Fred Baron, a Texas trial lawyer, died last Thursday of cancer. Fellow litigators remember him for the "toxic tort" lawsuits he filed; politicos know him as the man who relocated former presidential candidate John Edwards's mistress, Rielle Hunter, to Santa Barbara, in the hopes of keeping her away from the public eye. But the Internet-obsessed crowd will inevitably think of him as the man who inflicted chesty-news videoblog Rocketboom on them; first, by fathering videoblogger Andrew Baron, then giving his son the funding for his project. Oh, and then suing him over it. Despite that, Andrew sought to have his father given an experimental cancer treatment. Blood is thicker than blogs.
Andrew Baron, the founder of videoblog Rocketboom, has reported that his dad, prominent trial lawyer Fred Baron, is dying of cancer. His one chance, an experimental lifesaving drug, was denied by its manufacturer, Biogen Idec. We won't mention how Fred paid to relocate Rielle Hunter, the mistress of former presidential candidate John Edwards, out of hte spotlight. Or how Baron père and fils fought over the funding of Rocketboom, which Fred supplied. No, we'll just point you to this grotesque demand from a commenter on FriendFeed, Peter Huesken:
Remember the Edwards scandal? It seems like it was so many crises ago. To remind you: attorney Fred Baron is the former Edwards campaign financer who saved the failed Presidential candidate by not being able to remember anything about paying for Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter's rent and legal needs. Baron's son—Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron—jumped into the fray with some unadvisable blogging in defense of his dad. The story began as a farce, but now it's veering towards tragedy: last week the elder Baron was diagnosed with multiple myeoma. He could die within the week unless he gets access to a certain miracle drug.Its manufacturer won't let it be used for that specific purpose, so his son is is appealing is appealing to the company to get its use approved. He's somehow gotten Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Lance Armstong and others involved:
Click to viewJohn Edwards has admitted to his affair with "filmmaker" Rielle Hunter, even if he hasn't come totally clean about the shenanigans he and his inner circle of advisors went through to keep it a secret. Elizabeth Edwards has also admitted that she knew about the affair before her husband formally announced his candidacy. But the Baron family — deep-pocketed trial lawyer Fred Baron and son Andrew Baron, who funded his startup Rocketboom from the family coffers — continue to hand-wave about what, exactly, they knew.Andrew Baron has denied he knew anything. But troublingly, he also says his dad didn't know about the affair, which strains belief — considering that it was Fred Baron's ongoing financial assistance to Hunter which blew Edwards's cover. I'm inclined to believe that the younger Baron was not, in fact, wise to the arrangement, and it's only natural to stick up for family. Unless you purport to be a news organization, in which case recusal is your best bet. Because it all makes Rocketboom's original coverage of the Edwards campaign look all the more fawning and uninformed in retrospect. By continuing to toe the family line in public adds fuel to a story that, like Edwards's political career, no longer really matters. While one might be willing to forgive the original faux pas of letting the campaign lead you around by the news nose, it doesn't help perceptions of questionable "new media" journalist ethics to continue to deny, deny, deny. As long as the younger Baron continues to trumpet his father's innocence in public, the more Rocketboom looks like it traded access for complicity, even if unintentionally. Andrew should probably take his own advice and "take a few days off."
