One reason a lot of Twitterholics love Twitter is that there are no advertisements to interrupt the first-person human communication. Now TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington has found a German startup, Be-A-Magpie, that offers to pay Twitterers to mix ads into their status updates. The service sends tweets from your account, with your name and face plus their 140-character advertiser's message. I love watching Arrington smolder over the idea, because he's right. The Internet was built by people trying to get away from this sort of thing.
With a name like SearchWiki, you know it's going to be clever, yet stupid. Google has spent ten years and I don't know how many hundred million dollars refining a rocket-science algorithm for ranking Internet search results. Now, a few Google coders have whipped up a feature that lets you boost or cut the scores of individual websites from your own future searches. For example, grudge-o-matic TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington can click his own posts to the top of any Google search he performs. With one more click, he can remove Valleywag entirely from his life. That frees us to post as many photos of Big Mike's girlfriends as we want. Everybody wins! Personal note to Google engineer Amay: Next time you make a video, try to go longer than seven seconds without saying "cool."
Halloween's on a Friday. With people already more worried about keeping their jobs than actually doing them, you might as well plan on writing the workday off. Trying to figure out a clever costume in which to pester your remaining coworkers? Valleywag has done the work for you. Print up one of these masks, designed by Valleywag interim creative director Richard Blakeley, on the finest-quality office paper you can steal from the supply closet, follow our tips on how to act the part, and you're good to go. Select from our list:
How to wear it: Biz-dev blue dress shirt and pleated pants. How to scare them: Whenever someone starts talking to you, find someone more important in the room and walk away. If anyone complains, take a mental note of where they work and swear never to write about them again, unless they offer you a stake in the company. Next: Jerry Yang, Yahoo's undead CEO
Davos, baby! The partying at the World Economic Forum, the annual conference held in a Swiss resort town that has become synonymous with the event, was "out of control," organizer Klaus Schwab now admits. The Wall Street bosses and Beltway bandits were too busy having a ball to keep their eye on it, even as the economy lurched towards the abyss. This strikes me as revisionist history; the Times reported on the nervous mood at this year's Davos So who kept the event festive?Why, Google did, according to Davos party correspondent Meghan Asha, the sometimes girlfriend of TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, who got her in. Google's affair included Norman Jay, a British house-music DJ. There you have it: Larry and Sergey are at fault for distracting the world's best and brightest from preventing the meltdown we now face. If Schwab is serious about keeping thing's serious at the next WEF, we recommend disinviting Page and Brin. And Arrington and Asha.
Michael Arrington is a has-been, and he knows it. When the smoke clears after the crash and burn of the money machine behind today's tech startups, there's one word no one will ever write into a business plan again: Web 2.0. For Arrington, whose TechCrunch blog was born with the mission of tracking what he called "Web 2.0" startups, that's a problem.He's made Web 2.0 as much as Web 2.0 made him. Now, Arrington needs to cut his name loose before he becomes just another has-been journalist with a trade magazine. There's only one way to do that: Quit TechCrunch. Back away slowly. Keep coming into work now and then — preferably to a real office, rather than commuting from his bedroom to his living room, as he still does today. Post some of the biggest scoops. Talk up the next conference, party, or other cobranded event with Calacanis and Om. I don't do predictions. I'm always wrong. But Mike, this is true: I used to get tips all the time that "Michael Arrington is doing some vaguely dishonest thing. I know, because I know someone. Run with it, Valleywag! Keep digging! Follow the money!" Today, Friday October 24, 2008, with everyone freaking out over money, with tech employees looking for the truth behind the phony all-Is-well messages coming from their leaders, Valleywag gets more tips than ever. I've noticed one undeniable trend: The number of rumors about TechCrunch I get has peaked. It's over. Michael Arrington may end up on Charlie Rose again. Michael Arrington may get called "kingmaker" again. Michael Arrington, kingmaker! But TechCrunch? Mike, that's so Web 2.0. (Photo by Joi Ito)
The TechCrunch Layoff Tracker is a handy reference tool for checking who has or hasn't done the mandatory 20% staff reduction this month. Like CrunchBase, it's a handy resource for looking up baseball stats on Web 2.0 team owners, to predict who may or may not catch the ball this time. (I saw W over the weekend. Bear with me.) What's missing from the Layoff Tracker?Stories. Companies now submit canned layoff rumors to TechCrunch, Valleywag and other sites. They hope to control the story, the way W's pimple-faced speechwriters leaked Bush's "Axis of Evil" text to their moles at the big newspapers. Look at the Source column on TechCrunch's list. Source: TechCrunch. Source: TechCrunch. Source: TechCrunch. Do you think Iron Mike Arrington is hiding behind the potted plants in your office? I hope he makes good on that threat to buy Fucked Company, so he can report Web 2.0 both coming and going.
