We Are Better Than This

I’m rarely surprised by the things I read from the tech press any more, but this ongoing Path story has definitely surprised me.

Partly because I’ve never seen a single company take such a staggering hit for doing something that, while wrong, is quite clearly industry practice. If you’ve used a mobile social app that suggested friends to you, it almost certainly uploaded your address book, and almost certainly did it without your permission.

As a user I’m slightly annoyed by this, and I think the apps doing this should be publicly criticized. But I think all of them should, not just one of them.

Normally all of them would be. There are two reasons why only Path is taking the hit.

First, because it’s not easy for tech writers to figure out who’s doing it, so they just criticize the one that everyone knows did it.

That ones obvious. But I was taken aback today when I spoke to a journalist who’d criticized Path. I asked why he just attacked them, not the others. His answers – “CEO Dave Morin is really arrogant and touchy.”

I said “wow, that’s a quote for my next story,” and he freaked out. I think just then he realized how awful it was.

The press is doing a good thing by publicly airing this. Apple may change its policies, and the apps are certainly falling into line.

But to focus on one company because you think the CEO is arrogant (which probably just means you’re upset that he’s well known and wealthy), is atrocious. And to just focus on one company because you don’t want to take an hour and download the top 50 social apps to discover that all of them are also doing this is pathetic.

On a related note, I just read one of the most vicious personal attacks I’ve seen on me, and I’ve seen a lot over the years. Dan Lyons suggests that my defending Path on this issue means, because we’re an investor, that we’re a paid apologist (and much worse). He calls my partner MG Siegler “a mean-spirited, egomaniacal buffoon who is not very bright.” But he never talks about is past issues with MG, or how thoroughly MG has discredited him.

Dan Lyons is a friend – or was. I spent a half hour on the phone with him a couple of weeks ago at his request to explain how venture funds work because he didn’t really understand it. He asked to work at TechCrunch multiple times over the years, too, although his salary requirements made that impossible.

The only reason he would write such hateful stuff is because he can’t help it. Journalists freak out when the truth is told about their industry. What MG wrote in the second half of his post yesterday was completely correct – the industry is a mess and unable to really change.

Most journalists don’t like other journalists much, but when the group is attacked as a whole they galvanize quickly. Antibodies kick in and they just can’t help themselves. They immediately move to the most disheartening personal attacks you can imagine. I don’t even think they realize quite why they’re doing it.

Lyons paints our actions in the worst possible light.

He doesn’t point out that Path was less than thrilled by my post telling them they needed to delete the data.

He doesn’t point out that I’ve repeatedly defended Facebook over privacy slipups, and I’m not an investor.

Or that I defend companies like Zynga (also not a shareholder) when I see the press massing to attack them unfairly.

Or that I was merciless in attacking the gaming industry when I saw how they were scamming users.

Or that I criticized Airbnb (where we are investors) heavily for the trashed apartment issue last summer.

Or that I got in a very public fight with Paul Graham over the Airbnb issue, and Paul Graham may be the single most important person not to piss off when you’re an angel investor.

He says that our insanely over subscribed venture fund is just a joke. He says our work at TechCrunch over the last six years is a joke. He says MG is a joke. He drags Pando Daily and Techmeme into the fight and trashes them too.

I’m surprised that my mother wasn’t mentioned, frankly.

If I was the person that Dan Lyons says I am, I would be a psychopath. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t even consider the fact that I’m simply speaking my mind. That I’ve always just spoken my mind. That I’ve never been the type of person to not speak my mind. There’s no way to look at my record and think that I am somehow a “hack for hire.”

Further, if he had any real sense of how Silicon Valley works he’d understand that, if the story he paints about Path were true, most of it’s employees would have walked out in disgust and be talking to the press. It just isn’t true. This startup scene is far less about money than tech press thinks it is. Startups are often careless, or too rushed, or just dumb. But I rarely see truly evil behavior from them.

We cannot, as a community, be ok with people being utterly trashed as individuals just because they say something counter to the prevailing wisdom that day. But in fact we celebrate it. Some of us can take it and carry on (I’ve lasted this long, I can handle it, and MG is a lot tougher than me). But it’s too heavy a cost for doing nothing more than writing what you think.

I think Path is being treated vastly unfairly. I think Apple is being given a pass and other startups and being protected. I may be right, I may be wrong. But I should be able to say that without being accused of being not just unethical but basically worthless as a human being. We all deserve that.

