When I read that Michael Arrington fired Daniel Brusilovsky from TechCrunch for allegedly taking bribes, I invited him to Mixergy so I could find out what happened.
I didn’t want to do a confrontational interview where I’d either come down hard on him or slam TechCrunch. That’s not me. I want to help build people up, not tear them down.
I just have an insatiable curiosity, and to the extent Daniel was willing to talk, I was willing to listen.
I did this interview on Friday, but before I recorded, I promised Daniel that I wouldn’t publish it without his permission. After it was over, he asked me to wait till after his Teens In Tech Conference was over before releasing it. The conference happened yesterday (and Arrington even showed up) so I’m publishing the interview.
Daniel Brusilovsky, Teens in Tech Networks
Daniel Brusilovsky is a 17-year-old entrepreneur. Founder & CEO of Teens in Tech Networks, and Special Projects Team Lead at Qik.
Andrew: Hi everyone, it’s Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart and I’ve got Daniel Brusilovsky with me and he was an intern at TechCrunch up until about eighteen hours ago. This morning when I woke up I read an article on TechCrunch about how, apparently, well, he was accused of getting gifts that he wasn’t supposed to get in exchange for articles. Actually, how’s that, Daniel, as representing what happened?
Interviewee: Yeah. That sounds about right.
Andrew: Okay, and we’re going to talk about that here, but I want to know who you are before we get into it. I want to know the person behind the pose, the person beyond this controversy. So let’s start off with: What were you doing at TechCrunch?
Interviewee: I was brought on in June 2009. School just ended and I had a job, I had been working at Quick for two years now. I was looking for something that I really wanted to do and what I was passionate about and that was startups. And what other, better place to learn about all the hottest startups than the blog that covers them all. So, I’ve known Mike for a while, and I spoke with him, and I said, “Hey, TechCrunch always has summer interns, is there something we can figure out?” He said, “We would be more than happy to have you.” And so in June 2009 I was brought in as the Events and Business Development Intern. So I wasn’t hired as a writing intern. I started writing for TechCrunch by accident, actually. And it’s an interesting story. I was up at 2 AM and none of the other writers were up and a story broke about the iPhone 3GS Jailbreak and no one else was up and it was a breaking story, so I took a huge risk and I hit the publish button. And it ended up that we got on the top of [Tech Theme?]. It was hundreds of comments; it became a big story. That’s kind of how I got into writing at TechCrunch. This was in August, so two months after I was brought on this just hit me right in the face that now I have companies sending me press releases and stuff like that.
Andrew: Let’s go back a little bit.
Andrew: You were allowed to hit the publish button just by working at TechCrunch?
Interviewee: I wasn’t exactly allowed to. It was a big risk that I made where either A. I could have lost my job right then, or B. it would have paid off like it did.
Andrew: What did it feel when it did pay off? How did that feel?
Interviewee: It felt great. I mean, having Mike come into the office and say, “Good work.” I mean that meant a lot to me. For pushing Mike to compliment someone. He’s very blunt about things, so it was very nice to hear that from him.
Andrew: By the way, for anyone who’s listening to this, I’ve got a sense that I’m sure I’m going to be disappointing a lot of people with this interview because I’m sure a lot of people want me to beat you up and act like the devil because then maybe more people would watch what I’m doing here, or maybe beat you up because you’re in the wrong, or maybe be a griller or something. I don’t know what. But my goal is always to get to really know the person behind the business and to get to know what your experience is like. And so, that’s why I’m spending more time about the history than most people would. That’s why I’m not jumping in there or Riley style and accusing you or anything. I just want to get to know who you are, and if this isn’t the right interview for people then that’s fine, they can just go watch something else. But we will get to the controversy, and we’ll get to what happened. Okay. So, what was it about TechCrunch, beyond just learning about the industry? Where did you see this leading you in your career, working at TechCrunch?
