Japanese VC and tech socialite Joi Ito [ Hates reading books - Lunch - Lunch - Segway - Lunch - Lunch - Fawning Parody - World Blogging Forum!]) has spent months hyping the couple who started the Movable Type weblogging software Ben and Mena [buys banjo]Trott. The cute, but strangely synthetic twosome were showered with advanced publicity in the form of flights and lunches and "party games" (the latter is filed under "Humor / Leadership and Entrepreneurship" ), before Ito's company invested in Movable Type last week.

Will we be able to trust Ito's ongoing research analysis about his investment?

We shall see.

Just to clarify the facts and my position...

I think I have made it clear that I am a VC interesting in investing in this space. I will continue to invest in companies. I find companies by meeting people doing cool things. I blog about the cool people I meeting. I hope I will end up investing in some of these companies.

With Six Apart, I have moved from user to acquaintance (lunch) to "Hirata wrote a Japanese language kit for Movable Type and we'd like you to meet the Japanese MT community" to investor. We were already heavy users of MT and consulting to companies about using MT before we were in serious negotiations about investment.

I think this will be a standard process. 1) Find product/blog it, 2) lunch/blog it, 3) possibly invite to Japan/blog it, 4) be quiet for awhile, 5) invest/announce. Some steps may be skipped or out of order. Not investing doesn't mean it's not a good product or a good person. Many reasons for not investing. Valuation, structure, business plan, other investors, etc.

Ethically speaking... I will plug whole-heartedly any product/person I like. If I have a relationship, I disclose it. The only time I won't talk about something is if I am in negotiations with someone since there is usually an NDA. The notion that blogging about lunch with Ben and Mena or blogging about Mena's mastery of the cork trick, was them being "showered with advanced publicity" is frankly a pile of crap as anyone who knows me should know.

At this point I am incentivized to help Ben and Mena succeed. So of course, I will work hard to promote them, it would be strange if I didn't. I think that the success of blogging has come from open standards and an open dialog about the standards. I think it is essential for the tool builders to have healthy competition, but for everything to work together. I'm constantly talking to Dave, Ev, Jason and anyone else in the space. I really don't see how the investment lessens my commitment to talking to everyone and sharing. In fact, I think that now that I have my money where my mouth is and it should increase my commitment to blogging generally.

As Dave said in an email, I'm now in the pool with him. ;-) Oh and by the way, I don't think I was ever providing anything as lofty as "research analysis". I have a point of view. I solicit feedback and I put my money where my mouth is. I do not try to pretend to be objective. I am a VERY subject human being. Investing in the people who make the tool that I spend more time with than anything else in my life right now seems like a reasonable thing to do.

So one more time... I get excited about something, blog about it, then decide to invest. Not the other way around.

Thanks for the link Marc!

40 Comments

Whoa, what is Orlowski's problem, anyone have an idea why he's got such an irrational hatred for blogs in general and Joi in particular? Seems to be taking the success of blogs really personally.

Not to mention his whole example is just wrong economically. Hyping a product before you buy makes no sense, if it does anything it will increase the purchase price... All the iBanks Spitzer is suing were telling the public to buy AFTER they had bought the share, and right before they sold them. Totally opposite of what Joi is doing.

Think this is the last time I pay attention to anything Orlowski says, he's lost all credibility in my book.

Good point William. It makes no sense to hype something before you've closed a deal since it drives the valuation up. It also makes very little sense to not announce a deal immediately since information leaks so quickly these days.

You tell um Joi. Anybody who doesn't know the difference between Tonkatsu and Donburi knows that they have to go to Japan to find out.

How else can you spread the blogging meme - without visting Tokyo? Or learning cork tricks?

Re: "Whoa, what is Orlowski's problem, anyone have an idea why he's got such an irrational hatred for blogs in general and Joi in particular? Seems to be taking the success of blogs really personally."

That's a big jump. He's critical of weblogs, but that doesn't mean he is irrational or has hatred for blogs or Joi. People have to be able to criticize without having their intentions called into question. Joi has addressed the issues, and that's all that's needed, and he did so without personally attacking Orlowski. That's the way criticism should be handled. Watch out for people who have to resort to this kind of logic to make their point. I have to deal with it all the time, and it wastes huge amounts of time and is humiliating. I'm sure Andrew is honorable, and someone can be mistaken without hating. Save the silver bullets for people who really spread hate.

