September 28th, 2010

I almost talked to Arrington once and other more valuable tales from the TechCrunch trenches


I almost talked to Arrington once and other more valuable tales from the TechCrunch trenches

In case you’ve been hiding under a tech news resistant rock, I wanted to let you know that TechCrunch — the 800 lbs. gorilla of tech blogs — has been acquired by AOL. Yes, that AOL. And the news, strangely enough, is topping Techmeme. Much like TechCrunch posts have for years.

Say all you want about Michael Arrington, the guy who started TechCrunch. It’s an important event to note. Because it’s a five year old blog being sold to a major corporation for a rumored $25 million or so.

What does this have to do with the Portland tech scene? Well, a couple of things.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that TechCrunch was part of the inspiration for me to start Silicon Florist. Perhaps more of a negative motivator than a positive one. But a motivator nonetheless. I mean, I liked what TechCrunch was doing. I liked their attitude. But I hated that they never seemed to cover anything in the Portland tech scene. So I started a blog to do that.

And when they did cover stuff in the Portland tech scene? Well, that was my one near miss with Arrington.

You see, roughly two years ago when times got bad, Sequoia Capital gave their infamous RIP Good Times presentation to companies in which they had invested. One of those companies was formerly Portland-headquartered Jive Software.

When rumors started swirling about Jive layoffs, I covered the story—not realizing they were one of the first companies to swing the axe.

As I was on the phone trying to get more details on the story, a call came through from the Bay Area. I stayed on the call I was on. Seconds later, I get an IM message from a former Jive employee. With lots of exclamation points. That he was on the phone with Arrington.

Near miss for me. But one I’ll always remember.

Portland, however, has a much more meaningful connection to TechCrunch than my Munchausen like proclivity for hyperbole. And that connection is the first hired writer for TechCrunch. An amazing writer who was very instrumental in that whole inspiration thing I mentioned above.

That writer was Marshall Kirkpatrick, now the co-editor of ReadWriteWeb. And he is the reason I’m even writing this post.

You see, given today’s news, Marshall has taken the opportunity to share what he learned as part of TechCrunch. And what he learned from Arrington. And quite frankly, it’s a must read for anyone who is even toying with the idea of writing for a breaking news blog like TechCrunch.

The most important lessons?

Things I Learned About Blogging from Michael Arrington

  • A great blogger is always on. Looking back over my emails while working for TechCrunch, many of them are apologies for not having anything posted by 10am, or explaining why I am stopping work on a Friday evening.
  • It’s important to be first, but if you’re not first – it’s important to link to whoever you learned about something from. The blogosphere is a trail of links, and status is built by earning links from others.
  • It’s good to stir the pot, to challenge people who need challenging, but it’s also important to give people the respect they deserve.
  • Details matter in your writing. Unclear, imprecise language is important to avoid.
  • The background of company founders is important. It should influence who you chase down to write about and it should be included in any write-up of a startup.
  • Conference sessions are boring and pointless, it’s usually better to work the halls for stories.
  • Even a big, career advancing scoop is not worth ruining someone else’s career to get.

So there you go. Who knew the TechCrunch deal would be valuable for you too?

For more, read the glut of blog posts on the TechCrunch deal. And make sure to take a few minutes to read all of Marshall’s ode to his former employer.

(Image courtesy Christian Reed. Used under Creative Commons.)

Background that may help (or may not)

3 Responses to “I almost talked to Arrington once and other more valuable tales from the TechCrunch trenches”

  1. Ryan Williams says:

    Always fun to hear the Arrington stories, for as much as people complain about him and TechCrunch, Marshall is right, they’re everywhere and it is a big deal to be covered there. It will be interesting to see how TC evolves now.

    I once had an email exchange with Arrington (as in he wrote back a couple times, not just me emailing a pitch). That was over 4 years ago, and it’s still quite memorable. When my work finally made it to TechCrunch a couple years later, it was a nice feather in the cap.

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  3. [...] I almost talked to Arrington once and other more valuable tales from the TechCrunch trenches (2) [...]


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