The disturbing shit I get in my email inbox

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: <@yahoo.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Subject: About.me message from dal harper

Hi robinwauters,

You have a new message from dal harper:

“you ought to be ashamed of yourself telling people to download conduit. i just gotthe piece ofshitoff after 2 days trying. it repalces your regular google yahoo etc with a copy but the graphic designer is really incompetent so its easy to tell that some evis piece of shit is controllingyour computer and your searches.

i feel sorry forthechild you are raising. you are everything wrong with the world but you already know that dont you.shame. how much were you paid. i pray u get whats coming”

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After Three Years @TechCrunch, Some Lessons Learned

Three

Today marks my 3-year anniversary of working for TechCrunch. I promised a post about it on Twitter, so here goes.

Three years ago, I wrote my first two blog posts for TechCrunch, as a part-timer back then (but actually working full-time). They were pretty awful posts, in hindsight, but I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at mastering the tech blogging game over the years.

I’ve typed my way onto a not-so-long list of well-read technology business writers; it may not mean much to you, but I’m pretty proud I made it to the top 10 on the Techmeme author ranking. 

As I’m sure everyone knows, TechCrunch started out of Mike Arrington’s house and grew consistently every single month after its launch, to end up getting acquired by AOL a little over six years later. By the time I started, there were already a few writers on the team, but I remember very well that it felt very much like any scrappy startup when I first joined. It was fun.

I’ve actually worked from Mike’s house for a couple of days when I flew out to California for the first time in my life, a few years ago (that’s a story for another day), and later from their office in Palo Alto. Ironically, I haven’t had the chance to visit TC’s current office in San Francisco yet.

It’s been a great, although at times rather stressful three years in which I’ve worked very hard, learned a ton, wrote literally thousands of blog posts, didn’t sleep remotely enough for my own good, met with and talked to thousands of tech startup founders, industry execs, entrepreneurs and investors, read an insane amount of emails, other blog posts, news articles, essays, books and press releases, and traveled intensively – mostly in Europe but also to the United States – to attend, speak and moderate panels at conferences, events, summits, parties and whatnot.

Since you probably don’t really care who I’ve met, how hard I’ve worked and where I’ve traveled to over the years (ok: Prague, Helsinki, Barcelona, Aarhus, Dublin, San Francisco + Bay Area, Amsterdam, Oslo, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tampere, New York, Istanbul, London, Geneva and Sevilla), I would like to share some of the things I’ve learned to date:

Tech blogging is easy. And very hard.

Pretty much anyone can become a tech blogger. Seriously. But to get noticed, let alone become a successful tech blogger, you’ll need to work very hard for a long time, have a tremendous level of passion for technology and startups, read and learn as much as you humanly can, and be willing to make some mistakes along the way.

If you want to do this type of work day in, day out, you’ll have to be super passionate actually. It isn’t that much different from entrepreneurs building a new business from scratch (although with less risk involved, admittedly).

But once you know how the game works, it gets easy. Sometimes too easy (I have to admit it gets boring at times).

Bloggers screw up sometimes. ‘Real’ tech reporters and journalists do too.

TechCrunch is about being fast and accurate. On rare occasions, we’ll be fast but not 100% accurate, and then we’ll quickly edit, correct, move on, break some more news, and move on again. We are as professional at this trade as anyone, even if we do mistakes from time to time. All journalists do, without exception.

I’ve seen highly praised, ‘famous’ tech reporters goof, repeatedly. I’ve witnessed big media companies like the NYT and WSJ get things completely wrong (most of the times they correct, but not always, and not always with disclosure of edits that were made). I’ve seen big names in media report stories that were broken by bloggers – at TechCrunch or smaller sites – without a hint of attribution or acknowledgment.

We’re all people. At some point, we should just admit that and all start adhering to ‘radical transparency’ in everything we do.

Entrepreneurs seem to be the same breed, everywhere you go.

Being an entrepreneur is hard. Very hard. Much harder than being a tech blogger. But the more you travel and meet with entrepreneurs and startup founders, the more you realize people busting their asses over in Silicon Valley aren’t that different from people busting their asses over in Tel Aviv, Finland or Spain. In fact, they’re all alike.

Enterpreneurship to me is all. about. passion. Screw access to capital, exit potential, proper education, networking and whatnot. It all starts with someone trying to make a change in the world, whether it’s on a little or a big scale, and finding the right people to come along with them for the ride.