Dave, I'm not sure you'll find a better example of bizarre and misplaced ad hominem attacks than some of the earlier things Orlowski's written regarding our man Joi, e.g. http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/30087.html

This is a sterling examplar of someone "who really spread[s] hate" in preference to reasoned critique, in my book. He's single-handedly demolishing whatever credibility the Register has, and it appears to be escalating.

I guess in these troubled times, people are only supposed to invest in cold, boring technologies like middleware and databases...

Fsck that noise.
Do what you love and love what you do.

Casting aside the implication that MT has anything to do with WiFi as the article seems to, Ben and Mena have made a great product.
(Show me another product where the "consumers" have truly become a *community* like MT...)
With TypePad, it goes beyond being just another nifty web app into being a service that people will want to use and maybe even pay for.

I don't see the problem.
I'd guess it's going to make a bit of money, which is, after all, the point of investing, isn't it?

Can it really be called "Hype" if its basis is sincere, genuine enthusiasm and belief in a product that you use heavily every day?

Sorry for the rant. Just quit smoking...

I gave up on The Reg about a year ago. Orlovski, while he may be widely read, is hardly a writer in whom I place much trust. Not to sound like anyone's fanboy, but Joi could do much worse than attract that sort of loon as a critic.

Actually, there is a real problem here.

When you write an article in a newspaper, you are not supposed to have an undisclosed economic incentive in doing so. If on the other hand you are paying for an advertisement, you need to make it clear to every reader that this is not edited newspaper content but paid for.

At some point in the development of blogging, there needs to be a discussion how to handle this question. The rules don't seem to be in place yet as firmly as in traditional media.

As a general rule, I would think it is fair to disclose any personal economic motive, for example as Dave Winer did when he wrote about the Movable Type funding by Neoteny on his blog ("Disclaimer: I remain a large shareholder in UserLand and am an active user of its products and enthusiastic developer in the UserLand environment."). And Joi Ito seems to agree with this simple rule in his post above, where he says that he will disclose any relationships.

This however obviously does not require to disclose economic motives you might possibly have some time in the future. If that would be necessary, Joi Ito would probably need to write more disclaimers than content, since most of the stuff he's interested in and writes about here could potentially come up for an investment decision some time later on.

When my Japanese wife and I met and where dating, most Japanese consumers had been slow in moving on-line. PC's were not in the homes at the time and she was shocked when she figured out I had 3 PC's in my home. The explosion of the Net in the United States we knew the Japanese market would grow but the market angle would be different.

Once we were married, I had to nearly pull teeth to get my wife's father to get on-line. To this day he has yet to embrace technology fully and I am afraid this is part of the reason for stagnation of growth in several of his companies.

As we had concluded the Net potential in Japan was large and set out to launch several net related business's and at the time and worked hard to fund the business model we had in mind. That was 6 years ago and although we were not successful in launching what we know would have been a booming business today we learned some valuable lessons.

Coincidentally many of the bankers and companies we approached when we were trying to raise money have kept in touch and one pointed comment we received on a traditional New Years 2002 company greeting card. Nearly contained a apology but these word struck me the most. If we had not been so blind we would all be Rich.

This struck us both with amazement as this is not a typical comment on a New Years greeting card.

As a successful American married to a successful Japanese Women we determined that the majority of our problem in generating revenues was that companies would have been comfortable if I had been Japanese and we probably would have had bags of Investment cash but most companies/bankers could never get over the fact that a husband and wife partnership could work. Let alone that the I the male was an American. Business is tough in Japan and getting your foot in the door through custom and culture is even tougher.

It is refreshing that you became involved with Ben and Mena. This has in a sense revitalized some things we had tried to do in the past and we have decided that maybe the timing is right to try again. But this time I take American investment dollars into Japan versus trying to overcome the barriers of the culture.

I wish you much success in your venture. If you are ever in Hawaii drop us a line we would love to meet you and your lovely wife.

