Ethical feud splits Silicon Valley pundits down VC fault lines


Newsweek’s Dan Lyons took aim and fired at CrunchFund yesterday, exposing unresolved issues about journalism, ethics and the nature of influence in the Silicon Valley tech world.

In an inflammatory blog post, Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool, Lyons waged war on the early stage venture capital firm founded by TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington and MG Siegler, and critiqued former tech bloggers who use their influence to make “gobs of money” through investment in early stage startups.

Many prominent tech journalists have subsequently taken sides. Quentin Hardy, deputy tech editor at The New York Times; and Kara Swisher, co-executive editor of AllThingsd, both issued positive commentary on Lyons’ post.

The controversy was initially sparked last week when Nick Bilton criticized the social networking startup Path, which had uploaded users’ address books from their iPhones. Siegler published a response on his personal blog, stating that Bilton was “way off base,” and critiqued tech journalists for publishing stories with “little or no research.”

In defense of Bilton, Lyons made the claim that Siegler and Arrington had attempted to discredit the New York Times’ reporter in order to safeguard the reputation of Path, a portfolio company.

In an attempt to settle the debate, Arrington defended Siegler on his blog, Uncrunched, and called for an armistice in battle of the bloggers. “Most journalists don’t like other journalists much, but when the whole group is attacked as a whole they galvanize quickly.”

As the dust settles, unresolved questions about the future of tech blogs will remain. The vestiges of the battle still wage on Twitter; some users have firmly taken sides, while others call for the implementation of hard and fast ethics in journalism. Where do you stand?