Cunning stunts with digital twist….not the first, won’t be the last

Go get a mug of tea and a digestive or something…this might be a long one…

There’s been a bit of hoohaa in the last couple of days on tech blog bohemoth, TechCrunch, with regards to a newsletter email published in full. You can read all about it on the site. I’m not going to link to it as i feel that it would be a little hypocritical of me after what i’m about to write.

The basic gist of it is Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo and “boy-wonder” of Silicon Valley has been forecasting doom and gloom for all in tech/Web, stating only a few will survive the Tech-winter of 2008. Well, Jason had to make some “pre-preemptive cuts” at Mahalo and as he has a loyal following through his newsletter (Jason gave up blogging in the summer….it’s sooooo 2004 plus he was sick of pointless troll comments on his posts), he decided to send his subscribers a “how to handle lay-offs” article. I say article as it was more than 3000 words…..seriously, where the hell does he get the time….he has a business to run.

Aaaaanyway, who should be one of those newsletter subscribers, but his good pal and partner in crime for the TechCrunch 40/50 events, none other than Michael Arrington. TechCrunch decides to post Calacanis’ newsletter article in full, stating that it was of public interest and the newsletter was sent to 9000 people anyways.

Lots of people have commented on the article included Calacanis himself, asking TechCrunch to take it down, they have no right publishing the email, word-for-word (does seem a bit lazy guys), even going to the extent of saying “Do I really have to send a DMCA letter to your ISP?!?!”.

This it what strikes me as odd. The guy is obviously good friends with Arrington, the big cheese at TechCrunch and so rather than posting a comment about how annoyed he is, you would have thought he would pick up the phone and talk it out privately, rather than air his thoughts publicly……unless this has been the plan all along…..Ah..HA!

What? Surely not? It is quite strange though….

Of course this makes sense. A lot of people (me included) think Calacanis has rather high thoughts of himself, but then i guess that’s helped him get ahead….maybe. His recent doom and gloom posts have been countered by other blog posts that things aren’t as bad as some people make out and there is a need to be positive. You have to wonder if Calacanis is seeing his Mahalo business tank and is thinking “Well if this is happening to me, everyone else must be screwed, because i’m the Jason Calacanis”…..or not. Back on point though, what better way to drum up some numbers for both sides in this “tech-winter” than to have a bit of a public fall-out and get people talking about it. Well it’s worked…i’m even bothering to take the time to write about it.

  • Techcrunch posts something with no real news hook or value, but a little controversial
  • Calacanis gets miffed and comments on the piece.
  • People flock to the site to comment or read what’s going on (i’m guilty as anyone).
  • TechCrunch’s numbers go up: mo people = mo money from ads
  • Calacanis’ newsletter also gets a few new subscribers: mo people = mo money from ads

It looks like a PR trick, an absolute classic with a digital twist. There’s an old saying that “There’s no such thing as bad press”. This is a glorious example of that. TechCrunch is a media company, with targets to be hit and revenues to increase. Calacanis is also a publisher, the more people he can get subscribed to his newsletter, the more advertisers are interested in getting into his very specifc group of over 10,000 people.

Both parties here are winners in the end. Who loses out? The people who spent an age reading the post and all the comments? Perhaps. The people who got laid off from Mahalo? Definitely, but no doubt they’re good at their job and will be snapped up. Hard to pick out who specifically loses out…..especially with two winners.

Anyway. Here’s a picture of a dog dressed as a golfer. While i agree dressing animals up as people can be cruel, it looks funny as hell.

Look! It thinks it's people!

Look! It thinks it's people!

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~ by Neil on October 24, 2008.

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