Aw, c'mon guys, this is an awful lot of hand-wringing over a guy who's just being a troll. Look at his comments on Etech, which were so fanciful as to be absurd. (Any conference where you can walk up, pay your money, and say your piece isn't "closed", regardless of how evil you think Shirky is.)


Don't feed the trolls, just ignore him and he'll pick on someone else more likely to squawk.

Joi, I appreciate your openness about your motivation to invest in Six Apart. Your public diary of an active VC is a good case study for everybody to watch about how to find and select investments and how to push them to insanely great publicity and richness. How can a VC be objective anyway if they have millions of bugs in the game and want to make even more millions?

I am personally interested in the business model of Six Apart or Blogger.com that made you invest in the company. How are they making money today and in the near future? Moreover, I believe the barriers of entry are really small and I assume the blogging industry to be a very fast industry.

The blogging phenomenon is really a personal publishing revolution and thanks to linking and trackbacking quality blogs will attract most users. I am actually researcing a story for mobiliser.org about the business model and market potential of multi-channel (including mobile) blogging. So any insights, comments or links are appreciated very much. Are you actually publishing and reading blogs from your mobile devices (PDA, keitai, Laptop) as of today?

I'm with Anil. Nothing happening here, move along...

(I also avoid feeding the "blogs=revolutionary technology" beast... most of us here get the value of the technology, but hyping it to that extent is like doctoring the kool aid...)

Adam, sorry I don't see the hate in that piece. Maybe I'm jaded, I've seen much worse. To me it looks like Andrew is expressing an opinion. The opinion is not favorable to Joi, or Jim Moore, or in a side-swiping way, me. That's his right. I've criticized Andrew in a way he didn't like once, and he really took me to the mat, I find it ironic that he writes such unsubstantiated stuff, but it isn't hateful. He probably believes it.

The register article seems well meaning in its general attempt to warn of the dangers of hype. Kinda pisses me off that the article singled out Joi as some kind of hype monger, though. Enthusiasm is a great thing and I wonder if it doesn't sometimes engender jealousy from others.

Actually Anil you can't ignore integrity challenges, otherwise they stand. It helps if other honorable vested people to support you. This is something we've been very bad at in the weblog world. Very few people invest anything, so they can be as nutty as they want, but now that there's been more investment (you're invested now, for example) we may actually get somewhere.

When your users trash my product, how do you feel about that? Do you stand by and do nothing? It's pretty rare if it ever happens that a UserLand customer trashes someone else for using a competitive product, and if it ever happened I guarantee you that UserLand would be all over them like a ton of bricks. Yet I see Movable Type users do exactly that without comment from the vendor. Makes me wonder how you guys feel about it.

Do you want to compete on the basis of flames and integrity attacks? If not, try to let your users know that you don't welcome it.

Orlowski's drive by was utter and complete tripe. It was nice of you to clarify things, but I don't think it was really necessary, because his swerve from talking about stock analysts who theoretically have a duty to be independent to a venture capitalist who has a duty to maximize the value of their investment was nonsensical.

To respond to the post that precedes mine, why should the Movable Type guys take any sort of stance on what their users write? Do you expect Microsoft to issue a press release if their users write anti-Linux Web pages using FrontPage or Word? I realize that the weblog community is a much smaller fishbowl, but I don't see why the MT guys should bother to police their users. That sets a dangerous precedent.

Dave, I have to say I completely agree with Rafe on this. Ben and Mena are only responsible for the words that fall from their lips (or keyboards). I fail to see that they bear any responsibility for the words or actions of a heterogeneous group of people whose only point of commonality is that they happen to use MT.

Is Bill Ford responsible for removing peeing-Calvin stickers from every F150 in the land? I think not.

At the risk of becoming flame bait for UK natives, I would like to point out the fact that UK journos "are famous" for their unnecessary snark. When it come to reading U.S. news versus UK news, I prefer UK world news 9 out of 10 times (and I'm a U.S. citizen), but I have come to "expect" UK journalists to add a bit of snark to their reports (whatever the topic). Sometimes it's entertaining, sometimes it's on the money, and sometimes it's misplaced. I think that's what happened here. That, or he's just jealous that Joi is the international man of mystery that he wishes he could be. ;^)

Orlowski recently slammed the ETech conference leaders as being cultists -- Tim O'Reilly responded and the running joke became that everyone had their own cult a ETech.