As a final note, I’m not trying to play the victim card here. I not particularly emotional over Dan’s article, which is part of the problem. It’s just another day in the tech world. I think we can do a lot better.

ps – I know that I have at times in the past written things that I regretted later. I remember this post, way back, about Blaine Cook. A few months later I was talking to someone and they said that I had lowered myself by mocking him. I agreed and I made a conscious decision to try not to do that again. The funny thing is I haven’t read that post in quite a while. The way I remembered it I was really out of line. But really, that post wouldn’t even raise eyebrows today. Times sure have changed.

Update: MG’s post on this. I’m starting to understand that this was all just some sad attack based on Lyons’ past issues with MG.

Update: See Foursquare Also Trying To Kill Egyptian Dissidents.

80 thoughts on “We Are Better Than This

  1. Michael La Rosa says:

    Why is there not an Arrington movie? TechCrunch drama…CNN painted you out to be a racist…tons of public bashes…countless other stuff…

    Now this. Haha, I love it.

  2. You do know that some people hold no bars when it comes to bringing attention onto themselves. Dan Lyons is doing just that. Sad to see happen, yes. Such is life.

  3. Desi Munda says:

    Classy response Mike. I hate to join any camps, you make a good point and sound honest. But Dan has a valid point too, each of you have a counter argument for things that the other did not mention.

    You took the high road and I am sure MG will take care of writing a book in response to this.

    Oh a typo – “He says our my work at TechCrunch…”

  4. So if the courts only take down one criminal at a time that would be “unfair” too?

  5. Rahul Sood says:

    I’ve crossed paths with David in the past, he is anything but arrogant. He is a super nice guy, very approachable, and super smart. I think you’re right about the potential envy that comes out when someone becomes successful. For whatever reason people want to see them fail, it’s too bad. We all make mistakes, it’s how we deal with the solution that separates us. I think Path responded very quickly in fact.

    • Ian Bell says:

      But it wasn’t a mistake that Path made. It takes development and time to even build in that functionality. It was planned.

      What was not planned by Path was the attention they received.

      Shame on them for trying to think they could get away with this in the first place.

  6. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
    ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    Sorry to hear you guys are getting dragged into this Mike & MG. It’s a disappointing time for tech journalists — reducing intellectual conversation to name calling.

    What ever happend to dignified responses – disagreeing amicably?

  7. Pat (Patricia) Drennan Dixon PatDDixon says:

    Dude, you write when you feel the passion that motivates you. No regrets. The same holds true beyond Path, such as the growing fascination with Pinterest. It was engaged by 20 somethings heavily, but when the tech press revealed their traffic, it became a catch up to the mainstream techies. However, they are emailing your contacts without permissions. It’s all a game of who can grow, how they grow and what is acceptable to a larger margin than what is not ok for a trimmer margin. Playing it.
    Speak your mind and own it. Right, wrong or indifferent, it’s yours. The public doesn’t decide what moves you, You Do.

  8. No, but seriously, who the fuck is Dan Lyons?

  9. Shan says:

    If Paul Graham thinks he is special because of some xyz thing he created or incubated then he needs to be shown his place in the Tech world..

  10. Well, to cut through all this — yes, they sure do all do this and it’s not the function of just one CEO being arrogant, it’s a basic default geeky arrogance that demands “opt-out” instead of “opt-in” on every one of these new things. They claim that unless they force it like that, they can’t populate their ap or whatever. But so what? Why are we here to do that for you?

    Remember when Facebook seemed to be suddenly revealing everybody’s cell phone numbers and the geeks told us that was our fault for loading it in or acquiescing to loading it? But I definitely didn’t do that and yet I saw people’s numbers.

    Every time I go on LinkedIn, it’s demanding that I put in my email address and password to try to hose all my email connections into LI. No thanks. I never go for this.

    They all do it! And we don’t like it because we’re not Scoble. However, we can say “no” most of the time. I mean, maybe it adds the address book without your permission, but you aren’t forced to add the people then as friends or contact them, right? So, put it in perspective.

  11. ps.bottom line… don’t bring my mother into this. Tell em.

