Can we trust Michael Arrington? (AngelGate)

September 23, 2010

Like everyone else I’ve been reading and watching Mike’s latest ‘AngelGate’ story unfold for the last few days. It’s interesting to see lines so clearly and predictably divided on who is to be believed. If you’re an entrepeneur you believe Arrington. If you’re an Angel/VC you believe the attendees responses like that of Dave McClure and Chris Yeh and laugh the whole thing off. I see the whole thing as black and white. Either the Angels are lying or Mike is. Since we hardly know who was even in the room, it’s a lot easier to judge Mike’s track record for reporting and writing stories with unnamed sources then it is unnamed ‘Super Angels’.

I did a quick scan of Arrington’s posts for the last four months and here are the ‘unconfirmed’ rumors he wrote about, as well as the outcome of his sources and reporting.

Sept-April 2010

1. CrunchPad litigation update. Based on the original blog post and Mike commentary, Mike appears to have told the truth in Nov 2009 blog post. +1.

2. Google to acquire Jambol. This was later announced by Google. +1.

3. founder Joshua Schachter raises money for a new startup. Unconfirmed.

4. Disney about to acquire Playdom. This was confirmed 5-days later. +1

5. Google Secretly Invested $100+ Million In Zynga. This was confirmed 20 days later. +1

6. Mike Jones to become new MySpace President. This was confirmed. +1

7. Sugar Inc Didn’t Raise $30 Million From Sequoia. Unconfirmed.

8. Andreessen Horowitz To Win The Foursquare Investor Badge. Ben Horowitz wrote a nice blog post announcing the partnership 15 days later. +1

9. MySpace Spinmaster Dani Dudeck Resigns, Moves To Zynga. Confirmed here. +1

10. “Something tells me the wheels may be coming off the car at Cuil” (no source, just a good prediction). 5 months later, Cuil goes down for good. +1

11. Zynga’s Newest Game: FrontierVille. You can probably guess what happened two months later. +1

12. “The iPad will not fix your newspaper” (another prediction). Unconfirmed.

13. MySpace Planning To Roll Out Facebook Connect ASAP (Or Not). Official announcement rolled out 5-months later. +1

14. Source: Elevation Partners Got About 1% Of Facebook For $90 Million. Two months later 1.5% purchase announcement made. +1

15. Cisco May Be Making A Run For Skype. Unconfirmed. (Updated)

I haven’t taken a math class since high school; but those odds have me betting on Michael Arrington every time.

As an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, it’s sad to hear. I hope it’s not true. The people mentioned to have been in the room are some of my most highly respected people in tech (granted I don’t personally know any of them).  Like a dog that’s been beaten, I have cautiously hoped that Super Angels were the solution to a lot of the Founder/VC problems of the past. I still hope it’s true, although I’m much more skeptical after this week.


43 Responses to “Can we trust Michael Arrington? (AngelGate)”

  1. Chris Says:

    Arrington has a lot more credibility on this one. There’s some chance that his sources misconstrued things, but the Angels have a huge financial incentive to collude. Arrington’s financial incentive to lie isn’t nearly as strong.

  2. paisley Says:

    he has no credibility.. lame linkbait articles on seo that are false.. posting the hacked twitter docs.. (shouldn’t that bne a crime?)
    i don’t believe anything he or techcrunch says.

    • Derek Andersen Says:

      Thanks Paisley. I feel linkbaiting and quoting a controversial source topic are two completely different animals. You (or I) may not agree with his tactics, but he’s no liar. In fact he’s almost always correct when it comes to things he reports about.

      • paisley Says:

        not on SEO.. in anyway shape or form.

        i chalk it up to not understanding the subject matter.. but in my line of work that was all it took for me to stop Retweeting them.

        then when the twitter docs were sent to them by the french hacker and he posted them.. that was the beginning of the #noRTTechCrunch hashtag…

        everyone is out for their own interest, i can understand that..

        but when people cross that ethicial self serving – destruction line, you never know what to believe after that… i read tech crunch since it started.. but after the lame seo flasehood articles, i viewed techcrunch differently.. then the hacked docs thing..

        he’s just not a good person. period. I don’t trust his or techcrunch’s info.

        remember the girl who quit her job on a dry erase board?

        how soon we forget the scams put out by techcrunch not verifying sources..

