The Problem With TechCrunch

Which brings me to TechCrunch’s big problem, as I perceive it.

What bugs me most about working at TechCrunch specifically, and what I think is its single biggest problem, is the lack of internal communication within the company. If TechCrunch ever had but a single flaw, that is it. And I’ve tried to tell Mike, Erick and Heather. Several times.

Excuse me if I offend anyone, but TechCrunch is decidely not a team effort. It’s a bunch of loosely joint, awesome bloggers doing some really good reporting on the tech space from different spaces, and with varying personal interests.

But I’ve worked for TechCrunch for nearly 3 years now, albeit remotely, and I can’t say there’s much actual collaboration going on behind the scenes from what I can see. That goes for editorial output, strategy, website development and other things (i.e. the site’s redesign). More often than not, it feels like everyone’s kind of working on his own thing most of the time.

I’m not a fan of meetings, over-the-top editorial guidelines and ridiculous policies either, but some internal communication from time and time could certainly remove a ton of daily and general friction.

That’s just the way it is, and it’s quite amazing that TechCrunch still manages to kick so much ass despite in spite of this issue. Of course, perhaps it’s thanks to this combination of individuals doing their own thing that we’ve gotten so incredibly good at this game, although I don’t see how a little more ‘working together’ would do any harm.

Donald Trump once wrote: “Show me someone without an ego, and I’ll show you a loser.” I hope he’s not right, but I fear he may be when it comes to professional tech reporting.

You know those internal memos from a company’s management that always seem to find their way into reporters’ hands? Well, in this case, I wish I’d gotten a few such memos in the past two weeks (and before that), preferably before they inevitably leaked.

I had to read other publications to learn TechCrunch was being acquired by AOL; that Michael Arrington was starting a venture fund; how AOL, AOL Ventures and Arianna Huffington felt about that; that Mike was eventually fired from TechCrunch/AOL, that Mike is starting a new blog, and that he had some issues with what Erick wrote in his post announcing the TC Disrupt SF 2011 finalists.

My phone is always on, I check email pretty much around the clock, and I’m always on Yammer (the software tool that should be our team communication and collaboration enabler but often doesn’t work, or isn’t properly used internally) and Skype when I’m online. You have to wonder why I still don’t know what happened behind the scenes, and resulted in Mike and Paul departing the company. It would have been so easy to inform me (and the rest of the team) by now.

Even if things get cleared up for me eventually, either through personal conversations with Mike, Erick and Heather or by them making public statements, it all leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When your powers that be decide that you’re not supposed to get any information before it gets published elsewhere, it makes you feel almost negligible, certainly not ‘part of a team’ and not important enough to be kept in the loop. Intentional or not, that’s how I feel sometimes.

The kind of feelings you don’t want people to have at a company that’s going through a rough phase. I’m not saying that this will eventually be the TechCrunch’s downfall, but it’s a problem that needs to be fixed if we want to maintain our leading position.

(For the record, I’m not going anywhere. I love TechCrunch.)



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