how they compare, new upcoming blogs

Show examples of stale writing, poor writing, where tech issues were not correct. Do this using quotes and links.

Substantiate each one of these points and conclude using all this data that the influence of Techcrunch may not be what is once was, then pontificate what the future may hold.

Writing a proper story would require effort - it is a lot easier to take a screenshot from compete, call somebody a dick, submit it to HN and appeal to the masses.

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That is a much, much higher standard than TechCrunch itself seems to use.

On one hand you claim inaccuracies are "2%" and acceptable, and that a few phone calls is enough research before going to press. On the other hand you demand a 6-point research project before someone can even begin to criticize TC in turn.

Where is your six-point research project backing up why "his own post is complete shit"? I have no opinion either way -- but I believe you're applying very different standards of proof.

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his post was a poor personal attack with zero effort to back up any claims. I outlined one of the ways it could have been a better post.

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This has nothing to do with personalities or personal issues, I am rating him professionally in the scope of being a blogger.

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Thats fine. Professionally he's a hack. All insider info from pals. He bullies and tries to scare people. I've seen it many times. Plus its all personal with him. He does hit jobs on companies and people he doesnt like.The guys a wannabee journo. Just another lawyer who hated it.

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I read more Economist and The Nation than TechCrunch, so I'm not going to address your qualms. However, I was curious about this: "All insider info from pals." -- How else would you get exclusive information?

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Forgive me if I've read you wrong, but it seems to me that you're saying there are three types of startup journalists out there:

1) People who rewrite press releases

2) People who rewrite press releases

3) TechCrunch

Said like that, and given that you spent a good deal of time working with them - don't you think you could be revealing a wee bit of bias? (not that the original blog isn't)

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I didn't mean to say that Mike is the only type 3 blogger - in my own opinion I would include Mike Masnick, Henry Blodget, Danny Sullivan, the TorrentFreak guys, Om, Steve Gillmor etc.

If it read any other way, it wasn't my intention.

As an example, there was the Scamville[1] story about Offerpal and the offers in games on the Facebook platform and others. I was listening in to some of the calls Mike was making, and he told me about others, and it was apparent that another journalist had the same story a month earlier, but had been convinced not to publish it.

There were entire blogs dedicated to covering the space, but nobody said a word about users getting ripped off with misleading scams. Then when you visit these blogs you find the sponsor squares in the sidebar were the same companies that were involved with the bad offers.

That is definitely 'type 2'

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming...

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Thanks for clarifying. There is no question that the scamville series was great journalism and a tribute to what they can do when they put their minds to it. Of course, I didn't know about another outlet passing on the story due to advertiser conflict but that certainly doesn't surprise me. By the same token, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to hear examples of Mike doing similar things, though it's probably more likely to be a relationship conflict. One of the great hallmarks of classic journalism was always the firewall between advertising and editorial. It's always seemed that professional blogging has almost prided itself (in a mostly unsaid way) with the breakdown of that wall - or perhaps they were all just too small to care. Even news behemoths seem to be rather captured by the enemy these days, or at least have lost a lot of the fervor that defended the split 30-40 years ago.

I feel conflicted about TC's voice, and I doubt I'm the only one. This isn't a new feeling, I've never been a huge fan - but it does seem to be worse now after the AOL acquisition. That doesn't mean I'm willing to not read it entirely as they clearly develop some good stories (be they third party or not). A lot of the rest gives me real pause before I click on a story of theirs in an aggregator. Between the almost zero content posts, the blind brand boosterism, obvious collusion in some startup coverage, hit jobs on the competition and petty stories about what bad thing some AT&T call center rep tweeted - it's a real minefield.

It's too bad that the startup and tech world doesn't think itself worthy of a quality paper like the finance industry does. While clearly there is more money in new york, there is certainly enough flowing in silicon valley to support some real subscription journalism. Perhaps the problem is that it's off message - you can't support quality subscription journalism in your corner while attacking it everywhere else. Maybe some day someone with a big exit who loves news will take on the challenge and give a shot at becoming the Murdoch of the west coast, willing to subsidize quality if that's what it takes. Heck, maybe even Arrington could do that - they seem to share a particular brand of crazy - it's just that Murdoch mostly keeps his in other people's publications.