Interviewee: Wherever you go in Silicone Valley, if you say you work for TechCrunch, everyone wants to talk to you. If TechCrunch was like Facebook, I mean, everyone knows about Facebook, loves Facebook. In Silicone Valley Tech Crunch is exactly like that. And, working for TechCruch, number one, in the last nine months, I’ve learned more than I could ever learn from anyone. And the reason I could do that is because I had an experience of learning from people like Michael and Heather and Eric and all the other writers. Learning how things work and how to handle yourself in situations where you need to write a breaking and how to not freak out.
Andrew: Do you have an example? I always like to hear and I know that you’ve been listening to some of my interviews. So, you must know I like to hear specific examples. Do you have any of when you were gonna freak out and you learned that you weren’t, or anything else that you learned there?
Interviewee: Well, I mean obviously, my first article when I wrote on TechCrunch that was…I spent about 10 good minutes, should I press the button or should I not? That was one of the you know, biggest decisions at TechCrunch I’ve had to make — do I press the publish button or not?
Andrew: Because if you press it and it’s wrong after they saw the first time that you did OK and they gave you their blessing to press again, and to publish again, if you made a mistake, what kind of things could’ve happened?
Interviewee: I mean, first and foremost, I could’ve lost my job.
Andrew: If what? If you, after the first time you published something that was libelous? I guess you could’ve lost your job? Could you as a blogger for that? It seems like anything goes in blogging.
Interview: I mean, it’s three strikes and you’re out. So I mean…but for me like the number one fear was losing the dream job that I just got.
Interviewee: That’s what kept on going in my head is am I making the right decision? And it ended up that I did make the right decision.
Andrew: How did you get the stories that you wrote?
Interviewee: What was that?
Andrew: How did you find your stories?
Interviewee: So, I mean there’s a lot of ways. I have my own sources that call me here and then say hey, you might want to check this out. TechCrunch has a firstname.lastname@example.org email address that goes to all their writers.
You know, A lot of random people just email us saying, “Hey, check this out. Amazon is giving away a free Kindle.” I mean, that story came in through tips. We kind of have, each one of us has our own kind of source, and if it’s a trusted source, obviously you would go with it. I mean, that was a big thing, the tips@techcrunch. I get a lot of press releases. I mean for me, I would get anywhere from 300-500 emails a day.
Andrew: Would you actually go through the press releases looking for a story?
Interviewee: If it was a slow day, then yeah.
Andrew: OK. What about this…now that you’ve been on the inside of a news business, of the tech news business, if somebody is watching us and has an internet company and wants to get in front of the writers, what’s the best way to do it? Is it the tips section then hopefully they’ll reach you, an intern there? Is it just finding the newest person in the company who’s most eager and getting them to write? What do you think?
Interviewee: In terms of TechCrunch, a lot of my, you know, in my opinion best stories came from introductions from other people because then when you meet them face to face you get all the information. One of the best things is meeting face to face with companies.
When I joined TechCrunch, a little back story of how I got started into tech, I started blogging and podcasting in 2007. When I was podcasting, I would always go to a company’s office to interview them. When I started working at TechCrunch, I stopped going to companies’ offices. If they wanted to meet with me, they would have to come to TechCrunch and meet face to face. That’s one of the things I learned, I spent too much time transporting to other locations where that time could’ve been spent working on other projects.
Andrew: Plus, when you’re at TechCrunch, people are willing to come to you. They’ll fly across the country, around the world, to come into your office and talk to you.
Andrew: And you’re an intern; how old are you that they’re coming over to see you?
Interviewee: Well, first of all, I wasn’t an intern. I was a part time employee.
Interviewee: You could look at it both ways, part time, interning, because I’m 17, but number one, I didn’t sign any contracts when I joined TechCrunch. I signed absolutely no papers. They’re kinda, we talked, we figured something out and work started the next day.