Andrew Baron is the founder of "daily Internet culture" website Rocketboom. He's also the son of lawyer and former John Edwards finance Fred Baron — you know, the guy who saved Edwards by not being able to remember anything about paying for Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter's living quarters and lawyer. And it looks like Andrew has been blogging up a storm lately about his dad, according to Deceiver and Valleywag—which may or may not be advisable!Our own Dads would ream our ass if we ever pulled a stunt like that, which makes us wonder: is Baron's Dad OK with this? Is he in fact condoning it, using his son as a mouthpiece to spread his message of ignorant innocence about the whole affair? Blogs Andrew: "Update: I just spoke with my dad. He said that he had no knowledge whatsoever of John Edwards [sic] affair and just learned about it for the first time about 2 weeks ago." Perfect. So, Edwards has already established that he had no idea that Rielle Hunter was being given hush money. And Fred Baron only vaguely recalls giving money to people, sort of. So everyone's safe! This is either a huge lie, or clueless, lawyerly "don't want to know." Probably the latter. Related:
In just a few short months, the value of a Twitter user has gone up over 1,200 percent, according to completely arbitrary and illogical calculations. I initially pegged it at around $1 based on the value buyers were willing to pay for Andrew Baron's Twitter account at auction. When Twitter received $15 million in funding, it worked out to around $7.50 per user. Looking at potential revenues, advertising strategist Ben Kunz pegs it at $12.26, based on 2.3 million users, industry averages for cost-per-click ad revenue, and ten ads per user per day. Of course, since Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has declared Twitter.com an ad-free zone, and many Twitter users get messages by means other than the site, the actual revenue-per-user number hovers under zero.
In this corner, Andrew Baron, cofounder of hot videoblog mess Rocketboom, challenging Mahalo founder and incumbent blowhard champeen Jason Calacanis. Baron lands the first blow, citing Mahalo's "flat" traffic. Calacanis counters with some trash talk and then a body blow to Baron's privileged upbringing. Baron complains to the ref that the "trust-fund baby" charges were below the belt. Meanwhile, Calacanis argues with the judges that Baron shouldn't get the point on the Mahalo traffic jab. After the jump, the action continues.
What do Rocketboom's Andrew Baron and John Edwards's fling Rielle Hunter have in common? They're both videobloggers who live off of trial lawyer Fred Baron's largesse. Financing from Fred, Andrew's dad, got Andrew's Rocketboom videoblog off the ground. Add to that his contributions to the Edwards campaign, including paying to move Hunter to a new home in Santa Barbara, away from the limelight. And most damningly, Baron Sr. may have arranged for Baron Jr. to do video work for the Edwards campaign — simultaneously boosting his favored candidate and his son's business.Andrew Baron's involvement in the Edwards campaign has drawn notice before. The younger Baron failed to disclose that he was getting paid to do campaign videos which he packaged as interviews:
Here's a story far more interesting than anything you'll watch on YouTube: A prodigal scion of a wealthy family, pitted against his powerful father and an ambitious blonde. It's not a pilot for a new courtroom procedural — it's the tale of Andrew Baron's Rocketboom, an online-video startup held up, inexplicably, as an example of the potential of the medium. Sony's seven-figure deal to distribute Rocketboom is seen by some as evidence that the industry is growing up. But what it really tells us is that having access to a credit line backed by Daddy is as sure a recipe for success online as it was in the old Hollywood. The exciting plot twist: Baron's father was not always happy about the arrangement. We've only learned how daddy-dependent Rocketboom was because Fred Baron loaned his son's company a total of $810,300.40, and then took it to court in order to force repayment last year. If you think it's strange for a father to go after his own son's company in court, then you don't know the elder Baron.He's a leading Dallas attorney who even sued the firm he cofounded, Baron & Budd, and is a regular on blog Overlawyered. More interesting is that Amanda Congdon intervened in order to protect her claim on part of the company. Meanwhile, the younger Baron complains all this legal wrangling tied his dealmaking hands, and that the company nearly went broke twice this year. The Rocketboom episode neatly explains why the world of online video so resembles film school, a parent-funded enterprise of self-indulgent auteurs with macroambitions viewed by microaudiences (including yours truly). Sony's deal doesn't affirm the potential of online video as a means of creative expression; it simply tells us that the rich, despite themselves, can't help getting richer. (Photos by Eric Skiff and Alex de Carvalho)
Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron, who didn't invent the Internet, video, or Internet video, but did prove back in 2006 that its possible to become Internet famous with quick, quirky edits and a pretty girl's face, has announced a "seven-figure" distribution deal with Sony, TechCrunch reports, confirming a rumor we floated earlier this summer. Sony will distribute Baron's show over its PS3 videogame consoles, PlayStation Portables, and Bravia I-Link TVs.