        #fail #norttechcrunch

      • bradley Says:

        what are the SEO articles you are talking about?

        btw most of the internet posted about the girl with the eraserboard

    • bradley Says:

      Did you read the article?

  3. Gary Watson Says:

    Maybe, but VC’s are herd animals. Most won’t take a dump unless they hear another VC grunting in an adjacent stall. So it’s not surprising to me that any or all of them meet privately to seek mutual validation.

  4. Can we trust Michael Arrington?  (AngelGate) (Derek Andersen) Says:

    [...] Andersen:Can we trust Michael Arrington?  (AngelGate)  —  Like everyone else I’ve been reading and watching Mike’s latest [...]

  5. Captain Obvious Says:

    It’s funny how nobody has considered that his ‘sources’ may have fed him false information in order to make him appear paranoid and uncredible. Now that would be ‘collusion’

  6. Merci Says:

    As an entrepreneur who took angel and VC funding (Bryce Roberts and OATV, Joi Ito, Richard Wolpert, and Shasta Ventures invested in my company GameLayers, Inc. which is now out of business; Bryce was present at the dinner), it’s hard for me to believe these allegations. I’ve pitched or met a lot of the people who were (or probably were) at the dinner. Frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine that these guys could all agree on anything, much less something as dangerous as the allegations that Arrington has made.

    Especially someone like Bryce, who represents the VC arm of the very morally on-point Oreilly Media, has invested in ideas and businesses that are about the freedom of the web and open-ness of information. Before joining OATV, Bryce founded and sold an open-source conference.

    (I do love that you’ve amassed this data, though! Really cool to see where Arrington has been correct.)

    Just my two cents.

    • MBZastava Says:

      You do realize Mike’s original report did in fact quantify his sources from that meeting.

      “those who were not comfortable with where the conversation was heading…”

      this would include your Bryce.

      • Merci Says:

        If Bryce were the source I doubt he would have outed himself on Twitter agreeing with Dave’s original blogpost response…

  7. statsmuch Says:

    Nice that you left off all his wrong predictions. A baseball team sounds good when you say it has 50 wins this season. But when you add in that it has 100 losses too… not so much.

    Remember this gem?

    100% off the mark. Terrible journalism.

    All that being said, he’s probably mostly on the mark on angelgate.

    • Derek Andersen Says:

      Added it to the list as unconfirmed. Link me to his 100 losses since April and I’ll include them as well. There aren’t many. Someone should go back a couple of years with all the major tech journalists and start keeping score on how their ‘sources’ panned out. I believe Mike would be at the top of the list.

  8. statsmuch Says:



    (unconfirmed as of 1 year)

    and the list goes on. I’ll let you do your own work from now on. hopefully a little better next time instead of this link bait silliness.

  9. Brant Cooper Says:

    Math looks spot on. That is, if you accept the premise that this issue is “black and white.” Nothing in this world is “black and white.”

  10. Ryan Holiday Says:

    You’re looking at the wrong metric. It’s not whether his sources are typically accurate but whether he is generally good at correctly inferring from vague or uncertain evidence. In my experience, analysis is unquestionably the weakest part of TechCrunch. They aren’t bad at getting the facts but when it comes to telling us what those facts mean the wheels come off.

    If you’re looking to confirm that the people were all in a room together than I guess your little breakdown works. If you’re looking to to see if it adds up to collusion or some Valley equivalent to The Council there are some other factors to weigh.

  11. Jwon Says:

    If you or MA thinks any 10 guys, no matter how hard they try, can control the future of silicon valley startups and how they get funded, you dont understand silicon valley or startups.

  12. Jon Says:

    Let’s go back to what Chris said earlier… “Arrington’s financial incentive to lie isn’t nearly as strong.”

    Follow the money. Why would Arrington lie, especially about something this big, when *if* he were lying and *if* he were to be found out, the entire Internet would crawl up his butt about it. Ad revenues drop, readership drops, etc. No, for me, I tend to believe it’s true; at least to a degree.