Obviously Orlowski has an axe to grind with the blogging community -- but does he have to make such an ass of himself?

Hi Joi,

I think your investment in Six Apart is wise no matter what the motivation for doing so. Even a foll can recognize the huge oppurtunities in companies producing newer, better blogging tools.

Besides, since when does an investor have to be entirely objective? Over the years, I have pesonally invested time, energy and money in a wide variety of projects created by my friends and people I like on a personal level. As much as the technology itself, I want them and their vision to succeed as well.

Interesting. I have a different intuition on this. I don't want anyone speaking on my behalf with a lack of respect, because that reflects back on me, whether I like it or not. If a user of my product was bad-mouthing a competitor's product I would object without hesitation. Perhaps it depends on how much empathy you have and how much self-respect. I want to win because my my product is the best, not because my users are the nastiest. Anyway, if anyone attacks the integrity of the Movable Type people (not just Ben and Mena anymore) or Evan or Meg or Google, I'll say they better check their facts again.

BTW, it's been really interesting to see how much cooperation there is between Harvard, MIT and Stanford in the area where I work, even though we all compete. In the big picture though, we all tend to be on the same side. Same thing with UserLand and SixApart. If the market grows they both will grow and our shareholders profit. If the competition is destructive, they don't grow and someone else who manages to rise above the destructive compeition profits. In other words, there's a pragmatic reason to be kind to your competitor.

Sorry for the ramble.

I think that when an industry reporter -- even a goofball like Orlowksi -- makes nasty little comments like this, the target -- Joi, in this case -- has to answer them. It's a question of professional integrity.

And Joi has done so, clearly and correctly. It makes Orlowski look like a troll.

What the hell's wrong with this guy, anyway? Aren't there better targets for his bullshit than people who are trying to make the world a more interesting place? He's rapidly becoming the Ann Coulter of the tech industry.

I, on the other hand, am rapidly becoming the Lester Bangs of the tech world. Maybe we can arrange a nerd journalist cage match.

Once again, the groupthink exhibited in the Blogosphere completely clouds sound reasoning. They point of Andrew’s piece being that “true believer” ideas and the collusion between investors/analysts to hype worthless investments contributes to a synthetic market, that is wholly at odds with reality. And instead of digging into the substance, all that is offered is all the “Blog power to answer back” and “Andrew is a unsubstantiated troll and a typical UK journalist” as a defense. And Joi’s “you can trust me, I blog first before investing” and “be quiet for awhile” defense strikes one so very much of Henry Blodget. Hey, I wasn’t hyping, I was merely having a “conversation with”. And oh, my true timeline is known only to me, but you can trust me, I blog first, yes, trust me, trust me. It is exactly this style of thinking that granted us the Bubble. Amazes me, how after all of past history, people trudge on like nothing ever happened. And at what point does Enthusiasm become Hype? Hey, the Buzz is back, right? And now the only debate is over whether “MT guys should bother to police their users”?

Andrew was dead-on. And everyone still is all “don’t mess with my party.” Given the lack of critical thinking, cult-of-personality and band-aid “conversations”, the complete misunderstanding of markets, and “true believer” concepts, bust is a given. Will be fun to watch. Blog on, see no evil.

Anil Dash “Head of Marketing and Business Development” calling a journalist (or a even opinion columnist) who MILLIONS read “trolls” and “absurd”? Sounds like he has a lot to learn about something called Marketing.

Steve, imho you have a valid point. I expressed this to Joi privately, albeit a little more sedately. I wanted to know at what point he became a competitor, because we had had confidential discussions, and the first I heard of the investment was when it was publicly announced. Was I unintentionally and unknowingly helping a competitor? This happened once before with O'Reilly, and when I raised the issue Tim mocked me. I knew then that we were in for a few rough years in weblog-land, but now Tim is out of the pool and Joi is in. Are we doing better? I hope so.