HEARST TOWER, NEW YORK — Far from the sweaty, screaming fans that attended Digg's Brooklyn meetup Wednesday night, the suits of the Alley and Valley gathered last night on the top-most floor of the Hearst Tower for another Founders Club party to celebrate each others' transcendent splendor. All night, giant screens at either end of the party played clips from Citizen Kane, the barely fictionalized biopic based on the life of Hearst Corp.'s own founder, William Randolph Hearst. There wasn't a Hearst in the crowd, but there were those who aspire to be him. Blog moguls like PaidContent's Rafat Ali, Gawker Media's Nick Denton and AlleyCorp's Henry Blodget mingled. New Gifts.com CEO Jason Rapp attended, as did Digg cofounders Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's mentor, Valley bad boy Sean Parker, was rumored to be in the crowd as well. Jimmy Wales, cofounder of the world's most comprehensive list of William Randolph Heart's angry responses to Citizen Kane, attended with Andrea Weckerle on his arm. Photos below.
Lucky to attend the Founders' Club party, we bumped into Rocketboom creator Andrew Baron last night. Baron told us Rocketboom will sign a "fat" deal with a major content company as early as today. "Is that phat with a ph?" asked a bystander about the boast. "Fat in all meanings of the word," Baron said. "I just don't want to jinx it by saying who it is." He held up his hand and made a C with is thumb and forefinger to indicate, what, "a fat stack of cash?" I asked him. "Exactly." We asked if the deal was with Quincy Smith and CBS, because of Smith's deals for Wallstrip and Moblogic. "No, someone bigger than CBS," Baron said. Our second guess? Viacom. We haven't heard a no on that one yet.
According to a source at the Creative Artists Agency, host Joanne Colan is leaving Rocketboom, one of the Internet's first prominent news videoblogs. During her tenure, Colan never managed to transform the show (directed by creator Andrew Baron) from a quirky but inscrutable cult favorite into a mainstream online news source. (See for yourself below by watching today's weird episode.) Nor did she achieve the same web fame as her predecessor Amanda Congdon, who left a job with ABCNews.com last year.
CAMBRIDGE, MA — There's still hope, future. A full half of the people behind ROFLcon, the world's largest concentration of Internet-inspired pop-culture trends in one room, are female. Or, as they might put it, IRL LULZ 50% XX! As it's now officially impossible to host a tech-related conference without asking, Where are the women?, a "commenter" posed this to the morning's first all-guy panel. "Girls just have better things to do," answered Kyle "Paperclip to House Guy" MacDonald. Other possible explanations?
Jason Calacanis's human-powered search engine Mahalo is "fundamentally flawed," says videoblogger Andrew Baron. Well, we could have told you that: It's basically Yahoo's directory, 12 years too late. But Baron, best known for creating Rocketboom, trashed Calacanis's service not for its lack of originality, but for its lack of critical applause. "Mahalo is not a worthwhile product," Baron wrote, "I have never seen a single positive review of the site." What's got the guy so worked up?
Digital media types here in New York are always looking for a reason to celebrate their own achievements. A couple of months ago, a few of them began calling themselves the Founders Club and decided to start holding mixers around town. Last night, NBC hosted the latest in the series on the set of Saturday Night Live. Who showed? Mostly wantrepreneurs looking for a VC teat to suckle, of course. But I also ran into Digg CEO Jay Adelson, pictured above; a definitely not-pictured angel Ron Conway, who dodged my camera; a Facebook "founder"; and MC Hammer.
NICK DOUGLAS — "If you've sent me an email (and you aren't my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again." So says Fred Wilson, venture capitalist, declaring e-mail bankruptcy today on his blog. He's not the first high-profile person to take this measure. Here are three other notables who've given up on their e-mail (the most famous of whom reportedly white-lied) and three who found a better way.