  12. I agree completely with your view of the heat Path has taken, however if this pushes the larger issue of access to the data in one’s contacts on their phone then perhaps that is just the price of being the guys that were finally targeted. I think you pushing Path to “nuke” the data shows your heart is in the right place. I really hope the industry as a whole gets down to some fundamental understanding of the differences between public and private information because it is really fundamental right and wrong and I don’t care what any developer says, my contacts are mine, particularly when I may put specific confidential information in there.

  13. keith1 says:

    I agree that this is a pile-on and that others are getting off scott free. I also don’t think Path was doing anything that Facebook hasn’t been doing for a years, and Google for months (running your address book and mining it). I also think that, as an investor, its brave of you to point that out having suggested a solution earlier. So all round, good piece.

    • “Partly because I’ve never seen a single company take such a staggering hit for doing something that, while wrong, is quite clearly industry practice. ”

      Uh… how about Apple and Foxconn? Apple’s not the only company using Foxconn.

  14. What’s funny about this is there’s such a disconnect between a software engineer looking at a device’s capability and/or platform and thinking ‘hey, we can use this to recommend friends to our users (implicitly believing in building and growing)!’ and the admirable trait of tech journalists who cry foul on behalf of user privacy…The former’s rooted in survival by growth. The other’s rooted in the need for protection…and a story.

    It’s weird how that became a platform for a level of ‘academic honesty’ and ‘professionalism’. I weirdly despise this response though. Whenever someone writes, calling for ‘better behavior as a community’ on such a thing like the internet it’s like acknowledging your friend’s badly behaving child who just wants attention. You just don’t do it man.

    Do you feel guilty about the story though? That’s caused all the raucous?

  15. Michael – How is it that “– the industry is a mess and unable to really change.”, but that “I think we can do a lot better.”? Is it possible to play the defeatist and take the high road simultaneously?

    Let me rephrase the latter – I’m not positive that the ‘high road’ here is an apt description for flying the flag of ‘we can do better’. I’m pretty sure that despite some personal jabs that Dan didn’t show much restraint with, one reason his piece has hit the nerve of provocateur, is that MG’s critique of the industry doesn’t hold up to scrutiny (which I think Dan does a decent job of summarizing, minus some of the throwing stars).

    It also seems you should be less surprised by a continued narrative that running a fund and running a tech blog has inherent conflict of interests (which again I think Dan hits on well).

    Other than that, I will share with you that I know that you can do better, and have on many occasions.

    • Michael Arrington says:

      Clarification – I think the tech press is a mess and can’t be fixed. I think the community can do better.

    • Michael Arrington says:

      “continued narrative that running a fund and running a tech blog has inherent conflict of interests” – this isn’t a tech blog. It’s my blog. It’s amazing to me that intelligent people, after witnessing me being dismissed from techcrunch, still think that it’s appropriate to tell me that I can’t write things that I think on a blog. And give Lyons a pass for doing a hit job based on an old vendetta without even disclosing it.

      And MG’s critique of the industry is dead on.

      • Hey fair enough – I didn’t mean to say you shouldn’t be able to express yourself here. I think where we disagree is that I don’t think you should be so surprised that some funders would throw money to a prominent media’s voice regardless of verbage or sale of the investments, just based on a greased hand strategy, and that no matter how transparent, is always going to be used against any defense you have. Is it fair? Maybe. Do you have a track record of being a paid apologist? I don’t see it. But should you be surprised that it would be thrown back at you with this Path story? I don’t see why you would be.

  16. zato says:

    “The only reason he would write such hateful stuff is because he can’t help it.”

    I don’t think that’s the only reason. Lyons is a Microsoftie. His real target, in the attack article you write about above, is MG Seigler. He is using you to discredit MG. Microsoft has, and will continue, to work against anyone in Media who is pro-Apple. Now Gruber and MG Seigler are the targets.

  17. Ray Cromwell says:

    I think MG discredited himself with his “Why We Gloat” post. Add to it the crazy ‘Why I hate Android’ with it’s inverse logic (open source = imprisonment, Google failure to blow up carriers = bad, Apple’s failure — given all of MG’s anti-AT&T rants of late — = ignored)

    He is far too emotionally invested in Apple to be a credible analyst.

    And frankly, Path, with the amount of money it got, should have known better, period, when there are well trodden, well known, technical solutions.

    You can’t really high the fact that you’re being apologetic or biased. You just went on TechCrunch and posted a criticism of Just.Me in defense of Path. How many non-crunchfund non-friends get that level of effort?