Dave, I know that I've told you privately, and I'll be glad to repeat publicly that I respect your accomplishments and contributions, not just in the weblog realm, but in software as a whole, going back since I was a kid just starting to understand computers. And you've been extremely generous in promoting the industry and in defining standards and protocols and tools for people to use.

That being said, I absolutely am not going to try to be responsible for people who use the tools. I know there have been horrible, hateful things said by users of every web publishing tool that exists. And not just maligning people's software choices (can you imagine how much blog space has been wasted on platform wars?) but Klan members on BlogSpot or MT users who are bigots. I'm sure they're out there and they've just been beneath our radar.

So calling them out on it makes me be a censor and an arbiter of community standards, instead of someone trying to make tools for people to express themselves. And I'm only good at the latter part, not the former. So I'm not gonna do it. Just like you, I'm hoping the market for weblog tools gets so big that there's no reasonable way we *could* police what all our users say.

When anybody trashes someone else's honest effort, I'm disappointed. But maybe (call me an optimist!) it doesn't matter, because quality always wins out in the long term. You just can't bullshit people for very long. And by the same token, any honest grain of criticism within someone's attacks always surfaces eventually, and hopefully people can find the useful criticisms within someone's complaints.

On that note, Steve, bide your time for a few months, or a year, and see if you think we're hyping something useless then. There's already a few hundred thousand webloggers who know that this medium, and the excitement around it, isn't a bubble, isn't the hype of cultists, it's the confidence of people who know they've found something significant and important.

Ever seen something good and wanted to share it with the world? That's what I'm doing. Orlowski seems to be looking for some evil intent that just isn't there.

Anil, if you see people who use UserLand's tools beating up on Movable Type users will you *please* let me know asap. I've never seen it. I'd like to see what it looks like.

Steve, you have some valid points, but I suggest you do a bit more research into the Spitzer case before saying that "Andrew was dead on". From the way I see it he paints a pretty distorted picture of the case and more to the point his attempt to make an analogy between the NY case and Joi's situation is way off base.

Joi is a VC and he makes it pretty damn clear to the world that he is. He is not a research analyst and to the best of my knowledge never claimed to be. The investment banks/brokerages in the NY State lawsuit maintained that their research analysts were indepentent and impartial. Its now painfully obvious that they were not.

The practices that they were accused of have no relevence to Joi's case. He is a VC and his readers know it. Of course he's going to hype his investments, its part of his job to pick companies he believes in and to assist them in preforming well.

In the NY case, the research analysts were proporting to offer fair and balanced advice, when they were really just hyping their companies clients. That is unfair, misleading and illegal to a degree. More then that the analysts were often giving stocks "buy" ratings, when their firms were actually posed to sell. In other words they were selling a false bill of goods.

Like I mentioned before, Joi was talking up MT before he invested. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, that is what the analysts were claiming to be doing. There is nothing to gain economically from hyping something before you buy in, the hype can only increase the price.

All in all the firms in the NY State lawsuit were engaged is some seriously ethically challenged activities, while Joi has been totally in line. So for Orlowski to compare the two is pretty misleading and unfair.

I think I'm probably just getting thick-skinned these days, but Andrew's comments actually got a snicker out of me more than anger. I think this obsession with my lunches is actually funny and detracts from the point he is trying to make. I disagree with Steve in that I think hyping to make money and expressing your excitement sincerely are very different. If you're not excited, that's fine. I am. Bet against me. We'll see who wins.

As for the "when did we become competitors" business. This one is actually quite difficult. It is common practice to talk to everyone before decided who to go with. What I tried to do was to talk to everyone, not allow any information to "leak" between the discussions then stop talking when we began negotiating. I try not to solicit anything confidential, but I guess there is the "unintentionally and unknowningly helping a competitor" part. I'm not sure how to get around that. We really didn't let anyone know until the official annoucement and we announced the day we signed and until we signed, it wasn't done.

Also, there are a lot of things that I have talked about with many people who I will not share with the Six Apart team. I am an investor in and a supporter of Six Apart, but I am not an employee of Six Apart. None of my portfolio companies have access to the details of the other portfolio companies.

