Photo: Brian Caldwell
Silicon Valley insiders are giving former TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler grief for a post he wrote about Facebook’s $1 billion Instagram acquisition for his personal blog today.And truly, the post is a touch nauseating.
MG starts the post by saying he knew about Instagram way back before the rest of us did, and that he thought it was cooler before everyone else.
Of yesterday’s news, he writes:
In some ways, this is bittersweet. Instagram is a not insignificant part of why I got into the venture capital side of things. I knew that I had a talent for picking companies that would do well, but Instagram was the first that I knew I had nailed from the get-go. By the time they had done their seed and A rounds, Kevin and I were talking about the potential of me doing this: finding the next Instagram. His thoughts helped steer me to where I am now.
I’ve talked before about the one company I wish I could have invested in (realistically) early on: Square. Instagram would be a close second. And today’s outcome proves the thought.
But ignore all that.
Such I-found-it-first grandiosity is common among tech reporters who forget that they go bananas for many, many startups each year – many of which are never to be heard from again.
The real problem with Siegler’s post is how he starts it.
A few years ago, I got a frantic email one evening. It was from a young entrepreneur named Kevin Systrom. “Hey MG, I saw you signed up for Burbn…” is how it started. He was freaked out. Someone had told me about the service and the sign up wasn’t locked down. But Kevin did not want me to write about his fledgling idea just yet. We hopped on the phone. Of course I agreed to hold the story. I’d write when he was ready.
We broke a lot of news at TechCrunch over the years. But I was always happy about the way we treated entrepreneurs with their delicate plans. Big companies are different — they can take hits. Outing young companies before they’re ready: not cool. When in doubt, defer to the entrepreneur. Michael taught us well.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is NOT that Siegler decided to hold a story after talking to a source. There are tons of good reasons to do that.
The issue is that Siegler had a bad reason to do that.
“When in doubt, defer to the entrepreneur.”
To be clear: At Business Insider, we do not view it as our responsibility to “defer to the entrepreneur.”
Now here’s the funny/sad/scary thing.
You and I know this is obvious – that business journalists ought not to “defer” to the business people they write about – but in some corners of the startup industry, this post, the one you are reading right now, is going to be viewed as heresy, as an affront to a strange breed of idealism.