    • Michael Arrington says:

      “You can’t really high the fact that you’re being apologetic or biased. You just went on TechCrunch and posted a criticism of Just.Me in defense of Path. How many non-crunchfund non-friends get that level of effort?”

      We’re investors in Just.me, and the founder, Keith Teare, is a long time friend and the cofounder of TechCrunch. Why is it so hard to understand that I say what I think, regardless of friendships and investments?

      • Ray Cromwell says:

        Well, I will give you that Mike, and the fact that you are a bit more mature than MG and able to keep your powder dry and use it when it’s needed. Lyons went over the top, and can be somewhat of an ass himself, but my opinion is, some of this blow back is not so much about you, or Path, but about perceptions of bias, and some of the trolling MG does on his own blog.

        I mean, it’s possible for someone to blog about companies they invest in and pimp them, it’s understandable. I’m along time fan of Bill Gurly/Above the Crowd, and he pimps his portfolio companies in that series non-stop, but it’s clear that Bill often has something interesting to say, and more importantly, he doesn’t come off as an someone full of himself.

        I think since you’ve left TechCrunch, your blogging has actually gotten a lot better here, but since MG left TechCrunch, his personal blogging on parislemon has gotten far worse, almost cartoonish. And I suspect that, is ultimately why Lyons went so over the top in his attack.

      • Ray Cromwell says:

        BTW, huge props to you for calling out Pincus and Zynga at the height of their evil spamming and scamming.

  18. Ray Cromwell says:

    BTW, there is ample evidence of evil from startups. Remember Zynga scam-ville? Remember various startups during the heyday of Facebook apps scraping people’s networks and spamming people to bootstrap a critical mass? Hell, Marc Pincus practically advised entrepreneurs to do this that: do whatever is necessary to get user base, and then turn around later, and ask for forgiveness.

    Maybe Path isn’t evil, but the other side is one of a company that either failed to hire the right engineers, or rushed a product with known bad privacy behavior and hoping no one would complain.

  19. How come heads don’t roll in the valley even for the gravest of offenses?

    If someone called me a scam, I’d take offense to that.

    No, I would demand a congressional testimony.

    Like the Valerie Plame affair. If Novak did it, I would demand his head on a pike !

    Arrington should sue Dan if he thinks this is in effect besmirching his character and good name.

    But something tells me Mike would not do that.

    Why not Mike? Is this how the valley rolls?

  20. Brian says:

    does “we are better than that” include deleting critical comments? It is hard to take the high road and censor critical commentary at the same time. This of course, does have the affect of skewing public perception of the article. In reality I think Arrington and crew are so far away from what would be held as basic journalistic standards in any other medium that it probably isn’t even worth mentioning. But hey, what the Hell. We’ll look back on this era with shock and disgust in a few years when the swamp is finally drained – but for right now let’s enjoy the “wild west” of tech “journalism” for all of its delicious lack of integrity and ethics!

  21. works42 says:

    I can’t help but imagine the kids from Rug rats, with pocket protectors and plastic glasses filled with vodka throwing toy cars at each other when I read these type of posts..

    Self important men doing self important things..

  22. Charlie says:

    I don’t buy your story that Path was “less than thrilled” with your post suggesting that they delete all contact data. Your post was basically what any good PR team would do for their client in this type of public relations crisis. Which is to try to get ahead of the story by publicly announcing some actionable items to rectify the situation.

    And just because Path may have been singled out doesn’t make it unfair or give them a pass. As a niche product mostly being used by the tech elite, it’s always going to be singled out first.

  23. alex says:

    [quote]But I was taken aback today when I spoke to a journalist who’d criticized Path. I asked why he just attacked them, not the others. His answers – “CEO Dave Morin is really arrogant and touchy.”

    I said “wow, that’s a quote for my next story,” and he freaked out. I think just then he realized how awful it was.[/quote]

    Name some names. Who is the quoted journalist? It’s easy to make up a nice blurb that sounds good and aligns conveniently with your piece. Why don’t you be the first to demonstrate a little mettle, and show us a little accountability? That’d go a lot farther than this mudslinging spectacle that is frankly, a little embarrassing to watch.

  24. Mike, I am really enjoying the perspective and growth in many things that you continue to share. Simply. Thanks.

  25. If MG just came out and said, “Path did something kinda stupid, but they truly weren’t being malicious and they nuked the data. They deserve another shot.” And ended it there, I don’t think there would have been as much backlash.

