More than once a day, nearly every day, for the last three months I have been asked how I feel about Loren Feldman's sock puppet and seemingly unending shots at me from his Twitter pulpit.
My answer is pretty consistent. I do not like it. I am not enjoying it and it has become increasingly clear that there really isn't a whole lot I can do about it. I am posting this blog now so that I can answer questions I keep getting, clear up some untruths that are being repeated and hopefully be free to move on to the new projects I am starting.
I'm often asked what caused the grudge between us is. I don't know. In fact, I have never met Loren Feldman. To my knowledge, we have only been in the same room once and that was at South by Southwest, so I do not know why Loren is doing what he is doing. My guess is that it has more to do with my friend and colleague, Robert Scoble than me. The two worked together at Podtech and when Loren posted a video called "TechNigga," Robert was among many people who found the piece offensive. Personally, I consider the piece tasteless at best, but was not involved at that time in any conversations regarding it.
Both Scoble and Loren believe that Robert played a role in getting Loren fired from Podtech because of TechNigga. Others tell me that a large sponsor complained about it and that led to his demise. Either way, the incident had nothing to do with me, until several months later, when Scoble declined to start an online video studio with me in favor of joining FastCompany. His job was to start FastCompany.TV, a global network and he invited me to be the next node on that network.
FastCompany welcomed me in no small part because like Scoble, I had already found a sponsor. Three days before my GNTV was to go live, the sponsor pulled out for reasons that had nothing to do with me. Fast Company showed faith in me by deciding it would try to procure sponsorship. After three months, I came to the conclusion, that as someone who has worked independently, I would rather take the show back, have greater say in the production of it and be able to make the same money, or more, by charging less than a large company like FastCompany would have to. It was a generally amiable separation and one that allows me to continue working with Robert on WorkFast.
I am asked: "Did Loren cause me to get fired by FastCompany or did Loren prevent me from getting sponsorship." The answer to the former is "definitely not." The answer to the former is "I don't think so." In the last three months FC and I spoke with four companies. Only two mentioned Loren at all and both did so to emphasize their support of me and their perception that Loren was irrelevant to their customers. What stopped the deals from happening were financial issues. You may have noticed that these are tight financial times. If you are part of an enterprise, you probably also know social media budgets remain low, and money for sponsoring an online video program about social media in business is a pretty tough sell.
Will I get sponsorship in the end? I'm hopeful. I'm already having talks with a couple of companies. These talks may go somewhere exciting, or as many of you know, new business development talks can fizzle for strange and unexpected reasons.
I have been an entrepreneur for 30 years. I have had many successes and my share of failures. That's the life of an entrepreneur. I don't know how GNTV will come out yet. I believe there is a need for a program that helps professionals understand how social media can be used. I believe that with my contracting people to work the cameras and produce the show it will continue to emerge in quality.
There are a great many ways GNTV could fail. There's a lot of great video content out there already. Potential sponsors have very little discretionary funds these days and are a bit more risk avoidant than they would be in better financial times.
But if you think the show will fail because of Loren Feldman and his puppet, you are vastly overrating him. He has managed to annoy, distract and embarrass me. He has confused people by usurping my site (BTW someone at FastCompany owns LorenFeldman.com. Perhaps we could arrange a swap. Someone in Washington State owns RobertScoble.com and several variations of Michael Arrington URL have been secured by third parties as well).
Another question that I get asked is why more people have not stepped forward in my defense. I'm pretty certain I know the answer to this one. Loren Feldman has a big and powerful friend in Michael Arrington. I have received a great number of private messages from people who have said precisely that they hate seeing what is being done to me, but they will not speak out because Arrington has become singularly the most powerful individual in social media. We should all think about the power he is assuming and what the repercussions of it are.
How Michael elected to assume the role of Loren Feldman's champion, I do not know. Some think that this was all a set up, that Michael will start a TechCrunch Video with Loren--his frequent houseguest--as the lead program. Actually, I tend to believe it is more the way Michael said it was when he called me to extract three words from from a 20-minute interview about our feud. He told me that he had been ignoring the whole matter, until Loren brought some incendiary tweets of mine to his attention. Then, he decided he was going to stand up for his little friend and give me what-for.
But that's just my perception. To understand more you'll have to ask Michael.
This has been an unquestionable success. Silicon Valley is a bad neighborhood to live in when you have pissed off Michael Arrington. There was a noticeable step back after Arrington ran three pieces in three days extolling the virtues of Loren and the vices of Shel.
I do believe Arrington was instrumental in getting the puppet interviews rolling. The first wave of interviews was with people who are closely connected with Arrington, including people with financial ties or well-known friendships. It has spread to include people who are notable, and less connected to Arrington's inner circle. Some of them are people who I have considered friends for a good many years. The perception is that they have gathered around Loren in support of him and against me.
This may be true. Only Jason Calacanis has been interviewed by the puppet and extended the courtesy of telling me it was coming. Jason made clear that he intended me no offense, but he was doing it because the puppets were fun. Even Scoble is on record as saying he thinks the puppets are funny.
You'll have to forgive me if I remain unamused. And what motivates friends to be interviewed by the puppet or to enter into business deals with Loren, you will have to ask them.
(1)I have not been fired by SAP. They have terminated one contract and started two new ones. In July, I will receive more money from SAP than I ever have. They just had me in to speak to developers and a Palo Alto workshop. I would describe my relationship with them as ongoing and excellent.
(2) Robert Scoble was not involved in the discussion in which I terminated my relationship with FastCompany. But if someone bothers to ask him, he will confirm that I was not fired, despite what you may hear from a piece of cloth on someone's hand.
As I've stated a couple of times recently, I feel liberated. I can speak more freely on ask issue today than I felt I could do previously. I hope I do not have to continuously talk about the Feldman issue, because that sort of distraction can cause me the harm he seriously wants to cause, but I thought it would be helpful if I took the time once, to go through the major issues I so often hear about. But hopefully, this piece will either set the record straight or let me voice my perception on what has been going on.