MySpace DJ taunts Wall Street Journal reporter

Owen Thomas · 11/07/08 03:20PM

Poor Jessica Vascellaro. The Wall Street Journal reporter will never be able to live down the video she and several Webhead friends recorded on a Cyprus vacation. The song-and-dance number was controversial as a sign of bubble-era excess — and as an indication that Vascellaro might be rather too close to the companies she covers. Last night, as Vascellaro partied at the MySpace Music party, the DJ put on "Don't Stop Believing" — the same Journey song which provided the soundtrack to their seaside frolics. Kara Swisher has video from the party:Click to view

Wall Street Journal discovers Twitter

Owen Thomas · 10/28/08 03:00AM

The Wall Street Journal is running a strange article about Twitter. Everything about it strikes me as bizarre, right down to the picture, which shows Jack Dorsey, the cofounder recently ousted as the company's CEO. Indeed, the article is more telling in what it doesn't cover than what it does.For example, it doesn't even allude to the company's office drama; cofounder Biz Stone subs in as spokesman for new CEO Ev Williams. It also skips over Twitter's latest privacy violation, which even affected the author of the piece. But it does, in a roundabout way, get at the heart of Twitter's problem: The tool for posting short text updates can be useful for businesses — just not Twitter itself. Cofounder Biz Stone suggests the company may find a way to charge business customers for "premium services." A great idea. If only it had tried it a year ago, before the market crisis made such a move look desperate, rather than a bold experiment. (Photo by Getty Images)

Twitter bug reveals friends-only messages

Owen Thomas · 10/24/08 04:00PM

Be careful what you Twitter — especially if you think the website will keep it secret for you. In 1999, Scott McNealy, then Sun's CEO, said, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Webheads have been diligently trying to prove him wrong since, with online tools that zealously guard our privacy. And yet they keep proving him right, with senseless coding errors which destroy the very privacy they try to protect. The latest example: Twitter. A Hungarian website, Webisztán, has found a simple exploit for Twitter.A feed of your friends' Twitter messages publicly lists all all messages, whether or not they're "protected." (Twitter users can choose to protect their messages so only designated "friends" can see them.) I decided to test the bug on some folks for whom privacy might be a fresh concern — two ringleaders of the infamous "Camp Cyprus" video, Facebook product manager Dave Morin, and Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Vascellaro. Both participated in a seaside frolic in Cyprus with several other Internet-employed individuals, which has become a symbol of Web 2.0 excess. Vascellaro made her Twitter messages private after she got back from her Cyprus vacation, after rather indiscreetly Twittering several updates about the progress of the video. Sure enough, Morin's feed of messages from Twitter friends contains a private message broadcasted by Vascellaro only to her designated friends. Fortunately, it's just a notice that she's "in need of Halloween costume ideas," rather than an update about a story she's filing for the paper. To see anyone else's private, friends-only messages, pick one of the user's friends, and then substitute their user name in this URL:

The vanity Facebook ad

Owen Thomas · 10/15/08 03:40PM

Facebook's vaunted ad-targeting system, the buy-your-own ad tool meant to menace Google's $20 billion-a-year monster money machine, has become a joke. What only Internet-industry insiders seem to realize: It allows such minutely detailed targeting that people are now using it as a timewasting trick to amuse their friends — or total strangers. Underemployed rich kid Sam Lessin — yes, the one whose investment-banker dad provided the stage set for Camp Cyprus's Internet-destroying seaside froliccreated an ad meant to target his girlfriend, Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Vascellaro. Gizmodo, a gadget website, has had an intern hopeful targeting a Facebook ad at employees of Gawker Media, the publisher of both Gizmodo and Valleywag, for months. And now some fellow has started promoting his son's Twitter feed.The campaign isn't doing much for Johnny Nguyen of Crescent, Calif. Despite the ad, he only has eight followers on the microblogging site, which doesn't speak well for Facebook's efficacy as an advertising platform. But it does suggest a future for Facebook. Google is where people will go when they want to purchase customers. Facebook is where bored people will pay to entertain their friends, and lonely people will pay to feel like someone's listening to their Internet rants. Money can't buy you love, but it may get you a Facebook friend. Think of the money spent on 900 numbers by people who just want someone to talk to, and you can imagine the potential.

On Sequoia's firing line

Owen Thomas · 10/09/08 06:00PM

What plots are the members of "Camp Cyprus," a group of young webheads, cooking up? Perhaps we'll read about them in a Wall Street Journal front-page A-hed, since reporter Jessica Vascellaro was on the scene, along with Wall Street-scion boyfriend Sam Lessin, the CEO of Can you think of a better caption? Leave it in the comments; the best one will become the new headline of the post. Yesterday's winner: TheChris2.0, for "McCain and Whitman unveil Social Security plan." (Photo by Sam Lessin)

WSJ reporter parties in Cyprus with people she covers

Owen Thomas · 10/09/08 05:00PM

You can never escape the media! Valleywag's favorite hot-tech-company couple, Facebooker Dave Morin and Googler Brittany Bohnet, weren't vacationing in Cyprus alone. A whole group, "Campcyprus," attended the get-together in the Mediterranean island's Turkish-controlled sector. And who was in the in crowd? Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Vascellaro, who covers Facebook and Google, and her startup-founder boyfriend, CEO Sam Lessin, the son of ultrawealthy investment banker Bob Lessin. Sam, who's normally obsessed with privacy, posted this photo of the couple. So cute!And now I know why I got an out-of-office message from her when I complained about her nicking not one but two of my recent stories on Facebook for a Journal article! But I would have been more impressed with Vascellaro's honesty if she had said that she was going to Cyprus with "sources" rather than, as she Twittered, "buddies." Catch Vascellaro's cameo in Bohnet's latest video: Cyprus Lip Dub - Don't Stop Believing from Brittany Bohnet on Vimeo. (Photo by Sam Lessin)

Wall Street Journal reporter writes up colleague's Harvard boyfriend

Owen Thomas · 05/20/08 12:20PM

Vauhini Vara, who covers Facebook for the Wall Street Journal, is leaving the newspaper to go back to school. Why not write up a friend on the way out the door? In a profile of Harvard graduates inspired by — or jealous of — Mark Zuckerberg's startup success, she includes Sam Lessin, cofounder of A file-sharing startup which has raised only $3.9 million wouldn't normally rate a mention in the Journal, one would think. But Lessin is also the boyfriend of Jessica Vascellaro, the Journal reporter who's moving to Silicon Valley to cover Yahoo and Google.

Google and Yahoo, meet your new WSJ beat reporter

Owen Thomas · 04/07/08 01:10PM

The Wall Street Journal's Jessica Vascellaro is moving from New York to Silicon Valley to take over the Google and Yahoo beat. Watch out, Eric Schmidt and Jerry Yang: Vascellaro's article on the rift between Liberty Media's John Malone and IAC's Barry Diller helped spawn a nasty lawsuit between the moguls. [Silicon Alley Insider]