I mean, I was never given an official title. I have TechCrunch business cards. They just have my name, phone number, email address, and URL. It was different because I’ve always been used to working for companies where they tell you like exactly…
Interviewee: There’s Heather and Mike. Mike kind of heads of editorial with Eric _ who is in New York. And Heather takes care of anything else. So events, business development, partnerships, advertising and all that kind of stuff. So it is weird not having a direct boss that you can just go in and talk to. Even though for most cases, that was Heather for me. But at the same time, it was weird not like, people ask you so what you do. And you would say I am founder of _. For me, I would just say, I work at Tec crunch. Writing, doing events, business development like no title. And it was little awkward for me, especially because the last 3 companies I had worked at, they had all given me specific responsibilities, titles. And I think that’s what makes Tech Crunch that much of a better start-up. It is one of those things where you wear many hats. And even though, Tech Crunch has a lot of people working for them. We have freelance writers for other sites and stuff like that. We have 15 people in our office. A lot of people think that Tech Crunch is a small company and stuff like that. It is actually a pretty big company for a blog network.
Andrew: I didn’t realize there were that many people.
Interviewee: Yeah. You have to consider there’s Tech Crunch, Crunch Gear, Mobile Crunch, Crunch Race, Tech Crunch IT.
Andrew: Then you’ve got the conferences. Tech Crunch 50.
Interviewee: Conferences. Yeah the Tech Crunch 50. The Crunches. All these different things.
Andrew: And you worked on all these. Right. In addition to writing & you wrote 100 posts. You also worked on Tech Crunch 50.
Interviewee: Yeah. I was the stage manager for Tech Crunch 50. So anything that happened on stage that was my responsibility. If anything went wrong that was my responsibility. For the Crunches, I did a lot of the website stuff. So I have a little bit of development background, just basic front end coding.
Andrew: So you must be walking on air by the way on this job.
Interviewee: It was the dream job. I loved every minute of it.
Andrew: Who did you meet that is big in the business that you got to know as a result of this job? I know a lot of people go to work for Jason _ for example because they say; they want to meet his friends. They want to meet the people who he has on the roll events.
Interviewee: I mean the people that come by the Tech Crunch office are, it is amazing, the people that you see. It is interesting, one day Ron _ stopped by and talked to Mike. And the man, who invested in Google you know, just comes into our office. It is really interesting. I mean one of the people that I met was Steve _, the guy who started Apple. I mean it is really.
Andrew: What’s he like to meet? Did he talk to you? Did he get to know you or was he passing through?
Interviewee: Yeah. I got introduced to him by a mutual friend that we had. And he knew that I worked on Tech Crunch. And we started on talking IM a lot. And he is one of the funniest friends of people I have ever met I think. We would be talking on IM and he asked me for like pizza, some random stuff. But that’s what makes _ (2 times) he is kid at heart. And he loves games, he loves toys, he loves gadgets. And that’s exactly what I love. I love I-Phones, I love anything related to technology I just love, and I can’t get enough of.
Andrew: So he was just IM-ing you to find out if you like pizza.
Interviewee: Well yeah. We will have conversations on IM, like yeah let’s meet up and he is like, do you like pizza?
Andrew: I see. And this wouldn’t have happened if not for Tech Crunch, right. The reason that you get these dream jobs is because of the doors they open up. Is that true?
Interviewee: Yeah. I mean I met _ through a mutual friend. And the friend is actually, I think would talk about this latter in the _ conference, he is the guy who designed and developed our website, Adam _ . His dad is good friends with Steve. And so Adam _ one day said, hey you should talk with one of friends, his name is Daniel. And that is how I started talking to Waz. That was awesome, like being able to talk to Waz on IM.
Andrew: Wow, All right. I have got a flavor of who you are, what your passions are, what you are able to do, and some of the works that you did at Tech Crunch. Now let’s get to the issue, the big controversy. I will bring it up by saying, are you talking to me now on Mac Book _?