Oh dear. Last week we told you about that actor who killed himself in Korea partly in response to some homophobic online attacks. And now, when looking at a larger trend of suicide in that country, it appears that Korea may have a dangerous internet bullying problem on their hands. The International Herald Tribune reported yesterday about the death of Choi Jin Sil, a Korean actress who committed suicide after a series of vicious internet attacks:
Earthcomber, a Chicago startup, filed suit against Loopt, a Mountain View startup, for allegedly infringing on a patent that lets "a system and method for locating and notifying a user of a person, place or thing having attributes matching the user’s stated preferences." Yawn. To spice things up, Earthcomber today added TechCrunch, the blog of blowhard Michael Arrington, to the lawsuit. Why? Ostensibly because Earthcomber's CEO couldn't find Arrington's phone number. So much for locating users. [TechCrunch]
Mail Goggles is a Google-built version of a feature email users have joked about for decades: It makes you stop, think and pass a sobriety test before sending messages after a certain hour or on weekends. The name is a pun on Beer Goggles — but it gets the logic backwards. Somebody must have been drunk.Michael Arrington at TechCrunch worries Mail Goggles is a hoax — fair enough, since Google developer Jon Perlow didn't explain how to find it unless you already know where it is. Typical engineer. To test-drive Mail Goggles, login to a Gmail account. Click Settings in the upper right corner, then click Labs at the far right. Mail Googles is halfway down the Labs page in alphabetical order. That alone should serve as a sobriety test. (Photoillustration by Digital Inspiration)
If you didn't believe our report that TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington is in bed with MySpace's top flack, Dani Dudeck, read the obsessive startup blogger's latest story on MySpace Music, which claims that MySpace has "streamed" 1 billion songs. Considering that most MySpace profiles are set to start playing a song, whether you like it or not, as soon as you visit them, that's not that impressive. Arrington leads his story by comparing MySpace streams to iTunes sales, and then acknowledges it's not a "fair comparison." His readers, in the comments, went much further, citing our report and questioning whether the affair with Dudeck clouded Arrington's judgment. Those comments have been — what's the word? — unpublished.
The folks at Loopt managed to garner a heaping helping of positive publicity from Michael Arrington by releasing a tool allowing readers of Arrington's TechCrunch blog to stalk each other out in the real world. And not only will it help you raise all sorts of privacy concerns among perfect strangers, Arrington himself will tell you where he is in the world at all times. So it shouldn't be hard to find him when he ditches the plebes at the next TechCrunch event for a Scotch-fueled afterparty. (Photo by Andrew Mager)
It's complicated. God, is it ever. The same October Details story that follows around New York's "Internet playboys" and their bicoastal hangers-on runs with this chart of who dated, funded, or hated in this overdocumented side of the Web scene. So sweet to know we're not the only ones keeping a scorecard, but one of its subjects, Caroline McCarthy, claims there's inaccuracies! Let's do Details and the kids recently fanning their fameballs from the coverage a favor and fix it up then. Ready? Let loose in the comments with your errata.