Such a thing probably wouldn't start off with a bang, but with a whimper. It might even be as unremarkable as a popular tech blog slowly and quietly raising their own internal standards over time.

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I agree, and I mentioned in below in another reply, there is definitely an opportunity to create a blog that is more technical and aimed more at the developer/tech/entrepreneur community.

There is an audience that is only interested in about 10% of what is on TC, but have nowhere to go atm to find more of the same.

There isn't a blog that really epitomizes the types of stories that are featured here on HN every day. There isn't an outlet that dominates HN news as much as Techcrunch dominates the Techmeme crowd.

The problem is that the audience wants both quality and volume. You can't get away with just a post a day - and producing at least 3-4 good quality tech/dev stories, 7 days a week, is a lot of hard work

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I remember when you used to write for TC and it sucks there isn't anyone technical there anymore. Masnick is my new favorite blogger. I used to troll you guys, so it seems weird to now defend you :-)

I wish there were another blogger with VC access, but that takes time.

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You might think otherwise, but most bloggers love the trolls. It was always the troll comments that would get called out across the office.

It is a lot harder to write technical stories. You could write 4-5 stories a day about startups or other news, but a tech story could take all day to assemble.

There is definitely an opportunity in a Techcrunch-like blog that is more technical. It just requires a lot of work and patience. The only way to build up an audience is to write frequently, and producing 3-4 good articles a day is difficult.

Most VCs love talking to bloggers. Their job is to network and to be a hub of information - so I don't know why more bloggers don't simply introduce themselves and ask. There isn't really an impenetrable wall there - it is just a matter of finding them and reaching out. They are definitely the best sources.

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"... There are a few different types of blogger. Those who don't get access to stories and rely on press releases, generally boring. Then there are those who get access to information, but refuse to post about it for fear of pissing somebody off, just as boring and probably worse than the first type. Then there is the type of blogger who gets access to information, and has no problem stepping on toes to get the information out. ..."

So which explanation did TC use for it's lack of reporting on Omnidrive? "Omnidrive - Is This The Sad End?" (technation: story now dead) ~ http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=309892

For the backstory cf: Gawker, Jackson West, "The Omnidrive story you won’t read on TechCrunch" ~ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:p12eHH2...

and http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootload/2913315731/

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Still the same type - or are you asking why Techcrunch didn't cover a story from Valleywag?

I marked Omnidrive as deadpool in CrunchBase, and it isn't uncommon for Techcrunch to not cover a story that has been covered elsewhere, esp since Mike was an investor and was wary of conflicts

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"... I marked Omnidrive as deadpool in CrunchBase, and it isn't uncommon for Techcrunch to not cover a story that has been covered elsewhere, esp since Mike was an investor and was wary of conflicts ..."

My tone is skeptical Nik because I read stories, information and posts with my BS detection at maximum when I detect ambiguity.

I'm interested in ambiguous stories because it's possible to find in them both the truth but sometimes non-truths. Take for instance a story which I posted on HN 3 years ago, "The Google Way: Give Engineers Room". [0] I posted the story because it was interesting. But it took a fellow HN'r Karzeem [1] to suggest something wasn't quite right. You can read the post for yourself. I wasn't thinking Google is bad or looking for subterfuge by the New York times. But that's what we got. I emailed the New York times for clarification and it turns out because the story was in fact a "Submarine". A plant by Google and the Times to make Google appear a great place to work in the guise of an interview. Except it wasn't. You can read it yourself on HN.[2] karzeem and myself agreed this was a great article not because of the content, but because it exposed the mechanism the Times could paid placement as stories by hiding it in the Fashion section (not the hard news section) and how Google positions itself.

The story behind the closure of Omnidrive is ambiguous.

I first picked up the inconsistencies when an article in a conservative local business magazine, BRW mentions Omnidrive not only in the top 100 Web 2.0 companies in Australia, but in the top 50.[3] How could this be? Omnidrive for all intensive purposes was in the deadpool? So I contacted Renai LeMay a local journalist who worked at ZD Net to ask, "why was Omnidrive inclused?". His reply Omnidrive was active. Timing matters here. I asked LeMay in 2008JUL08 but the deadpool lists Omnidrive as "officially closed in September of 2008" [4][5][6] Which is it? The duplicity makes me think the ambiguity was for a reason. It might not be, but I'm suspicious. Is it possible in the ambiguity in this story was used as a smoke screen for other reasons?