Interviewee: I am not. The 1st thing I want to make it clear that I never got a Mac Book _.
Andrew: Okay. So what can you say what happened there? Actually for people who do not know about the Mac Book _
Andrew: For people who do not know what the MacBook Air references, can you tell us?
Interviewee: Yeah, I’ll keep it pretty blunt for now. There is supposedly a company I was meeting with who offered me a MacBook Air in exchange for a post. That got escalated to TechCrunch and TechCruch wrote a post about it and terminated my employment with them.
Andrew: Ok, so the story that’s been, the story is that someone offered you a MacBook Air in exchange for writing a story. You wrote the story. The implication is that you got the MacBook Air. You’re saying that the way this all came out is because somebody e-mailed TechCrunch and said this is it, I am going to blow the whistle on Daniel.
Interviewee: I mean, so.. it wasn’t so. I would be getting… So what would happen was, I wrote, so, I meet with this company and I wrote about news that they has just announced and this was a company that we had written about before and that we had no problems writing about since we have written about them a couple times in the past. So, I went ahead and wrote about their announcement and after that they you know let me know that they had a couple more announcements coming and that they were going to run a contest. And so, I mean that’s as as far as I’ll want to go right now.
Andrew: But how are you suppose to get the computer? Can you say that?..You can’t say that.
Ineterviewee: I mean, this is a very touchy subject because everything has happened so quickly in the last half a day that its still kind of a shock to me that I don’t work at TechCrunch anymore. Yeah, I mean at this point I just want to make it clear that I never got a MacBook Air in exchange for a post that I never wrote. Eventually, the post that they wanted me to write was never written.
Andrew: The post that this company wanted in exchange for the supposed, supposedly in exchange for the MacBook Air, you never wrote.
Interviewee: Never wrote.
Andrew: And you never got the MacBook Air?
Interviewee: Never got the Macbook Air or anything similar to that.
Andrew; Can you say whether it was supposed to be a quid pro quo? Was it you do this we give you that?
Interviewee: In a sense, yes and no.
Andrew: I see so, it was you to this we’ll give you that but not directly. We’ll give it back to you through a back channel.
Interviewee: Exactly. They wanted it to be very quiet and it got escalated to this.
Andrew: Ok, what about other situations? Are there other situations that you’ve been accused of taking.. taking stuff in exchange for writing?
Interviewee: Not that I am aware of.
Andrew: So as far as you know this is the only thing that you are accused of doing?
Interviewee: That I’ve been made aware of yes.
Andrew: The implication is that you were extorting companies… that you were extorting companies for stuff.
Interviewee: That is..
Andrew: That is a quote from a blog that I read about this.
Interviewee: So, what happened is that it is this one company and this one situation only that has made..that has been made public. There..I am part of a program at Intel, called the Intel Insiders, where I clearly disclose that on my personal blog and I receive products of the Intel Insiders program is basically like a social media advisory board to Intel where you work directly with Intel’s PR and product groups. And they send me netbooks to test out and stuff like that. I never wrote about any of those products on TechCruch. I’ve only written about Intel once and that was during CS when they had a big announcement to make. I got a press release from one of their PR firms and I went ahead, with my editor’s permission, and published it. Another thing to mention is, none of my posts were published without someone being..with someone looking over it. Someone has looked over every single one of my posts since I’ve started working at TechCrunch
Andrew: Let’s make sure we’re being clear because that first post that you talked about, the 3GS, nobody looked when you hit submit. Right?
Interview; When I hit submit, after the fact, someone pinged me. One of our writers, who happens to be in another country and helped me through making edits and learning and walked me through on how to you know do this the next time.
Andrew: Oh, I see. So after that, did somebody look at your post before you hit submit?
Interviewee: From there on, yes.
Andrew: Ok. Alright but still even if they did.
Andrew: I see so after that did somebody look at your post before you can submit?
Interviewee: Uh, from there on yes. Ok.
