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Steve's ITK: Tech press sucks

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Steve's ITK

January 14 · Issue #9 · View online
Steve's In The Know: Everything I published recently, commentary you won't find elsewhere, write-ups of events I attended or spoke at, and industry rumours.

I must be going soft
Opening thought: Talk is cheap
I sometimes joke that tech blogging would be the best job in the world if it wasn’t for the writing. When you work for a publication like TechCrunch you have unparalleled access to meet and talk to just about anybody in the industry. But once the conversation ends, the real work of filing copy begins.
That’s why a few years ago I started experimenting with audio interviews in a series I’ve dubbed ’Talk is cheap’. Readers get to hear an almost un-edited and hopefully candid conversation with a VC or entrepreneur (along with an insight into how I work) and I get to take a break from writing. The format isn’t to everyone’s taste but, hey, variety is the spice of life, right?
In my first audio interview of the year I caught up with George Spencer, the CEO and founder of London property technology startup Rentify. The recording is 30 minutes long, but, if proptech isn’t your thing, skip to around the 13 minute mark because that’s where things get a little more lively.
George doesn’t like the tech press very much. In fact, he basically thinks we suck, especially when writing about startup failure. In his view, journalists are too poorly positioned to ever have the required access to cover a company’s demise in an informed way.
I kicked back, of course, arguing that when a company fails it is the legitimate role of the tech press to ask why and to attempt a postmortem, not least when VC money is involved. Even based on limited information it is better to ask the hard questions and provide some possible answers than to never ask any questions at all.
That led us to use the recent example of YPlan. What assumptions did the founders and investors make that turned out to not be true? Or if the assumptions still carry weight, was it simply a failure in execution?
To see what this kind of story can look like, check out my coverage of Valk Fleet’s demise from early last year.
Bonus: Which national newspaper sent a reporter to my house for two hours on Thursday to “check out the competition?”
Things I wrote this week
Listen to Rentify founder talk property tech, scaling a startup, and why tech press sucks
Curve adds instant cashback to mobile wallet and all-your-cards-in-one app
London’s latest events discovery app Revl exits stealth after raising £2.4 million Seed
Michelin backs motorhome and campervan rental marketplace Campanda
Dubai’s sovereign wealth fund invests in Swiss-made banking app Centralway Numbrs
European VC Atomico promotes Carolina Brochado and Teddie Wardi to Partner
MyTomorrows raises further €10M to help access drugs in development
Babylon Health partners with UK’s NHS to replace telephone helpline with AI-powered chatbot
Monese raises $10M Series A for its banking app targeting immigrants and expats
Closing thought: New year, old mission
A couple of years ago, I decided to take a stab at writing down my personal mission statement as a tech journalist:
To shine a light on the important tech stories, startups, products and topics of the day. And, in doing so, strive to make the European tech industry a little more open and accountable.
Revisiting those words at the start of 2017, I think they still hold water. But, as ever, I’m going to need your help.
As I’ve written before, everybody says they’d like the tech industry to be more open, but very few of the same insiders are willing to make the first move.
You can send me tips in complete confidence. I always protect my sources. Ask around and people will vouch for my trustworthiness, integrity and good judgement.
Get in touch
Want to continue the conversation? Just hit reply to this email – I answer every single ITK email I receive.
Please also forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might enjoy it. More subscribers and increased open rates makes me happy.
Till next time,
Steve
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