Trash TechCrunch? I’ll Choose the Business Perspective (of course)


I've had a love/hate relationship with Techcrunch for a long time. Michael's first post came one day before I launched TBE. I was fascinated by the "wisdom of crowds" and similar ideas back then, and I followed Michael's blog closely. But over time I grew bored with all the "me too mashups," and I became skeptical that most of these companies were providing any value other than the ability to waste a lot of time on the web. I kept the RSS feed, but rarely clicked through to read the site.

Yesterday Michael offered a prize to the blogger who does the best job of trashing Techcrunch. I figured it would take me all of 5 minutes to write a post about the stupidity of most Web2.0 business models and find a few example posts to link to, but while searching the Techcrunch archives, I was struck by how much Michael's writing had changed since the site began. His early posts really suck. Not just a few of them, but almost all of them. Regardless of whether or not I agree with his views on web startups, it is obvious he's become a much better writer over the last two years. It just goes to show that the best way to improve at something is to do it. And that's why I still like Techcrunch.

The best way to learn about entrepreneurship is to do it, and Techcrunch encourages that. Many of the entrepreneurs that are profiled on the site will look back on their startups and laugh at how naive they were, but they will have learned a lot and will move on to bigger and better things. In my mind, Techcrunch is helping to create better entrepreneurs in the long term, even if it means praising some of their dumb ideas in the short-term.

But let's get back to trashing posts, which was our goal. I'll blame the aside on ADD I developed from spending too much time on Web 2.0 sites.

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Techcrunch has been wrong about lots of things, so finding a post to trash should be easy, right? It would be except for the fact that – I don't believe you can predict the future. While it is possible to predict what kinds of things may be successful, the success and failure of individual companies involves too many variables and too much luck. I am sure a few people have long strings of accurate predictions, and I'm also sure those are expected within a normal probability distribution. So I'm not going to criticize Michael for being wrong about the eventual outcome of the companies he covers.

The post I found to trash is an early post Michael wrote about Seth Godin's book "The Big MOO." What's wrong with it? It doesn't fit. It has nothing to do with anything else Techcrunch covers. One of the keys to running a successful blog is to stay on topic. That Seth Godin plug was a bad business move because it seems random and forced. For a guy that covers business models focusing on niches and long tails, it seems like a strange mistake to lose that focus.

Michael obviously didn't make many more business mistakes, because Techcrunch now rakes in the dough. Given that his blog pulls in about 20x the revenue of this blog, maybe the criticism here is directed the wrong way. But to honor Michael's request, I'm not just writing this post, I'm launching Techcrunchtrashr, where people can join a social networking community that will trash Techcrunch, tag trashes, share trashes, and mash up trashes so that they can trash Techcrunch in ways no one ever even thought of. And in typical Web2.0 style, I wrote this post and built the site in less than one hour.