    But MG was acting like a kid who got caught stealing and was trying to weasel his way out of trouble: “They were just using the API they were given!” “Everyone does it.” “They used SSL!”

    If anyone else tried to defend another startup in a similar situation, MG would call bullshit immediately, as we’ve come to expect. It’s a bit hypocritical, if you ask me.

  26. Kevin says:

    Being right (Path screwed up, as others have and are), does not make you (Dan) right. A professional response. If we cannot discuss, and yes disagree, in a more civilized manner, what does that say about us?

  27. Clearly, Google had it all wrong. It should have been -1.

  28. Hi Mike,

    Very good post.

    I completely agree with you that the personal attacks and attitude inherent to tech journalism really clouds the real stories. But there’s more going on here than ‘journalists don’t like it when we speak the truth or push boundaries.’ Here are the important stories as I see them:

    – Nick Bilton makes a great point that there are serious ramifications to the ubiquity with which mobile apps/startups are playing with personal privacy, data and transparency. Ramifications that extend beyond ‘oh well they’ll use that data to market to me.’
    – You have repeatedly made a great point that people need to pay more attention to Apple and why they allow access without consent to that data in the first place (and whether they need to rethink their API strategy in general). But that doesn’t mean that just because everybody’s doing it Path should get a pass. The industry needs best practices for data and privacy.
    – You made another great point that it is currently in the best interest of any startup facing a PR situation to apologize immediately and thoroughly to avoid mob pile up. Not much else to this one, just sayin’.
    – Whatever Dave Lyons personal issues with MG, and despite the nasty attacks he made, his post raises some valid concerns. The CrunchFund/Pando Daily startups funding the media that covers them is new territory, and creates a lot of interesting (and formal) relationships between interested parties that should be observed objectively for the health of the industry. Not to say you or the CrunchFund or Sarah Lacy is doing anything wrong, but it is certainly new and potentially hazardous if handled improperly.
    – On a slightly less important note, the second half of MG’s post dealing with tech journalism rings hollow, mostly because he is the poster boy of that type of writing. He just realized now that there’s a difference between what companies know internally and what tech journos report? Really? I think this RWW editorial is the final word on the matter: http://t.co/Jg2YKbgP

    There, I just cleaned up the Internet. Let’s all get back to the Whitney tribute videos on YouTube.


    • zato says:

      “You have repeatedly made a great point that people need to pay more attention to Apple and why they allow access without consent to that data”

      They DON’T. The SDK is full of warnings about what you can and cannot do with people’s data. App Store Review Guidelines state, unequivocally, that any developer who collects private data without the users permission will be banned. What Path did was in clear violation of the rules. Blame the review process for not catching it.

      “The CrunchFund/Pando Daily startups funding the media that covers them is new territory, and creates a lot of interesting (and formal) relationships between interested parties that should be observed objectively for the health of the industry.”

      This is REALLY what it’s all about. The perception/FEAR on the part of Microsoftie/Apple haters that the world has moved on without them. That THEY and those they support in the industry, and the media that reports on it, NO LONGER HOLD THE POWER. That the world is no longer ruled by Microsoft.

  29. Brandon Hall says:

    Apple is totally at fault here and getting a pass like you mentioned in the article. They get pass after pass from the press and this is another example. A recent bad release of Lion or the battery debacle from iOS 5.0 come to mind. If you allow devs to download the contact list, without an extra permission, naturally they’ll do it.

    As a dev, why wouldn’t you, it’s more data to grow your user base. It’s why Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.. all have this explicit permission built into their OAuth schemes. Why doesn’t Apple? It’s standard practice these days.

  30. Scott Trotter says:

    So, Mr. Arrington, you used to fancy yourself a journalist. Do you personally know of any other apps which are stealing the private data off of my phone (or any other device) and uploading it to their servers without my permission? If so, what are they? I plan to delete every single one that I find out about, and recommend that my friends, relatives and associates do the same. If data theft has become “standard industry practice,” then it’s time for some people to lose their jobs.

    • Michael Arrington says:

      “you used to fancy yourself a journalist” – fuck no. I hold myself to much higher standards.

