Are People Finally Getting Bored with the Tech-Blog Circle Jerk?

Categories: Tech

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At this point, I have to believe that all the people in the Pando Daily-TechCrunch-Uncrunched-whatever micro-universe have consciously incorporated their onanistic little circle jerk into their collective business model. You can almost picture it just that way: Michael Arrington, Sarah Lacy, MG Siegler, Paul Carr and whomever else, sitting in a circle, each gazing into a mirror as they handle each other's nethers -- sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively. Then they post the whole thing online and watch the clicks pile up.

What any of it really has to do with the business of technology, I'm not entirely sure, except that the emotional maldevelopment on display is somehow enough to attract millions of dollars from tech investors and advertisers.

Apparently Arrington and Siegler are on the outs with Pando Daily. The details this time, like every other time, almost don't matter, except that there are so many dollars involved, along with, perhaps, the fortunes of some people in the tech biz. So I guess we have to go through the litany, at least cursorily:

Arrington and Siegler used to work for TechCrunch, which Arrington founded and later sold to AOL. Following a period of "drama" that was whipped up mostly by themselves (wherein some of them -- basically trade journalists, remember -- bragged of their own "swagger"), they left AOL after AOL told them they were violating the most basic of journalism ethics rules by investing the companies they were writing about. Anyway, that's what happened with Arrington, and Siegler followed, bringing his "swagger" with him.

Then came Pando Daily, launched by Sarah Lacy, also formerly of TechCrunch. Pando's lack of ethics is at the very core of its being: It's financed by a whole bunch of venture capitalists and tech moguls. And it covers tech startups. Which means that its owners, in one way or another, nearly always have some kind of financial stake in the "stories" it runs.

Arrington, Siegler, and Carr all agreed to write for Pando. Arrington and Siegler's CrunchFund took a stake in Pando, and Arrington was named to its board. (I'm not precisely sure where Paul Carr fits into all of this. He's written a lot of painfully narcissistic stuff for both TechCrunch and Pando -- that's the extent of my knowledge. Oh, and he's in his early 30s and has already written three autobiographical -- or, auto-something -- books that apparently are meant to convince readers of how wild and crazy and rebellious and everything he is. Did you know he used to drink? Like, alcohol? Enough to get drunk, and on a regular basis? It's true!)

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56 comments
David Parker
David Parker

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Thirdeye
Thirdeye

Tech blogs are just like tech startups.  Some schtick attracts attention and money gets thrown in by those who think they can make money off of the Next Big Thing.  "Value" is determined largely by attention.  The business model is driven by seeking attention, not by providing any uniquely useful product or service.  Is the attention directed to personal politics and not products and ideas?  No problem!  All attention is good attention!  But most of the time the real value is zero because the value to the consumer is zero.  The later that realization occurs, the better for the originators and the worse for everyone else. 

What's most disturbing is, that mentality seems to have gotten a hold of some of the old hands of tech journalism who have more mainstream forums. The journalist's reputation is used to leverage attention-getting and unethical behavior.  Randall Kennedy pushed that game too far and went down in flames of disgrace.  Walt Mossberg and Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols frequently dance close to the line.

Ed Oswald
Ed Oswald

Dan - from one tech journo with ethics and a lack of ego to another, bravo. This accurately sums up the lot of them. Ashamed to say that all of em are about my age. If this is the class of tech journalists we have coming up, there's going to be a huge problem.

But I think the circle jerking you speak of has given those young journos looking to these folks as people to look up to a second chance to step back and say "is this ethically okay?" I'm hoping they see the light. MG used to be a good journalist when he was with VentureBeat, tho, to be fair.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

One thing that mystifies me, but that I didn't really want to get into in this item, is that MG Siegler, in particular, is a *terrible* writer. He's been called "great" and "TechCrunch's best writer" (which might have been true, actually). But then I read him, and - awful. I think a certain kind of reader - lots of them, apparently - is drawn to this kind of thing, which is a false "provocativeness." When being "provocative" is itself the goal, it doesn't work, at least for discerning readers.

But even aside from the freshman-dorm puerility and the false bravado (about smartphone apps!) - he's clumsy and dull. Lots of "to be" verbs," no music, no rhythm. Outright bad grammar. Typos galore. And while he might know his stuff about tech products, I've never seen any real insight in his business analysis.

Don't ever accuse me of having no ego. I have a pretty big one, as do most people who do this for a living. The trick, I think, is to make it work for you rather than to work for it, as these people do.

