05 February 2010
Tonight I was really shocked to hear of what amounts to a major scandal in Silicon Valley involving the well read and tech thought leader, Tech Crunch.
TC is like candy for those of us who work in tech and its more like crack for those who work at startups or within the startup eco system. Younger startups lust for a coverage on the site and you can probably find a direct correlation between buzz, funding, etc, and Tech Crunch coverage.
Tonight the founder of TC announced that one of its many writers who also was employed by TC as an intern solicited coverage of emerging startups for kickbacks like high end electronics such as a Mac Book Air. The intern was terminated as described below. All of the interns posts were deleted as well.
"After an investigation we determined that the allegation was true. In fact, on at least one other occasion this intern was almost certainly given a computer in exchange for a post.
The intern in question has admitted to some of the allegations, and has denied others. We suspended this person while we were sorting through exactly what happened. When it became clear yesterday that there was no question that this person had requested, and in one case taken, compensation for a post, the intern was terminated."
Later the intern in question posted an apology on his personal blog, essentially identifying himself as the intern in question as he was not identified in the post over at TC.
How big is TechCrunch? The intern in questions name although NOT identified on Tech Crunch are two of Googles top ten search trends. That's a lot of people clicking on a link, finding out his name, and then Googling to learn more.
I thought the story was interesting as its text book story of someone extorting a "pay to play" tactic on an ambitious company. I wanted to do a little more research on the subject when I found myself a little curious as to just who this Daniel Brusilovsky is. Click Read more....
Clicking on some of the links he had on his blog, a couple things stood out including:
1) He is Facebook friends with a lot of heavy hitters in Silicon Valley. The guy is 17 so that's not exactly normal.
2) His crunch base page is stacked with various roles in addition to his role at Tech Crunch. Daniel has his own startup (which somehow has acquired 2 companies already) as well as roles at Qik and Apture among many others.
3) Really great press from Giga Om and others that point to the fact he is really connected with some respected people. "He’s raising his first round of funding, meeting with lawyers, and name-dropping the likes of Loic Le Meur and Robert Scoble (both of whom are on his board)
Getting into really creepy stalker mode I checked out his photos on Flickr to find yes a whole hell of a lot of nice electronics but also that he's been sauntering around the valley for quite awhile with access and connections as exhibited by pictures at or with some Silicon Valley moguls. Keep in mind that a lot of the quick pictures pre date his involvement with Tech Crunch.
While it sounds like I am obsessing/cyberstalking a minor, I really just wanted to know who the hell is Daniel Brusilovsky and who is he connected that enables him to have his own startup which acquires others, write at Tech Crunch, and have some pretty fancy titles at a nice portfolio of startups? I mean when I was in high school success and privilege for me was obtaining a fake ID.
So using some more detective skills I figured out who his parents were and while they work in tech and are successful, I have to say it wasn't the heavy hitters that I fathomed like Sergey Brin or Steve Jobs.
At the end of the day its still a mystery how someone so young accomplished so much in such a competitive and technical field. Obviously being connected to Scoble and Le Meur probably facilitated a lot of warm intros and access, but how he initially got plugged into them and later Tech Crunch is still an enigma.
For now though the allure of a Mac Book Air and other cool devices seems to have derailed what was a fast start to someone passionate about tech.
Side note: I feel kind of weird writing about a minor, but he's openly outed himself as the intern in question and is pretty high profile as exhibited on many levels. Everything I discovered about Daniel is public information even his parent's identity which I have not shared.
Update: In addition to his articles being wiped out, it seems articles that mention him or that he commented in were also deleted.