      • kjackson says:

        Maybe you should document exactly what your standards are. This is why you are susceptible to criticism because you are an influential tech blogger that invests in companies. It’s only obvious that people will think that you are going to protect your own interests. If you document your standards, maybe that will make it easier to understand you.

        • keith1 says:

          Mike’s standards are pretty clear. He has opinions and he says them. He initially reprimanded Path (in which he is an investor) and said they should delete all the data downloaded. He then applauded Path when they responded, yet continued to state that it was an error to do it. Since then he has attempted to contextualize and explain that Path is taking the rap for everybody in a practice they were not alone in pursuing. Now he’s having a go at me on TechCrunch in the comments (and he is an investor in my company; as well as a friend).

          You can disagree with Mike, or cheer him on, but you can’t knock Mike for lack of transparency over his standards. What you see is what you get. And whether you are a friend or an enemy if he agrees with you he’ll say, and if he disagrees he’ll say that too.

      • Scott Trotter says:

        Touche. But I notice that you didn’t answer the question.

  31. Dave Winer says:

    Which of the apps on my iPhone is transmitting everything I think is private and to whom are they transmitting it?

    • dan tynan says:

      yes, I was wondering the same thing. give us a list of all these apps that do what Path tried to do, please. that would offer some real value instead of all this pointless babble.


  32. Joe Schmoe says:

    ha ha, taking a staggering hit for doing something that is industry practice… like a startup running the same scammy offers as top internet sites like orbitz??? you guys are finally getting called out for being the hypocrites you are. brilliant.

  33. Doug Holmes says:

    The only problem I have with your writing, Michael, is that you seem confused about when and when not to use an apostrophe. It should be “That one’s obvious” not “That ones obvious”, and “most of its employees” rather than “most of it’s employees”.

  34. Jeff says:

    I think we all know that Dan Lyons is trying to combat his growing irrelevancy. With every point upwards that Apple’s share price climbs, Lyons becomes less and less relevant. He had his shtick when Steve Jobs was – unbeknownst to Dan, apparently – turning Apple into one of the the most successful companies on the planet.

    Jobs behavior was strange, sure. And Dan capitalized on it in an uncanny way. But that was a long time ago. Apple has matured. Jobs has matured. The world has, for the most part, moved on from being concerned with Jobs ego – rather content to marvel at his enormous successes.

    With Jobs unfortunate passing, and the subsequent rise of Apple to astronomical new heights, Lyons looks back at the Valley and realizes that he is out of touch. His entire career is built off of trashing, mocking, and impersonating, someone who should essentially be considered a grandfather of the Valley (junior only to Hewlett, Packard, Xerox, and a few others). Lyons doesn’t know anyone anymore. He doesn’t know what’s going on.

    Who is this Zuckerberg kid? I better check Yahoo…

    And so, he grasps at straws and becomes vitriolic because the Valley has all but shut him out. Dan is irrelevant. No one cares anymore. Everyone has already read Steve Jobs’ actual biography, and even then the only people who really care about Jobs’ often erratic behavior are Android fanboys (who are between the ages of 10-15). Dan doesn’t know any of the savvy young entrepreneurs. He doesn’t understand the culture. He’s just not a part of it, as much as it pains him.

    We really shouldn’t be surprised that Dan would attack the new publications (and the old ones) for what he perceives as a conflict of interest. He doesn’t have much evidence on his side. So he shouts. And shouts. And shouts into the very echo chamber he decries, to guarantee a few clicks, mostly from people who probably don’t know who he is. The irony is that Dan’s entire attack post is essentially describing himself. It reads like a man who is embittered because the world has left him behind.

    I imagine an old man sitting out side of a bank complaining about loud music and how things were “back in my day.” Reminiscing about how he had to walk in the snow and other such fits of nostalgia.

    Sorry, Dan. You’re irrelevant.

    Mike, you have undoubtedly had your moments, but I feel like this attack by Dan is truly unfair. Dan is essentially arguing that money corrupts absolutely (which is funny considering he makes money by selling a book of half-truths about Apple, and, unsurprisingly, dedicates his days to trashing Apple on his blog). I don’t think that is fair.

    You’ve demonstrated that CrunchFund can be run fairly, and you’ve shown that you are willing to criticize your partners, often at your own peril. And for that I commend you.

    In short, Mike, don’t worry about guys like Dan Lyons. People who watch the world pass them by often become desperate, grasping at whatever they can to keep from being blown away with the winds of change.