NTC From Texas
NTC From Texas

Funny, I had read, but could not finish, one of Paul Carr's books.  I wrote a review that basically echoed your sentiment about the book - "Look at me, I'm so crazy and wild and I drink alcohol..."  I want to like PandoDaily and do read it from time to time, but the "site of record for Silicon Valley" seems truly lacking.  It'll fold in a year.

Karl L Hughes
Karl L Hughes

This article makes me think you're looking to get in on the circle jerking yourself.  Seriously, if you want people to stop giving these narcissistic assholes attention, then stop giving it to them.  I can only guess that you've decided to join in the fray and use this article as your invitation to their world of tech writers that people actually talk about.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

I've been writing about technology since I worked for Wired in 1996. If I wanted to circle jerk, I could have started a long time ago.

Bruce Allen
Bruce Allen

Thank you for posting this. Needed to be said. 

Emilie Cole
Emilie Cole

It's a testament to her reporting that Kara & the ATD team aren't involved in this.

John Beaty
John Beaty

"Onanistic circle-jerk" is a redundancy, just like the subjects.

And Pander Daily is perfectly named.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

Nope, I thought very carefully about that construction. In traditional onanism, there's no circle.

John Beaty
John Beaty

Yes, but all circle-jerks are onanism by definition. Still, a very appropriate , er, image.

Robin Wauters
Robin Wauters

Psst, his name is Siegler, but good to see there are still fact-checking journalists out there.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

Yeesh, I panicked for a second thinking I misspelled it throughout despite having checked. But there was only one instance - probably a last minute edit. Fixed now, thanks.

oldskoool
oldskoool

Arrington is over and done.  His only talent lies in promoting his own lame tired agenda.  A miserable dirtbag, who'd would sell his own mom if it made him a buck and he could talk about  himself.  Why anyone would  think he is an expert in this space is a complete joke as he is really  just a bloated noxious  gossip columnist.    No value, no relevance just ignore and wait to  see the portfolio returns.  

DreW
DreW

This fits in with hipster culture. Hipster bloggers with no tech experience attempting to "curate" the industry. Please die.

Yodayoda
Yodayoda

These people have been so obsessed by themselves they forgot to watch what was happening around them.

Each and every one of them a hopeless journalist, but a self involved stain.

Guest 444
Guest 444

Aw, come on...it's a fascinating Oedipal-kind-of-thing going on...and, we love to watch car crashes...

The sad thing is, Lacey (and Carr) used to be unique voices and good reads.  But, with PandoDaily, Lacey has decided she's as big (bigger?) than Arrington, pontificating about how Billion Dollar businesses should take her advice.  Carr has decided that his Andy Rooney routine (a great closing 2 minutes) is something the audience wants interjected into the conversation every two minutes.

Now, PandoDaily ousts it's lead financier and old friend Arrington?  When it has low traffic numbers and no revenue?  Lacey never should have though she could or should compete with Techcrunch - She'd have fared far better if she'd followed a different path; but dreams-of-grandeur are never as much fun as dreams-of-niche.

The irony is that Techcrunch has evolved to be a fairly decent tech blog (better than it used to be).  PandoDaily probably has enough cash to stay afloat, especially if it keeps hiring teenagers (who appear to have devoured the Techcrunch archives in the hope of becoming instant tech bloggers with no life experience).

"The whole damn mess is out of this World."

And it's better than watching most television.

Lindsay O'Neal
Lindsay O'Neal

"And of course, all this is playing out in public, because nobody is as fascinated by Arrington, Siegler, Carr, and Lacy as Arrington, Siegler, Carr, and Lacy are."Has ever a sentence been so true?

Jett
Jett

Haha, so true....Techcrunch, PanoDaily, et al: "What any of it really has to do with the business of technology, I'm not entirely sure"

Stan Faryna
Stan Faryna

Um - the whole tech-startup-geek wants to be a med-drama rockstar... is all about narcissism, navel-gazing, and cat fight. How else can self-opinionated losers live vicariously through their heroes?

Recently on my blog: He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) http://wp.me/pbg0R-IT

