Sam Sethi in hotwater once again

Blognation UK Launch

So I'm late to all this because I was tied up with meetings all day for reasons which will come out soon. But Sam Sethi of Blognation is in trouble again. I only heard about it from John tonight at the girl geekdinner christmas party (good party, shame I came late and didnt win the xbox 360, specially after the previous blog entry). And yes John was right, its now across many blogs and its become a real meal of a story now.

I don't usually read the over gossip driven valleywag but they have a decent summary.

In short, Starr charges, Sethi hasn't funded BlogNation, can't pay his contributors, lies to the press and his employees, and will have a hard time raising funding because he is a liar, not a CEO. Imagine that: Oliver Starr, burning bridges?

In this case, no one wins but Arrington. Never one to shy from a nerdfight, the prickly blog impresario has had a running feud with his former coworkers. If BlogNation ceases to exist, they'll be missed — if only for the entertaining feud.

There right about Arrington winning. Blognation was a good idea and actually had legs. Now I don't know Oliver Starr that well but when I read what Nicole Simon had to say, I was disappointed. Nicole is a very straight down the line kind of person, a person who I certainly trust and it sounds like she was getting a bit of a run around too.

Although I believed 100% that my hiatus would just be a temporary thing until payment would be in and then I would go back and continue working, it becomes now clear to me that this is unlikely to happen. I assume that I will find my postings deleted as are Oliver's soon, but of course I do have backups as well as documentation of posted items. Just because I am trusting other people does not mean that I am stupid.

No Nicole your not stupid, even Sam asked me to write on blognation at one point. (Imagine that, dyslexic writer?)

Anyway Sam did briefly reply on Techcrunch and Twitter saying Techcrunch isn't as clean as they may think. I'm sure Sam will more to say about this all soon, maybe via Jemima Kiss this time around? then maybe get back to unbalancing the mighty grip arrington has over this area of the startup business?

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Le Web 3: Reactions comic and a letter to Arrington

Tom Morris does it again… Funny and ever-so true. Who says there's no room for another valleywag? Hey and why not comic form instead of text?

Cartoon depicting the reaction to Le Web 3

See my Flickr post for original.

in An open letter to Mike Arrington Mike Butcher outlines his thoughts behind the troubles at TechCrunch UK as co-editor.

You asked my colleague and co-editor Sam Sethi to remove the comment in what appeared to be a personal favour to Le Meur (given TechCrunch had no contractual or financial involvement in Le Web 3) and any other comments referring to Le Meur's comment.

By this stage that was going to be hard. A lot of people had now captured Le Meur's explosive comment and commented on it themselves, not just on TechCrunch UK but on their own blogs.

What were we going to do? Delete the whole web?

The bit I find most interesting is this part.

As regards the TechCrunch UK events. I understand you are a busy man, but the ideas about events we have promoted on TCUK for weeks now should not have come as a surprise to you. This was an attempt to build the business here not just as a franchise in the UK but it also would have benefited the TechCrunch US brand, obviously. Sam wasn't doing it to “futher his own business interests” [sic.] as you say in CrunchNotes. You own the brand. We don't.

Again, on Crunchnotes you say our event plans “were not specifically approved.” Well, a) this was supposed to be a franchise operation, not two employees with you as line manager and b) there are a lot of things we have done to make TCUK successful and until now you didn't seem to object to other public announcements about events (or even communicate at all about them, I might add. We thought you trusted us to get on with the job, and we did, but our email inbox from you about anything we were doing is pretty bare).

I also disagree with you in your view that it is unethical to criticise a competitor event, when it has already been trashed far more roundly by others. I would say it is far more unethical to ignore the sentiment of one's readers – who's views are plain to see – and whitewash one's editorial coverage, than massage it into a limp, inaccurate article for the sake of a favour. In this case a favour to a conference organiser.

Sam's last and final post (again, captured by bloggers) was just an attempt to say he was leaving, given that he had been summarily dismissed by you (can you dismiss a franchisee?) with wafer-thin due process. After such an immediate firing, I think you owed him that last opportunity.

But you removed that post as well.

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Very interesting and good to hear Mikes views on all of this.

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Sam Sethi just got fired for comments on Loic at Le Web 3

Fresh from Twitter - sam fired 7mins ago

There's nothing faster that Twitter on these things. I'm really seeing the value in Twitter recently. But to the issue in hand. Yeah I heard all about Le web 3 conference and the crazyness which was going on there. Tom Morris has a post which summaries the feeling across the blogosphere regarding The web 3. Its all split up so I'm going to rip most of it directly

There are downloadable (WMV) videos of many of the sessions so far. Judge for yourself. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This story has hit TechMemePermanent link to this item in the archive.