    And that’s what his attack article reads as: desperately clinging to whatever he can reach.

    Sorry Dan. It’s just too late for you. You’re irrelevant.

    • zato says:

      “Sorry Dan. It’s just too late for you. You’re irrelevant.”

      If Dan is irrelevant, it’s because Microsoft is irrelevant, and we know that is not true. Dan IS Microsoft. He is part of a very large, highly coordinated propaganda operation that will spend One Billion dollars to preserve .1% of world market share. That will buy anything and anyone to protect its empire.

  35. Jason says:

    I think this is all related to MG and you just got caught in the crossfire.

    The problem is that Dan has correctly pointed out the fact MG thinks he takes a high ground in tech reporting and is a super smart guy in the tech world – while being guilty of the very same things that he accuses other tech bloggers of

  36. ziggy says:

    So says Mike, the conflict-of-interest poster child, as he tries to defend his investments again.

    It’s hard to see clearly in a cesspool of scum.

  37. ajf says:

    “Partly because I’ve never seen a single company take such a staggering hit for doing something that, while wrong, is quite clearly industry practice.”

    Bullshit. It is not “clearly industry practice” to copy private user data to your server in violation of your own privacy policy. And, it is quite clearly a violation of Apple’s rules (as I, and others have noted before: https://uncrunched.com/2012/02/12/im-so-so-sorry-heres-my-belly-now-please-move-on/#comment-5828).

    It’s certainly important for Apple to step up and do something about this issue. First, they should enforce their policy and pull Path’s iOS license, and any other developer’s who is doing the same thing. Then, they should harden the API with a modal permission (as I noted in my prior comment.) However, these repeated attempts by Path’s investors and friends to claim that the fault is Apple’s are really quite obscene. Amoral behavior is not mitigated by another parties failure to stop it…

  38. Eric Fader says:

    I would like to see more analysis along the lines of Steven Carpenter when he guest blogged for Techcrunch in the “Teardown series”.

    Mike can you bring him back, maybe to uncrunched?

  39. o.a shade says:

    Movie Title?
    The Crunch Network:
    You Don’t Get to 12 million Readers Without Making A FEW Enemies

  40. E says:

    Well, all drama aside—you certainly sound like the most mature in this battle. MG is hot-headed, Dan is silver-tongued, and you’re thoughtful. Although you have your own opinions and assertions, you do a brilliant job at conveying a message that is more than just huffs and puffs. Kudos!

  41. Kreager says:

    “We cannot, as a community, be ok with people being utterly trashed as individuals just because they say something counter to the prevailing wisdom that day.” -Mike Arrington

    But Mike, That’s exactly what you and MG did to Nick Bilton. Exactly. Which, lest we forget, is how all this started. The fact that you covered the handles of your blades in velvet and silk doesn’t change the fact that you both trashed, no, scratch that, ganged up on Bilton. In fact, since I follow Bilton’s work and know that he just moved to the Valley, I read your and MG’s attacks on his credibility as an attempt to effectively ostracize him from the Valley tech community, in very public fashion. The fact that you and MG now act as though you are the aggrieved parties, when in fact Lyons was mainly responding to “your” attack is proof that much of what he says may be true–all you guys do is spin, spin, spin. You speak like you’re truth tellers, but you don’t acknowledge your own bad marks.

  42. Rayhan says:

    Was it fair that Lehman Brothers went bust when what they were doing was ‘industry practice’?

  43. reminds me of scamville Mike. i learned a lot from it. you taught it to me. i suspect you’ll learn a lot from this.

  44. Karine says:

    I am reading this post, and some of the comments, from the other side of the Atlantic ocean.
    It reminds me of our sandbox battles at kindergarten. Little ego against little ego.
    Aren’t there any other topics for smart people like you to talk about publicly these days ?
    And keep private little battles to yourselves ?

  45. Scott Yates says:

    Michael, you’ve been calling BS on the press for way longer than you give yourself credit for. I remember how you nailed it on the LifeLock story nearly five years ago:


    I praised you for that, and the journalist accused acted just the way you describe:


    They told me in journalism school that the only thing they promise you in the career is long hours, low pay, and a good obituary when you die. They should add to that the fact that if you are attacked you will have the rest of the media backing you up to attack the attacker, no matter how spot-on his criticisms might be.