    As the major investor in Omnidrive I am stunned not to have received any 
    information from Nik on what’s been happening over the last few months. 
    I have emailed him a number of times, but have not had a single reply. 
    The last I heard he was flying around the world, after launching 
    Techcrunch IT, and also building the Techcrunch tablet for Michael 
    Arrington. [7]
I'll let you, the reader ponder the reasons for ambiguity by pointing you to Clay Cook, a fellow Australian and ex-angel.[8] I follow through with stories like the closure of Omnidrive, not because I have any particular interest in Omnidrive or (you) Nik, but for reasons of clarity. If I read a story with a degree ambiguity, I like the clarify the reasons why, to analyse and understand. If a statement is made, test for it's validity against what I know. Will it stand up to a degree of scrutiny? I like follow-up posts like this because I think it's a good real-life lesson for fellow HN's to not take information at face value. Startups are by their nature complex but fragile things that constantly fall over and fail.

    Lesson: Your investors are here to help you, keep them informed 
            and you have a much higher likelihood of receiving help. [9]
They are run by optimistic, risk taking individuals who like take charge with technology, who value making new things and maybe, just maybe short circuit the "money-problem". The trip from technologist to entrepreneur to successful entrepreneur is complex and requires many skills, technical and personal. I think the most important skill to foster is to "be-good".

"Be good", not to be virtuous, be good because the algorythm is stateless and as a strategy, it works. [10]

Reference

[0] Bharat Mediratta, Julie Bick, "The Google Way: Give Engineers Room"

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=70827

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootload/2913315731/

[1] karzeem, HackerNews

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=karzeem

[2] "The Google Way: Give Engineers Room", et.al.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=70827

[3] "Official launch of the Top 100 Australian Web 2.0 Applications list"

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://rossdawsonblog.com/weblog/archives/2008/06 /official_launch.html

[4] Where I (@bootload) ask "@renailemay how did Omnidrive make the list? ~ http://tinyurl.com/6f3cx8*

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

https://twitter.com/#!/bootload/statuses/850502396

[5] and @renailemay replies "@bootload omnidrive is still functioning"*

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

https://twitter.com/#!/renailemay/statuses/850550575

[6] At a later point Ross Dawson a blogger who noted the top 100 in the BRW article also chimed in with some more detail, "At the time that the list was compiled Omnidrive was still functioning, so merited being on the list pending further notice. ... And yes, it certainly does appear to have died now... ".

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootload/2913315731/

[7] Clay Cook, "Nik Cubrilovic Omnidrive lesson",

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://www.claycook.net/2008/10/16/nik-cubrilovic-omnidrive-...

[8] Clay Cook, "My experience investing in Nik Cubrilovic..."

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://www.gooruze.com/members/claycook/blog/119381/My-exper...

[9] Clay Cook, "Nik Cubrilovic Omnidrive lesson", et.,al.

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://www.claycook.net/2008/10/16/nik-cubrilovic-omnidrive-...

[10] Paul Graham, Be Good, last paragraph, "Compass"

[Accessed Sunday 3rd April, 2011]

http://paulgraham.com/good.html

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I appreciate the work you put into your post, but I can't help but point out that it's "all intent[s] and purposes" not "all intensive purposes." Apologies for the snark.

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"... "all intent[s] and purposes" not "all intensive purposes." Apologies for the snark. ..."

None taken. I like the corrections, thanks.

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just want you to know that I have seen this - going to reply to it later today when I have a moment to read through it all!

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Yes, BUT...

Insider trading is a legal a SEC definition..while selling stock on the 2nd market by itself is not insider trading..given Mike's caution in word use by your story something rings or smells real bad..about Mike using those words to describe something that might not approach that definition.

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Yeah I largely agree with this: this is a turd of a hatchet job of an article. Pretty obvious that there are personal gripes coming thru. The dipshit acolytes in the comments there cheering on this asshole are particularly galling.

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Agreed, Arrington is not afraid to write interesting things. Wish he wrote more often. btw, its not just compete that shows the drop in readership in the end of 2010

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