PositOrange
PositOrange

Tech journalism has been this sort of closed off, self-congratulatory, self-promotional society for quite a while now. Techcrunch has always been like this and this attitude has filtered off to other sites. Try getting media attention as a startup if you're not part of the club. Even if you have a genuinely interesting and unique product, getting attention from tech media can be difficult without having good connections. There's a certain closed off society within Silicon Valley and people in the media promote their friend's products first and do no actual journalism. Nothing wrong with that, but people should realize what they're all about. People coming from outside of the club need to realize that getting the attention of media in all practical terms is a crapshoot even if your product is actually innovative. But luckily a lot of these bloggers are on the way down because tools like Twitter and Facebook make it easier to bypass them. I think that a big part of the reason that more and more companies are looking towards social media is that allows them to bypass the gatekeepers and reach out directly to their target audience with no barriers. If you look at how many businesses are promoting their Facebook/Twitter URL rather than their own site, if you look at how many companies are listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansrevi... that do nothing other than promote Facebook pages, and if you see how hyped up all kinds of businesses are about getting more traction on these social sites you'd see how important this is to most startups. There are definitely ways to make it more likely to get actual media attention, but its still all a bit of a gamble in time and energy because if you don't have good connections, its very hard to break through the media barriers. Avoiding the Techcrunch masturbatory cone of silence is a good way to avoid extra stress and idiocy.

Andy
Andy

"They weren't writing about smartphone apps and browser extensions."A+

NetscapePizza
NetscapePizza

Pando Daily is the stupidest name for a website I have ever heard in my entire life.

Even stupider than Bing and Boo.com

Mr_Haight
Mr_Haight

This post was a great way to start my day. Thank you!

AnOutsider
AnOutsider

100% agreed. Thanks for posting this, it needed to be said.

sachxn
sachxn

I cent percent agree with you.....I do not read Pando now any more.....there are still better things than that...

Ian Davies
Ian Davies

Watching Lacey's hilarious attempt to interview Mark Zuckerberg at SXSW back in 2008 told me everythng I needed to know about that particular egomaniac.

For as long as I can remember, Arrington and Siegler have been unable to restrain themselves from showing just what collossal bell-ends they are.

Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker
Jeanne-Elise M. Heydecker

I have to say, though, that when Sarah Lacey was writing her book on entrepreneurs outside the US, she visited us in India to see our solar powered telecom equipment. I arranged to have her visit several villages where our systems were live and she saw the impact telecom had on the rural villagers. I found her warm, intelligent and open to learning about new, industry-changing technologies. I never found her ego getting in the way. Maybe there are issues within the way her new company is structured/financed, but overall, the reporting has been interesting. Not a big fan of Arrington or Seigler, but Lacey I like.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

I'm not surprised by this, actually. She's done some good stuff. She came from real journalism, unlike the others. But she's not doing that anymore, and let's face it, she's just as self-enamored as the others, though maybe she has the ability to turn it off when necessary.

Swole.Me
Swole.Me

What if it's all fake and intentionally overdramatized. Just like wrestling.

Jack Mardack
Jack Mardack

Everything you wrote is correct. And yet you have permitted yourself to be made a pawn in their scheme by amplifying their undeserved visibility still further with this post.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

Yeah. Well, that's just kinda how it is with this kind of thing, I'm afraid. But the logical conclusion to the "don't bring attention to it" theory is that a lot of stuff wouldn't get written about.

Coop
Coop

Queue bitchy responses from all parties tagged in 5, 4, 3, 2....

SadPanda
SadPanda

I wish I was as cool as all those tech pplz :(

Bob
Bob

And this article didn't mention Scoble. That was refreshing. 

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

That seems almost retro. But I'm not actually plugged into all this stuff on a daily basis these days, so it's hard to say. I also left out Business Insider. Despite what you see here, I'm actually trying hard to direct my attention to more important matters.

RianlikeBrian
RianlikeBrian

Hear that? It's the sound of a nail being hit squarely on the head. Well done.

MichaelBrianBentley
MichaelBrianBentley

I read the original posting on Pando, and read Arrington's comments on Uncrunched. There was little connective information provided, so the causality isn't clear. The bottom line is that Arrington and Siegler aren't now involved with Pando, and the reasons make sense to Pando stakeholders. The parties will survive.

Navarr Barnier
Navarr Barnier

I unsubscribed from the whole lot of them awhile back, trusting Hacker News with most of my hacker news.  I'm a happier man these days.

jdrch
jdrch

This is the most amazing thing I've read all year

Alex Fossington-Gore
Alex Fossington-Gore

enough easily amused readers who are fascinated enough to watch the whole thing and weigh in in comments sections, often with a tone of grave seriousness (these people know about Syria, right?)

And some people write articles about it too :-)

shakira Mongul
shakira Mongul

I always find it odd to come across snarky remarks about those who leave comments on "useless articles" in the comment section of a so-called pointless post. Sadly, a large population of the people will always be more interested in the color of Paris Hilton's panties and what hot-shot tech journalist are doing with their "talent" next. While this is not ideal, it's a reality--only proven more true when one more haughty comment is piled atop the last. (exhibit a and b).   

What's syria? does it come on iphone5?

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