In an attempt to cloud Shaker’s win of the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield, there has been a lot of reporting that TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington is one of Shaker’s “pending investors” to quote TechCrunch itself. A lot of journalists have made hay with this, most recently a guy named Ben Popper, who tweeted this:
benpopper Ben Popper
Mike @arrington, thanks for the tip about the 1st amendment. You’re still at risk of violating SEC rules – http://j.mp/pdgzX0
And then felt compelled to issue this tweet:
@benpopper Ben Popper
@arrington don’t expect or care for your attention. I report thoughts from securities experts. You tweet opinion.
Now Popper’s an example of journalists who claim they have no bias themselves. That’s a load of crap. That Popper would bother to get personal in his tweets with his subject, Arrington, shows he has a bias – against Arrington.
Popper claims that Michael writing about companies he has an investment in places him “at risk” of violating SEC rules. Then Popper posts the SEC rules without even thinking about their relevance to startups and what investors actually know. Popper turns up the heat, implying that Reid Hoffman’s blog post about Groupon should have mentioned that the firm lost $400 million.
The problem is that Popper has such an anti-Michael Arrington bias he didn’t think about what he was saying. Michael talks about his investment in startups in their angel rounds. That’s generally not the place where companies are losing $400 million, and if they were dropping that kind of dough, they’re not early stage (less than a year old) startups in any case. Groupon was launched in November 2008; Shaker, er, three weeks ago or so.
The point is, so many journalists write from an emotional place, then try to make it read as if it’s unbiased. That’s the biggest fraud of all. I’d prefer Popper to just come out and say what is obvious to all: he doesn’t care for Michael Arrington.
A lot of writers make Popper’s errors when it comes to this subject. Look, regardless of what anyone says, including some of TechCrunch’s writers (who need to go out and start companies themselves and not write about them) Shaker won because it created the most buzz. What’s disruptive about Shaker is also so subversive, most people miss it: it makes people talk about it, check it out, and try it.
That’s what’s disruptive. What some TechCrunch writers miss, and others too, is that same value placed in that award for at, drum-roll please, The Crunchies: the ultimate timesync, is the same one that defines what a disruption is in tech. That’s what Shaker is: a disruptor of your day, something, like Facebook itself, you do to connect with people, taking time away from other tasks.
A lot of writers missed that, and also missed how a firm gets to the Startup Battlefield. It’s called VOTES. I voted via cell phone, and so did thousands of others. Michael didn’t tell anyone who to vote for, and the fact is, few would listen to him. Why? People are going to vote for something they like, period. That Michael is involved in it, or for that matter that I’m connected with two of the founders, is good for us. Is that important to disclose? Hell yeah it is.
If Popper was at TechCrunch Disrupt, he would have known the buzz was about Shaker. It was all over the floor after Monday’s presentation. That’s why Shaker won – not because of Michael.
And note that no one blogged that you’re “going to make a lot of money” from investing in Shaker. That misses the point of what an investment does: it provides money for a firm to actually meet its business plan by making whatever is needed to help the business become a reality. That’s the point.
Look, the real crime is that journalists don’t run their own tech companies – hell, it would save journalism. The rule should be “Don’t blog or write about tech if you’ve never started a company yourself.” That’s a good rule to apply. Let’s see how it works.
Mr. Popper, I’m waiting to see your startup.