  46. m0r1arty says:

    [quote]I not particularly emotional[/quote]

    Too soon for a grammar joke?

  47. Dan X says:

    As Tonto said, what you mean “We”, kemosabe?

    After the pit bull story, Arrington looks like a mighty black pot in this little brouhaha. Mike’s easier to take than partner in crime MG Siegler, though, who’s pumping out volumes about how he’s the smartest guy in the world and everybody else is stupid in his personal blog where no response are allowed. Then he gets to post about the “overwhelming support” he’s getting.

  48. Brian says:

    ““you used to fancy yourself a journalist” – fuck no. I hold myself to much higher standards.” – Mike Arrington

    this might be the proverbial “Emperor has no clothes” moment. One can believe anything with the power of self-delusion.

  49. tundey says:

    Some things are inevitable…like the Sun rising and setting every day. Like the fact that selling your company to AOL means certain death. That when you get in bed with people you are supposed to cover objectively, your motives will *ALWAYS* be questioned (fairly or unfairly). It’s the reason people find lobbying to be equal to “influence peddling”. So while you can speak to your own intents when you take money from VCs, you don’t know what their intents are. You may think “their money won’t influence me” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t planning to cash in their chips for (positive) coverage at some point.

    So when Path is accused of uploading user data to their servers, it doesn’t look good when you, an investor/blogger, are the first to come to their defense. It doesn’t look good when you say “it’s slightly bad but everyone does it”….that just sounds like you are making excuses for a company in which you have financial interests. It’s the same reason govt employees (and their direct families) at regulatory agencies are not allowed to invest in companies their agencies regulate. It just doesn’t look good and there’s too much room for influence peddling (didn’t you once catch an intern at TC extorting companies for coverage in TC?).

  50. Isn’t this just a “tipping point” situation?

    Yes, companies have done this before. Yes they have to intentionally write the code; it isn’t a mistake.

    But suddenly the hot new company with the well known CEO does it and the dam bursts and we’re all over it. Hey, it makes a good story and jacks up page views right?

  51. John Kitchen says:

    “Why is it so hard to understand that I say what I think, regardless of friendships and investments?”

    Mike, back in the day you were merciless in criticizing Pulse for doing less than Path has recently done.

    It’s hard to believe there’s no bias in your coverage of Path.

  52. The best thing: was MG admitting he didn’t really know shit about most of the stuff he wrote about – he chased clicks, admitted it, and was correct to point out that’s what everyone else was doing.

    What he should do is actually APOLOGIZE where he was wrong, pull out a bunch of old examples of what he wrote and EXPLAIN what all he didn’t understand – those would be some cool thought pieces – that truly prove his thesis.

    The worst thing: not ALSO openly embracing the trade off made in the minds of Crunchfund investors…. some VC put money in because they think you or MG will be swayed by it – it is a deeply ingrained human fact.

    Reciprocity is a key bit of influence (Cialdini), and whether or not you are scumbags is not the point, the point is other people can BANK on reciprocity affecting your sentence structure, your word choice, shadings of descriptions – and they can EXPECT it knowing the whole time you will insist it never happens (with counter example links and all).

    It’d be smart analysis to admit it, but it wouldn’t make them feel good – which violates the reciprocity.

    Last thing: it would be interesting to get Gabe to go on record if he over-rides the math to hand select stories as the chosen top from the blog herd on the press release.

  53. David Wo says:

    It’s sad when the blogger (a.k.a. “journalist”) becomes the story.

    TechCrunch bloggers, past and present, seem to think being the story is part of the gig. There was a time they would have been embarrassed, now no one blinks.

  54. jrock says:

    Other than the silly hissy fit with Lyons, I have to disagree with you Mike concerning the privacy issues with Path. Tech journalists aren’t going to break out packet sniffers to determine if an app uploads personal data without permission. Path was exposed and journalists are naturally going to go after the story.

    Anyone with a modicum of development experience knows that the choices Path made were deliberate. There were meetings and discussions and emails about it. Just because other companies are doing it doesn’t excuse the actions of Path. A hasty apology or shifting blame doesn’t exonerate a company from borderline unethical behavior. And in my opinion, if the bad press causes other companies to pause when making this kind of decision, the app space is better off.

  55. George says:

    Reblogged this on WPTrend.

  56. zara says:

    Looks an attempt at a tabloid sting to me, ask paul carr, he’s a brit journo!

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