Blipverts: “A PR coup for Six Apart in the French press I'm sure, Canal+ even had an outside broadcasting unit set up by the time I entered the centre this morning, but for the international Bloggers who paid to be here it's the final straw. Le Web isn't an international or European blogging conference, it's a standard trade show event which pandered to French political interests.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Graham Holliday: “Personally, I feel the conference has had the life sucked out of it by the egoism and ambition of certain individuals running the show and those hopping on the conference bike for a free publicity ride.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Robin Hamman: “Unlike Le Meur, and apparently oblivious to him, those guys from Belgium and a lot of other people sitting where I am haven't managed to crack a smile all day.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Tom Raftery: “What really annoyed everyone was the fact that the conference was completely hijacked and changed from a conference about new web technologies into a presidential campaign for the next French election. Two of the candidates, Nikolas Sarkozy and Fran�ois Bayrou were parachuted in to the conference schedule at the last minute, displacing other speakers.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Nicole Simon: “If you have an audience like this and a standing like this in Europe for this conference you invest some time in making the the program. This obviously has not happened. Which is why i have an amount of political content i never wanted to see nor wanted to attend and everything else got pushed aside because of that – without me having really a choice through this… Loic Lemeur has sold out his european peer group for some cheap headlines in french politics – if at all. He has destroyed trust and confidence in a way I have never seen this before.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Alex Papanastassiou: “we basically lost energy and momentum because some bunch of French politicians wanted to do themselves some public relations and build an image of modernity. If they are modern they ought to go for conversations, not top-down broadcasts of official truths and by the way accept questions for the audience, Mr Sarkozy” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Adam Fletcher: “Theres a lot of negativity around le web today, the conference room is half empty and people seem more than a little disgruntled”. Also: “So alot of time is wasted pimping the panelists companies rather than engaging in discussion”. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Weinberger (who speaks later) on Sarkozy: “I feel like i've been lectured by a guy who has no actual understanding of the Internet.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Shane Richmond: “On the other hand there are plenty of people here who see today's appearances as a cynical political exercise that has derailed the conference. Loic's employers, Six Apart, apparently make a lot of their money in France selling blogs to politicians so perhaps there is an explanation in there somewhere… Many delegates are angry that, having spent a lot of money to come here and talk about the web, they are watching political broadcasts instead” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Dieter Rappold: “I am disapointed. I am disappointed of you, this conference and I will never attend LesBlogs/LeWeb anymore – But as I imagine you won't give a damn, as you don't give a damn about your audience as it seems.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

James Higgs: “In theory, Le Web 3 was supposed to be a place for the people on the bleeding edge of European Web 2.0 innovation to come together and discuss the way ahead. Instead, it has turned into a parade of politicians, product anouncements and a complete lack of any type of disagreement or debate… Despite all this negativity, there has been one big positive. I must say that the food has been extremely impressive.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Sam Sethi: “The speakers are all saying the same old thing and nothing new… Overall the event feels like it has run its course just like the Web 2.0 conference earlier this year. Le Web 4 will be a hard sell, certainly as far as I am concerned” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Peter Forret: “I did not pay over Euro 600 to come and listen to self-involved French politicians talk about why they want to run for president” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Ivan Pope: “I don't know how much rumbling of discontent there's been – but frankly I didn't pay my conference fee to be pitched by politicians. I think the organisers should put their egos away and resist the blandishments of all politicians”. And more: “Same old same old. Same old stories, same old corporate speakers. And same old friends of the organisers. It's like a love-in for a closed circle, with no fresh thinking or any challenge to the status quo.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Adam Tinworth: “Here we go, another session about the death of Old Media, with four new media types and a single old media chap as the chair. And precious little revealing content.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Stephanie Booth on Twitter: “I wonder what on earth is going to happen to LeWeb3's program now that politicians and the mainstream press have taken over.” Permanent link to this item in the archive.

webpronews thinks Dmoz is dead (via Stephen Cohen). You guys all know what the solutions to thi sare, right? It needs to be turned over to a more competitive model. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jim Moore has a post on Harvard, OPML and Dave's stint at Berkman. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Robert Andrews has more coverage from Le Web 3. Permanent link to this item in the archive.


So once again bullshit gets called on le web/le blogs. Ben has a nice cover of the event too. So what do I think. Well no matter what you say about Sam Sethi, he's always a man in the room and in the crowd. He was perfect for TechCrunch UK. His style in writing was a little brash but it worked well when reviewing startups and services. Mike Arrington has got to be nuts letting him go for calling Loic a arsehole or was actually that Sam walked? Geez we need a Londonwag blog.

John just sent me an update on whats been going on. Mike Arrington writes in Putting TechCrunch UK On Hold, that everything was tollerable till Sam annouced something which was not discussed or approved.

Even though I think at that point Sam had reached the limits of acceptable editorial discretion, it still would not have necessarily resulted in him having to leave TechCrunch. The actions that finally resulted in his dismissal were additional comments he wrote on that second post, announcing “that TechCrunch UK will be doing a series of seminars and a conference next year as well as a series of smaller meetings in conjunction with friends & partners which have been in the planning for sometime now.”

These events were not discussed with me, and certainly were not approved. The fact that he announced and promoted them while trashing a competing event was a clear conflict of interest and was not appropriate. I do not consider this to be ethical behavior.

None of this had to be aired publicly, but Sam chose to write a final post on the blog after he was terminated stating incorrectly that he was being terminated because of the original post. He has also written publicly that he was terminated because he would not comply with my demand to delete a post. That is not accurate. This is driven entirely from Sam’s ethical lapse in trashing a competitor while simultaneously promoting his own events. That’s not acceptable – readers will not be able to determine if he actually believed what he wrote about the conference, or rather exaggerated his opinions to futher his own business interests.

Basic ethical behavior is not subjective. We will not associate with individuals who choose to cross the line.

The blog is on hold until we determine if/when we will hire another editor and continue writing.

I'm sorry but something still seems wrong. Either way, I'm sick of this, we need a techcrunch uk which is based in the uk and has the uk landscape in mind. John made a point that maybe the BBC should do this? I mean its certainly fitting with our public values. I'm not sure how blanaced we could but it certainly could put us back in the new media running. End of the day, I'm not keen on the fact that TechCrunchUK is now on hold, a major uk publication on hold because some american guy decides it. I'm not saying Mike's in over his head or anything, but you can imagine people are saying that Mike has snapped.

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