Friday, August 04, 2006

More Valley and Less Silicon, Please

Today's chirpy Business Week cover story on the "brat pack" of youthful techie entrepreneurs just cries out for some leavening amid all the puffery -- more valley and less silicon, I guess you could say.

Not that I mean to be critical of my alma mater, which clearly has hit on a winning formula, but here's the odd thing: the skepticism lacking in the story is actually right there at BW -- just not in or near the article.

In a BW Online blog, Rob Hof offers a dissenting voice: "As I've told Sarah [co-author of the story], I'm still a little uncertain how different things really are now in the Valley. For every brash entrepreneur who can afford to blow off VCs, there are 100 more who would give their left, uh, knee to get a few mil for their startups."

It would have been nice if these countervailing sentiments were reflected in the article, or as an accompanying "sidebar," and not stuck away in an online story comparatively few people will read.

POSTCRIPT: As was embarassingly splattered over the Romenesko website, blogger Scott Rosenberg eviscerated the story, questioning the $60 million cover number and calling the article "the same old dotcom-bubble piece dragged from the attic and retrofitted for today's Web." Techdirt also made some good points, and reader reaction was unfavorable.

Methinks that BW really needs to rethink its approach for both editorial and commercial reasons. The editorial reasons are obvious, the commercial reasons less so. While it may or may not be true that IBM pulled its ads from BW because of a negative story, I seriously doubt that a diet of puff pieces is going to send advertisers flocking to the magazine.

Article co-author Jessi Hempel dropped by in the comments section below.

(revised 8/6)

UPDATE: The fellow on the cover later denied he was worth $60 million, and also said -- contradicting the article -- that his company wasn't even breaking even.

© 2006 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.


Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
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