The Uncrunching of Techcrunch. It's been one of the most entertaining saga's on the web recently, in a reality TV kind of way. But in the process, a discourse has emerged that seems to say "nothing matters except Influence". I don't buy that.
Techcrunch = awesome creation, unique voice, machine for releasing breaking stories. Great entrepreneurial achievement. No question. Fun, too.
M.O. = don't get into a brawl with an entrepreneur who is not afraid of taking the fight back to you. Arrington method = be agressive, wash your linen in public, go for full disclosure all the time. Set the tone as follows: "everyone is in it for #themoney #theglory #thewhateverrocksyourboat, we are the only ones being honest about our biases".
Want to take the fight back to Arrington ? Think twice. It's like trying to fight Eminem in the closing duel of 8 mile: "Once I have made endless fun of myself and shot my "image", I emerge strong and I can take anyone on. Nothing can touch me". Guess what, it works. I would not take on Arrington in a pub brawl, or at poker for that matter. I would break before he does.
Now let's take it to the next level: a blogging VC is the same as a VC blogger. Easy. See, everyone is doing it. Guilty as charged.
Except that, no, it does not quite work that way. Look carefully at VC's who blog: the M.O. is to talk about the business of funding innovation, the companies that they back, the ecosystem issues that they face. What they are (normally) not in the business of doing is: breaking stories, leveraging confidential information, publishing the unpublished.
Believe me, it's tempting. But would it be right for me to turn the unique insights I just received on, say, Apple's HTML 5 strategy into a blog post ? I don't think so.
Fred Wilson is not Techcrunch. Yes, he is careful about his messaging and he promotes his companies (elegantly as it turns out). He is clearly smarter than me since he elegantly avoided giving a clear opinion on this whole mess. Sure, he will occasionally leverage (generic) insights gained from startups to express a new investment thesis. But he's NOT in the business of breaking stories. Neither is Brad Feld, or Mark Suster.
As VC's we operate almost solely on confidential information. It's at the heart of what we do. I am not sure how you can be a VC and at the same time be in a business that trades on breaking news. I don't understand how you can split your brain in two that way.
Crunchfund starts from a great vantage point. Arrington is a machine for contacts, insights, networking and an accomplished entrepreneur. In my mind, all the debates about whether Techcrunch had editorial independence missed the point. Of course it has ! It was built on disclosing EVERYTHING including its own issues, complete with gory details. That's what makes it so hard to beat for anyone who refuses to play the same game of judo.
However, I don't understand how you can say with a straight face that you are going to run a fund and publish on Techcrunch. Every startup you meet comes with unique and confidential insights about themselves and the market they operate in, often the results of years of work. It's just not part of my job description to go leverage that information in a journalistic endeavour.
Not everything is equivalent. Conflicts exist, and they need to be managed (carefully). I must be hitting old age. I just don't get it.
UPDATE and counterpoint from the ever excellent Scott Rafer
Sorry, Fred. I'm pretty sure that I'm a year or two older than you are, but you may want to hit those Omega 3s or whatever harder. Just because FredW, Albert, JohnB, Bijan, Bryce, you, and a few others set a particular style for VC Blogging 1.0, that doesn't mean the craft won't evolve. @arrington has unusual resources and he's going to use them. If pitching him (though Lumatic is too late stage for them at this point), I'd expect him to ask if parts were bloggable. I'd go in knowing which was which and expecting to be pretty darn liberal in the calculus. Helping him with his audience would help me with my business and be part of his funding process.