Dave, so the "unknowingly helped" part... I'm going to have to think about how to avoid making people feel this way in the future. I do think that net net/moving forward, we can make it work. I think that unfair criticism about any of the products is bad and I'm happy to work with you to keep the discussion fair. I DO feel a bit more responsible about what MT users say about Radio just because I think a fair playing field will help the companies work together better. I think it's also helpful if the users understand each of the systems so we can build the open standards power-base and not spin out of orbit. I think open standards help everyone here and my commitment to Six Apart is part of my commitment to open standards.

I'm not sure whether I need to answer Steve's assertion that I'm asking people to trust me... I'm telling you my process. You can decide whether you trust me or not.

Joi, I didn't say or mean to imply that I actually had unknowingly helped a competitior, just that the question came up, I think understandably, and that's why crisp communication and an appropriate level of trust are good things. I've been emailing privately with Anil, and sent you a private email earlier with an idea. I guess that says to everyone else that there are at least two channels here, one public, one not. I think this is a good thing, Andrew Orlowski is going to have to get used to it. His sources write publicly now. You don't have to be a professional journalist to write publicly. Welcome to the world of 2003. I've been doing it since 1994. Not exactly a new concept.

As a Radio user - I wanna say that I LOVE MT. So us Radio folks are into using olive branches for our BBQ skewers. That said, I can also say that Joi and I have had confidential conversations - while at the same time - they were negotiating with the Trotts and I feel fine with that.

As I said earlier, Joi is one of the most honorable people I know and I would never say most of the things I say to Joi - to other potential VC/Investors. I just came from a meeting with a potential client, who was planning to do 80% of what we're doing.

But instead of freaking out and thinking of him as a potential competitor, we came away from the meeting vowing to use each other's code, ideas and momentum - to build a greater whole. We're still separate companies, but we're working together - and we'll BOTH contribute code, effort and time - towards open standards. Most of the techniques and attitude making this possible - I learned from Dave Winer.

So there you have it - combine Joi and Dave - and we're set!

Marc, I have a proposal on the table to Joi which, if they go for it, is a first step, and probably will make you smile. Stay tuned.

actually, i am apalled a the whole lot of you.
blogs are personal, i guess. you certainly are a chummy, maybe even smarmy lot, arent you?

you see, all of you are repeating the same mistakes that yr fathers and grandfathers made. when good friends get together, there are no ethics. there is little circumspection. whether this is bush and his texas oil cronies, or now, all you main stream bloggists.

the reg stated a case.when ito reported in these columns his personal involvement to a limited degree, i remember revewing almost all of the on-line links to the companies he is involved with. i am affraid that, although i do not agree with what the reg intimated, that nonetheless, anyone investigating the intnerlocking links between ito's ventures, and his desire to take companies public, all of you should do more critical thinking on this issue. it smells. i dont care if you surround yrselves in the air of what-is-happeing-now-coolness-of-blogging. you blind yrselves when it comes to defending a friend. admirable, i am sure. but think about a little bit more honestly. please. you are supposedly an educated lot.

"Bet against me. We'll see who wins."

As a wise man once said: "There's always a third choice - not betting at all."

Dirk

Hey Joi;

I don't think you need to defend your self to regular readers here. It is pretty clear that you're wide in your enthusiastic support for things you think are interesting, not a monomaniacle hypster for yoru next big thing.

Most of us who have been blogging since before they hit the raidar a year or so ago have tried all the major flavors (Blogger, MT, Nuky-things, Slashy-things, graymatter, wikis, Radios, whatever) and have moved to where we're happy. The fact that MT works with your and my style of communication is great.

Both you in your sphere of VC and I in mine of academics/education have fallen into the MT halo. I am probably much more critical of MT as a cultural/technological event than you'd be, if I was evaluating it as an academic design project, but we both wish it well for reasons more than the mileage we can make out of it for ourselves.

The point is whether someone is engaged (critically, acadamically, economically...) with something that is also of personal interest to them. If not, you're just spinning your life's wheels trying hitch a ride to an unknown location.

Should have had coffee first before posting.

In the nearly two decades I have known Joi, he has actively promoted people and technology and people and companies and people he liked and saw value in, regardless of whether/not he was getting any return out of it other than the good will of good deeds done (value shared) coming back tenfold (people, or their friends, you share with today may share something with you later). I have never known him to promote something he did not see value in. And I have never known him not to honest about having a personal stake in something.