Their businesses, target markets, revenue projections, strategic plans and experience will differ, all over the place actually, but the passion of true entrepreneurs I can spot from a mile away. And they’re the same type of people, anywhere one travels. 

These are some of the big things I’ve learned over the past three years. There are lots of small things I’ve learned, too, but it’s surprisingly hard to fit it into a blog post.

One thing is for sure: aside from all the places I’ve been able to travel to, and all the people I’ve met, what I’ve learned over the past few years is definitely what I’m most grateful for.

So once again, thank you Mike Arrington for giving me the chance to ride the TechCrunch wave. It’s been fun and a privilege.

(Picture credit goes to Flickr user Bekathwia)

 

 

Welcome to Belgium, @Yelp. A few words, though.

Rejoice, for Yelp has finally made its way to Belgium with the launch of Yelp.be.

Oh look, you can even change your language at the top left there, so let’s switch from Français (French) to Nederlands (Dutch), shall we?

Whoops.

Yelp

Yelp2

Nice try, but you might have launched a little prematurely there. May I suggest hiring a professional translator before you make a bigger fool of yourself?

Hilariously, in the launch blog post, they say Belgium produces 172,000 pounds of chocolate every year, which they figure is 78,000 kilos (via Stefan)

Dear Yelp, Belgium produces about 172,000 tons of chocolate every year.

That’s 172 million kilos. You’re welcome.

Ode to @Airbnb

Airbnb

I was in London this week for the Planet Of The Apps conference and to meet with some people. The event was held in a hotel called the Royal Garden (West London), so it obviously made sense for me to stay there.

The event organizers, even though I was chairing the entire conference for a full day and moderating a whole bunch of panels, didn’t have a budget reserved for fees, transport or accommodation, so I had to pay for things out of my own pocket.

Unusual, but hey, I knew that going in.

My employer (TechCrunch/AOL) covers work-related expenses, but the hotel was so utterly expensive, particularly the non-complimentary Wi-Fi connection (£20 per day), that I quickly decided not to book a room there.

Needless to say, it’s not because someone else covers your expenses that you should accept getting ripped off.

Anyway, I decided to try Airbnb.com (not for the first time, mind you), and the experience was nothing short of amazing. Quickly found an available (and quite luxurious) bedroom with private bath and shower room not too far from the event venue.

Getting in touch with my (phenomenal) hosts was easy, the online payment process was smooth, and a small hickup with the reservation was quickly dealt with by Airbnb support.

Frictionless.

My hosts – a lovely young couple – made me breakfast and coffee every morning, and gave me great tips with regards to public transport. They also offered complimentary Wi-Fi, free of charge. Oh, and they love Airbnb, too.

Disruptive.

Airbnb may have been overvalued with its latest funding round, or it may not have been.

One thing is for sure, though: the general idea behind the company’s service can prove to be enormously disruptive to the vacationing industry, particularly when it comes to short (business or leisure) travel to major cities throughout the world.

Congrats on the @CrunchFund move, @parislemon

Mg

It’s been such a hectic day that I haven’t yet found myself able to properly congratulate my colleague MG Siegler (aka @parislemon) on becoming a venture capitalist and joining Mike Arrington’s – and Pat’s – CrunchFund as a general partner.

May he seed and guide a lot of interesting startups and help spur more tech innovation and market disruption.

I’m pleased that he will also continue to write for TechCrunch, even if ‘only’ as a columnist on the Apple beat (which has become so much of a specialty of his that you’d be nuts not to follow his writings if you’re even only a tiny bit interested in Apple, such as myself).

MG’s a smart guy, has a nose for truly innovative startups and is evidently well-connected with the right kind of crowd in the Valley, so I daresay chances are that he’ll make a great VC. I can only hope he realizes that he has much to learn about professional investing, though, and that the learning process will not always feel like a walk in the park.

Investing in startups is a whole different ballgame than writing about them, although I can’t say I speak from first-hand experience – only from writing about the tech industry for a good few years now, and reading a lot of books, interviews and blog posts by and about venture capitalists and early-stage investing in general.

So MG, my wish for you is that you have lots of fun learning to master the VC game, make a killing along the way and that you’ll continue to blog no matter what –  mkay?

(Picture courtesy of TechCrunch on Flickr)