  13. Hagrin Says:

    Wait, wait, wait.

    Re: #1 – How can you say “appears to” and give that a +1 as opposed to unconfirmed considering the court case is still pending? That’s like saying after 6 innings the team winning 3-2 has won the game.

    Second, how do you not have the “Facebook is building a phone” on that list? Pretty big oversight for someone trying to make a list of his recent predictions to which Facebook not only said he was wrong, but then gave him an exclusive interview to try and mend fences, yet still said he was wrong.

    The Google offers to keep employees from fleeing to Facebook is also not on this list and his “confirmation” from an ex-Googler seems to be nothing more than a 1 line ambiguous statement. It’s at least an unconfirmed when discussing the amounts of these offers.

    I’d keep going, but honestly I’ve wasted enough time on Arrington tonight. Fact remains the list up top is not complete at best and misleading at worst.

  14. Scott Says:


    It doesn’t matter if they could or could not “control the future of silicon valley startups and how they get funded”. If they worked together to keep others out of the industry or to artificially fix prices, it’s illegal collusion.

  15. Mike Assholington Says:

    Arrington is a complete scum bag. Do some research on the piece of s***.

  16. beltramo Says:

    As is so often the case, you can often learn more about people from the chatter surrounding an event than the initial reporting on the event itself.

    I for one admire Dave McClure for the great individuality and transparency that he is displaying in these opening hours of the scandal. Ignoring the lemming-like H8-UZZZ who sheepishly mutter that there’s nothing more pathetic than a bald, middle-aged white guy thinking heez a gangsta, McClure has shown us that THEREZ NUTHIN MORE STREET than a bald, middle-aged white guy who thinks heez a gangsta!

    Also, in a snooty industry whose minions furtively duck in and out of casting rooms in hopes that no one will find out about their secret dreams, McClure has courageously submitted his application to join the cast for the third season The Jersey Shore by blog, for all to see…

  17. Ian Betteridge Says:

    If Arrington is confident of his source AND his accusation that this meeting was about illegal collusion, then why doesn’t he name names?

    There’s only possible two answers: He’s either inferring collusion on the basis of evidence which couldn’t be defended in court, which in the American legal system amounts to him having deliberately made things up to damage someone.

    Or these guys are his friends and sources and he is more concerned with maintaining them as friends and sources than exposing illegal action.

    A real journalist wouldn’t pussy around with a story like this without naming names. But then a real journalist wouldn’t be so far up the VC community’s ass that he’d need to worry about what his “friends” might think.

  18. #ANGELGATE : pas de différence entre les investisseurs de la Silicon Valley et la mafia Says:

    [...] surtout comme il considère toutes les personnes concernées comme des amis. De plus, si on regarde l’historique des articles publiés par Michael Arrington, il a presque toujours publié les bonnes informations. [...]

  19. Can we trust Michael Arrington?  (AngelGate) (Derek Andersen) Says:

    [...] we trust Michael Arrington?  (AngelGate) (Derek Andersen) Derek Andersen:Can we trust Michael Arrington?  (AngelGate)  —  Like everyone else I’ve been reading and watching Mike’s latest [...]

  20. Bob Says:

    If you hand pick all the correct predictions I’ve made and throw in a spattering of the incorrect ones, I sound like a genius too. This isn’t a complete list.

  21. Piter Says:

    I don’t know. I mean money talks and he spends a lot of time with a lot of people who have a whole lot of money. I can only imagine how much money he has been offered to say certain things. And his voice can definitely sway a large amount of people

  22. Piter Says:

    It’s got to be tough for Angels to collude, but they’re an enterprising bunch and might be able to pull it off. The most prominent Angels are few enough in number that it’s not impossible that they’re tilting things their way on big deals.

    Arrington doesn’t have the same financial incentive to lie about this. Sure he’ll get more hits… but would he really risk his credibility for that kind of traffic? If the Angels succeed in colluding, they’ll cheat founders out of millions of dollars for every degree they tilt the scale their direction.

  23. Serra Says:

    I’ve come to the opinion that anything Arrington writes needs a second source, otherwise, it’s BS

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