We know what TechCrunch's Michael Arrington got out of sleeping with MySpace PR executive Dani Dudeck: Screenshots of MySpace Music before the service launched. But what was Dudeck's quid to Arrington's quo? To find that, it's worth examining all the nice things Arrington has posted about her employer over the past couple of months.On MySpace's Data Availability, a feature which lets MySpace users link their profiles to other services like Twitter, versus Google's similar Friend Connect, he wrote:
When TechCrunch, the blog for startup fetishists, published leaked screengrabs of MySpace's just-launched music service, Michael Arrington wrote: "We’ve been pounding our sources for screenshots of the new service for weeks without any luck." Now we know what he meant. A tipster tells us, and another source confirms, that Arrington's been dating Dani Dudeck, MySpace's VP of global communications, for months.We're told Dudeck leaked Arrington not only the MySpace Music screenshots, but also tipped him to a story about MySpace friend-in-chief Tom Anderson's brush with the FBI as a hacker in the 1980s. The article served to burnish Anderson's rather questionable geek credentials. MySpace has helped Arrington's business in other ways besides feeding him stories. The News Corp.-owned social network was a major sponsor of the recent TechCrunch50 conference. Arrington has no issue bragging privately about his relationship with Dudeck. And Dudeck, our source says, has "no issues to sleeping with key influencers." Before Arrington, we hear, the rumor was Dudeck dated MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe. But don't believe us — let's go to the tape. Check out this clip of DeWolfe and Dudeck together at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, caught by Kara Swisher for AllThingsD. The way Dudeck leans in to DeWolfe to stay warm tells you more than any of our anonymous sources. Kara's quippy response — "You don't have to love me" — reminds me of an anecdote my boss once related about Dudeck. The flirtatious MySpace flack accosted him at a conference last year and said, "We really need to work on our relationship." Sorry, Dani — Owen doesn't swing that way.
The anointing of Yammer as the winner of TechCrunch50 has raised questions about how the startup-launch conference operates. Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, has made much of the fact that he and fellow event organizer Jason Calacanis don't charge startups to present at the show, as established rival Demo does. But people who attended the show are saying behind his back that the contest was rigged in favor of a pet startup of Arrington's with ties to one of the event's sponsors.Yammer is a business-friendly copy of Twitter. It's an offshoot of Geni, a Web-based genealogy site started by former PayPal COO David Sacks, which raised $100 million in venture capital last year. TechCrunch50's prize panel, composed of Arrington and a few TechCrunch insiders (shown here, in a spy photo taken at the event), passed over more promising startups like FitBit, the maker of a wellness-monitoring gadget. Quality aside, a sense of fairness might have led Arrington to give Yammer the skip: Neither Sacks nor Geni needed the $50,000 prize. Arrington's crush on Geni has been obvious since before its launch. (Most recently, he claimed Geni had close to a million visitors a month in August; according to a link to Compete.com Arrington himself included in his writeup, it's actually 400,000, a fraction of the audience enjoyed by established genealogy sites like Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.) The problem with events like this is no one is unconflicted. But Sacks is in particularly deep: His former boss at PayPal, Peter Thiel, now runs VC firm Founders Fund, one of TechCrunch50's sponsors. Arrington has long been rumored to favor startups backed by the VCs who sponsor his event. He brags that he doesn't charge startups directly to appear on stage. But he seems to like to have them in his pocket, one way or another.
Please tell me someone has pictures of Seesmic founder Loïc Le Meur giving small-time technology investor Michael Arrington Segway riding lessons outside 330 Ritch for the TechCrunch50 conference's closing party. For now, I'll have to settle for Siqi Chen, left, and Alex Le, right, the guys behind Facebook widget Friends For Sale, at the Plista party at Fluid. Where's the afterparty? It's not at the W or the Four Seasons. Maybe Mahalo chief Jason Calacanis is drinking responsibly tonight and has turned in early, but I'm pretty sure Arrington is up drinking scotch somewhere.
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington just wants to get a scotch and hit on girls at the Seesmic party at 330 Rich, but ended up stuck in the multi-hour-long line outside the closing night party. Dutiful Seesmic founder Loïc Le Meur personally came out to escort him past the velvet ropes. For a second there, people might have come to the conclusion that TechCrunch50 was some kind of democracy.