Full disclosure, I intended to comment about this past Friday's BizTechDay 2010. There was applicable public relations advice that was related to an audience of entrepreneurs by HARO's Peter Shankman and Fox & Friend's Clayton Morris on engaging media through relevant content. However, the West Coast has come-a-knockin'.
In the year that gave us BP's Gulf oil spill and the presumed end of the prolonged healthcare reform battle, my mind is tingling over the newest finger-pointing saga that has been unfolding among venture capitalists and "super angels" in Silicon Valley. Thank you Mr. Arrington!
In case you missed it, like Monk on a hunch, TechCrunch's Michael Arrington walked into a restaurant to find a who's who of angel investors from Silicon Valley engaged in what he reported as potential collusion and price fixing. For anyone familiar with how startup businesses get funding, there are two main scenarios:
1. Venture capital firm (company) will invest in a growing business.
2. Affluent angels (individuals) invest their own money in startups.
There has also been the emergence of a hybrid, termed "super angels." These individuals seem to have professionalized their practice and show some similarities to full-time venture capitalists. In this instance it appears that the ethical pursuits of these decision makers are misaligned with the entrepreneurs they patronize in the name of capitalism. There have been "colorful" denials from those present that evening, and it appears that Mr. Arrington is looking to play nice in the sandbox. At TechCrunch's Disrupt conference (in San Francisco) Ron Conway, Dave McClure, Chris Sacca and M. Arrington chose to hold hands and perform a rendition of "Lean on Me," with Sacca declaring "the episode as a 'misunderstanding' that was 'worth getting past.'" For the record, with the amount of moral conviction with which M. Arrington wrote about the clandestine meeting, a Jerry Springer moment would not have gone unappreciated. Surely there's more to come?
Now, why does this have anything to do with the public-relations industry? For starters, the fact is that "AngelGate" is anything but good PR for the Silicon Valley technology industry. These titans of business technology would rather the conversation center around valuations and "seed" money. Super Angels rely on positive media coverage incorporating buzz words and talking about growth opportunities, but instead we're out there talking about how they wanted to fix valuations and stunt growth for their competitors. It's baffling to me how persons of their tech savvy pedigree would engage in continuing the conversation of what "didn't happen" via e-mails, because those are clearly never made public (see: Goldman Sachs).
At the Interactive Advertising Bureau 's MIXX event in New York City, Seth Godin said "There is too much clutter... because we've branded ourselves to death." As it relates to the AngelGate -- super angels, personal brand and reputation are indispensable for those involved. They're currently in crisis management mode, attempting to quickly recover and return to "business as usual." This was exemplified by their unified front during Disrupt's panel this week. I'm curious to know whether AngelGate will lead to any repercussions in regards to their business prospects or even, as Mr. Arrington suggests, potential legal consequences. Do you think this is Much Ado About Nothing or do you think there's more to be written?
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