Scoble: hit man of Silicon Valley?

Today a “journalist” (Dan Lyons) says I have been hitting up VCs to start my own fund.

Really? I didn’t know that!

For the record, I’m not raising a fund. This article is NOT accurate.

But, it sure comes up in conversation a lot. At two events tonight it came up. First, I was interviewing Wealthfront’s CEO Andy Rachleff. That interview is here and it’s an interesting business which is helping people with their investing in a new way (everyone who has $5,000 and up, that is). At that interview we talked about what being an investor is all about and after the interview was over the question about whether I would do my own fund came up. Andy has been a VC for a long time, so I listened to his advice, which he offered.

Later I was at a business school event at Stanford where there was a panel of venture and angel investors. Afterward they crowded around me and asked me why I haven’t done a fund yet.

Truth is my life rocks and I am not sure I want to screw that up. See, investors do a lot of the same things I’m doing (networking, watching how things spread, and hear lots of pitches) but they also do a lot of things I don’t like (board of directors meetings, negotiating, saying no, etc etc). I’m not sure I want to give up my great life where I do almost only things I love to do (which is talk with people about technology, innovation, and their companies) just for a chance to make some real money. So far I’ve resisted that path, even turned down $500,000 to start my own business last year.

Anyway, I’ve written tons about this issue on Dan Lyon’s Google+ account. If you care about what happened, and the way this “journalism” got reported you can read these posts:

1. Dan Lyons claims I have a fund and am hitting up VCs to join it. Dan wrote a followup post that he was taking heat from commenters.

2. Dan wrote about my correction to his story and that I claimed it wasn’t true. It wasn’t. In the comments there I further explain myself.

3. Dan apologized to me and tried to explain more about his source’s claims (which are bull, I’ve never had a fund).

Anyway, it’s sort of flattering to have everyone thinking I’m doing a fund. Maybe I should take Mike Arrington out to dinner and learn what it’s like…


One other thing. Someone asked me what I thought of what Mike Arrington is doing with his CrunchFund.

I think it’s great. It’s also great that he gets to tell me what companies he’s interested in.

I know where his conflicts come from. I’m an intelligent reader. If he pushes a company I know that it might be because he has a financial stake in the company. I’m totally not bothered by this. If you are, there are PLENTY of other tech outlets to read. I have a Twitter list with almost 500 tech news brands in it. In fact, Arrington and his blog aren’t in there because I don’t look at Arrington as a news outlet, although I do look at investors as interesting people to watch. I have a separate Twitter list of tech industry investors.

Seems to me it’s pretty easy as a reader to get lots of news, both biased and unbiased, so it’s not something that keeps me up at night.

My contract with you is that I will tell you when I have conflicts of interest and then you’ll have to decide which list you put me on, or even if you keep listening to me. Fair enough?

UPDATE: Dan just wrote another article, which got me to respond again over on Google+. This will be my final comment on the saga.


35 thoughts on “Scoble: hit man of Silicon Valley?

  1. Dan is completely off his rocker lately. This is the 3rd or 4th story from him recently that has been total BS. I agree with you Robert, there are ton of tech news sources out there and WE have the choice of what WE decide to read. If WE are not smart enough to pick up on people being biased than thats our own fault. I follow your blog to discover new companies, entrepreneurs, and cool technology. I then decide on MY own if I want to dig deeper or check out that cool new app that you spoke about. I wouldn’t care if you were financially invested or not. Why would that even matter? That would only say to me how freaking awesome that it would have to be for you to put your own money into it!!

    Dan has hard a hard time getting any attention so he has now turned to writing made up drama stories just to get a reaction. Notice that his comments on his stories are way down unless he makes us some crap like he has been doing lately? Just keep up the great work Robert and forget about all the hopeless clowns like Dan.


  2. I found it entirely ironic that the DailyBeast talked so much about ethics while simultaneously slandering your reputation so that they could get attention. It’s funny how that works.


  3. I read rapaciously — books, blogs, Facebook and Google+ posts, tweets and Twitter links; and, in all my reading, there is one individual who stands out as the most honest, transparent, insightful, wise, knowledgable, hard-working, unpretentious, and generous of all high tech gurus: ROBERT SCOBLE!  


  4. Great post, hopefully calling out lazy reporting and selective, out-of-context quotes will reduce those practices a bit.

    PS I’d love to know where on the internet you find unbiased news on any topic. I’ve been searching for years, to no avail.


    1. The only way you can have “unbiased news” is if the reporter and the reader have the same biases.
      Otherwise, your best chance would be news from “Robot Journalists”.


      1. I would suggest that a reader and writer with the same biases only produce an echo chamber in which it appears to those inside it as though there is no bias. There’s still bias in such a case, and in some ways it’s the worst kind of bias because both parties are clueless about its existence.


  5. If Dan Lyons is trying to discredit you, that means Microsoft is after you. They don’t like your pro-Apple ways. You have been targeted. 


  6. The problem with your reasoning here, Robert, is that it’s too logical! 🙂 

    I particularly like that you pointed out people like Arrington are not news sources.  They have a specific agenda in “reporting” what they do.  Personally I view anything that Michael Arrington or M.G. Siegler write as long-form infomercials.  That doesn’t mean they’re not enjoyable or informative, but I don’t mix them in with the places I go for real news.

    It’s an unfortunate by-product of our litigious society that everything is viewed from the perspective of what harm it has caused, regardless where ultimate responsibility resides.  People who choose to take what the Arringtons of the world say as gospel, despite knowing from whence their proverbial bread is buttered, are harming themselves by not being able to form their own opinions given the facts.


  7. You should start a fund. Take Mike Arrington out and ask what it’s like. I think you would be a fabulous angel investor. You could end up the successor to Ron Conway. 1,000 Startups. 


  8. >My contract with you is that I will tell you when I have conflicts of interest

    Scoble – thanks for being up-front like this. This is perfect! Now if Arrington would do the same…


  9. Dan picked the wrong target with his story, that much is clear.

    The basis for his reporting seemed to be little more to — hey that post I wrote last week on my personal blog got a ton of traction, how can I continue to extend the story. As a reporter, I’m familiar with that instinct. As an editor, I’m also conscious of how important it is to get that sort of thing right, lest you embarrass yourself as he did.

    I do think, however, that he has an interesting point when it comes to this new form of PR (and yes, let’s get down to it, that’s what this is), which is to make influencers investors (or the public face of a firm). This isn’t new — Paul Graham, Fred Wilson, etc. have all been investors who blog about their thoughts, essays littered with plugs and info about their new startups. It makes sense, it’s smart. There is nothing wrong with it.

    What is new about this new form of influencer-turned-investor is that they used to be considered an unbiased (or at least, less conflicted) source. Those conflicts change once the nature of business changes. That’s not to say that it’s wrong or improper, but it does create a different dynamic between the influencer and their audience. 

    Acknowledging conflict doesn’t make it go away and it doesn’t absolve that conflict from mattering. As our jobs change, our responsibilities also change.

    You have always made a commitment to be upfront and transparent with your audience, and I respect that. That doesn’t mean that if you decide to go from evangelist to investor that the relationship you have with your audience won’t change. It most certainly will, it has to. Again, that’s not to say it’s bad, immoral or unethical — but your responsibilities to your job would change and that will have an impact on your relationship with your audience. 

    Still, by trying to “nail” you, Dan missed the mark and ended up making an ass out of himself.


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