If you’ve ever met Bryan Goldberg, a few things about the Bleacher Report co-founder become abundantly clear. He’s confident, funny and smart.
On Tuesday, when he announced his new venture Bustle, those traits were misconstrued. His confidence came across as arrogance; his wit came across as snark. His intelligence was replaced by ignorance for the saturated, women’s market Bustle wants to compete in.
Media and startup pundits came out in droves to bash Bustle and Goldberg. Among them: women in tech advocate Rachel Sklar, digital media executive Elizabeth Spiers, and Jezebel’s Anna Holmes.
Spiers, who helped launch Gawker and The Observer’s BetaBeat, wrote a lengthy open letter to Goldberg titled: “How Not To Launch A Site For Women.” She wrote:
“Goldberg’s announcement/press release began with the dubious assertion — now ‘edited’ after much criticism — that there were no major companies going after the women’s market…He also asserted that he had stumbled upon the heretofore undiscovered fact women have multiple interests…
All of these things drew criticism anyone with an IQ over 80 and enough intelligence to know that the interests of women extend beyond fashion, cosmetics, and celebrities and that this is not novel.”
Even Dave McClure, an investor in Bustle who’s also known to be outspoken, agrees Goldberg handled his launch wrong. “There are ways that you want to go out of the door that aren’t disrespectful to your audience,” he told Inc.
Goldberg says he has a thick-skin from his Bleacher Report days but has admittedly struggled with the recent criticism. He calls the blow back “incredibly painful.”
Today, he’s written a heartfelt apology to all of the people he’s enraged. Titled “Take Two,” his first line sums up the lengthy post. “I messed up,” says Goldberg.
He bullet points his initial post’s biggest mistakes.
- It over-simplified the editorial landscape.
- It failed to highlight the fact that there are a lot of great women’s publications out there.
- It took a tongue-in-cheek approach for part of the fundraise announcement, at one point joking about cosmetics. That was a horrible decision. Especially given how difficult it is for people (and women especially) to raise capital to bring their ideas to life. I put an immense amount of time into getting Bustle off the ground. I owed it to myself, my team, and all entrepreneurs to treat the moment with full seriousness.
- To a lot of people, it came across as pandering. And it doesn’t matter if that wasn’t my intention. That’s how it came across.
Here’s the full apology on PandoDaily.