And so he not only sees value in the people and technology and company of Six Apart, he also believes in the potential for a reasonable (by Neoteny criteria) return on a high-risk early stage investment in these very uncertain times. Cool. Nice to see some bright optimism shining through dreary days. And I hope you all make a lot of money along the way.

i couldnt have said it any better. see, it IS about money, stupid. ethics be damned, right?
all persons on the board of neotony should be investigated.
would you allow this man to be involved with a fair, IPO? i wouldnt. would you allow this man to guide yr investments if he doesnt declare his involvements with other companies he is secretly promoting?
japanese ito has a case of japanese situational ethics. not the highest ethical standards in the business world, is it.

niji:

If you point to specific examples of where I have been dishonest or where the "intnerlocking links between ito's ventures" has exposed some suspicious behavior, I would appreciate it. I will try to explain or correct anything that could be construed as misleading.

Yes. Investing IS about money. That is my fiduciary responsibility to my investors.

Ethics? Fuduciary responsibility is one dimension of the ethics that guide me. Honesty is another. This thread, and the reason I responded to Andrew, was in part to get feedback from others aobut their thoughts on how to deal with ethical conflicts online. Responsibility to my shareholders, my business partners, my friends. I think that describing the process was probably a good start. I think the issue of ethics is that when you have multiple stakeholders and their interests diverge, you have to allow some to have priority. I think the only thing you can do is be transparent about the process, and that will still damage your reputation at one level. This is a good example. People want to know everything in a timely way, but NDA's and other things prevent me from fulfilling this need...


In not sure when I have ever not declared my involvement in companies I write about and I don't understand what "secretly promoting" means. How does that work?

I agree. There is a problem with Japanese business ethics. I don't know that Wall Street can boast about their ethics either, though.

Thinking there is something wrong with an investor enthusing about a company in which he has invested makes so little sense that it is hard to understand how people can take it seriously. There is no analogy to unethical analysts.

On a separate note: Dave, I'd suggest thinking twice before slapping down your users for speaking their minds -- why would I want to buy software from a company whose founder (and presumably biggest shareholder) will chastise me for using it for the purpose it was intended to serve?

Your desire to see the market grow is incompatible with a desire to exert editorial control over your users -- at some point it grows beyond a simple community where any particular Radio user should even be expected to know who you are, let alone respect your vetting of their expression.

I may be late to the party, but... the autobiographical nature of blogging leads us down strange labyrinths.

Joi writes about what he is interested in, as a culture vulture, bon vivant, and VC, and gains a following. They are interested in what he is interested in, and in the gonzo world of blogland, come to associate his online persona with the living breathing Joi... who is evaluating various blog technologies for investment, behind the scenes, confidentially, for all sorts of sensible meatworld reasons.

This is another example of falling through the looking glass.

All writing is a form of autobiography, and all autobiography is fiction, since we can't explain all, fully. There is a latent ethical dilemma that arises from commenting on the world of blogging with a large readership, and investing in it. But, Joi never stated he was unbiased or impartial or disinterested.

I think we should create a new proviso sticker for blogs, "dangerous ideas inside," or an opt-in click box that asserts that "the information provided may influence your opinion, and any subsequent loss of capital is your own look out."

Joshua Ellis tells it like it is.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

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The Register, which a few of you may remember as a vaguely clueful tech site back in the dot-com era, Read More

Recently I've been having conversations with various people about the difference between institutional and personal speech. Read More

Joi Ito's Web: Andrew Orlowski questions my objectivity after our investment in Six Apart und Joi Ito schreibt eine sehr... Read More

Strategy from dollarshort.org
May 3, 2003 5:19 AM

In response to Andrew Orlowski's piece in The Register that intimated that, as a strategic move on Joi Ito and... Read More

And they're off: Joi Ito takes on Dave Winer. Danny Ayers takes on Dave Winer. Mark Pilgrim takes on Dave Winer. (And I thought bloggers loved one another). Remember, never get involved on either side of a Holy War when... Read More

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