Andrew: All right but still even if they did, we don’t know that they could have researched to make sure that you did get something or not. It sounds like with Intel what are saying is that somebody, let me see if I’m understanding this right, that you’ve got the equipment to review, you didn’t review it on Tech Crunch, you reviewed it on your own blog would you disclose your connection to Intel?
Interviewee: I never reviewed anything on my personal blog. All my feedback and commentary went directly to Intel.
Andrew: I see
Interviewee: Intel sent me devices and you know how with me right now it’s called the M puck. It’s this extremely small tablet I mean and they sent me these because it has the Intel Adam processor inside and they wanted to see the things that I do like visit Twitter and you know a lot of social media, videos, e-mail, web browsing and stuff like that. And how this company with the Intel chip inside, how can they improve it. None of the products that Intel sent me were reviewed. They were all you know private meetings that I had with them giving them product feedback.
Andrew: So, Ok. So did you specifically ever.. here let me read the allegation to you? The intern, the intern allegedly asked for a Mac book in exchange for a post about a start up. True? False?
Interviewee: It’s not true and it’s not false.
Andrew: So how do you mean? You didn’t specifically ask for it but you did ask for it.
Interviewee: In a way yes.
Andrew: How do you mean?
Interviewee: I mean, so there were conversations that I had with this company and both in jokingly in manner and that they may have perceived as the real thing.
Andrew: I see so you and I are sitting and talking and I might want you to write about Mixergy for Tech crunch and I say listen Dan. Why don’t you write for Mixergy? Why don’t you write about Mixergy on Tech crunch? No there’s nothing, there’s no loops here. I say what if I give you this Mac book pro that I’m writing? That kind of joke.
Andrew: We’re not giving you the Mac book pro but we’re kidding around.
Andrew: So is this written down somewhere? Is that why there is evidence now or what looks like evidence? Sometimes when you look at IM it looks different. You don’t.. The nuance of message is communicated. The joke behind it is communicated.
Interviewee: There are IMs. They’re not made public and hopefully they wont be made public. I mean with all of this I’ve learnt a lot and I think the biggest thing I want to do is take a step back um..kind of take this as a learning experience in the run. I don’t want to hold a grudge against Tech crunch. I don’t, I’m not the kind of person that holds grudges. If anything I’m thankful to Tech Crunch. I’m thankful to them for giving me this opportunity, the opportunity of a life time to say. And its, there were mistakes that were made A I should have never joked around like that um..and you know things happen that probably shouldn’t have happened. This would all have been avoided if you know a couple of e-mails and IMs weren’t sent.
Andrew: Were there other.. Ok. So well see here you.. you joked around. You didn’t end up with a computer but you ended up in a situation that should have brought you the computer. But then you wrote the piece and sent it through back channel were supposed to get it. Sorry.
Interviewee: I never wrote the piece
Andrew: Oh so you never even wrote this piece that you were kidding about.
Andrew: Okay so you never wrote the piece, never got the computer, didn’t even get it through back channel?
Andrew: Did your mother get the computer or your Uncle get the computer in your place or anything like that?
Andrew: Okay. All right Um. Okay. All right so you were saying about.. what about this? At least one other fact at least one other occasion this intern is certainly given a computer in exchange for a post. What was that in reference to?
Interviewee: So there.. I have a personal friend who, I introduced him to some one and they ended up being you know, their two companies ended up being partners. And my birthday was coming up and as a way to say thank you and happy birthday they sent me an Imac. Um, which is what I’m actually what I’m using right now. After I got my screen fixed as you probably know all about the twenty seven inch Imac screen problems. And in that situation there was personal relationship and business relationship were tied into each other.
Interviewee: …were tied into each other. The personal relationship was as a thank you present and as a happy birthday present I got the iMac in exchange a week and a half later or about two weeks that company got an e-mail from Steve Jobs so, I mean…
Andrew: That was in exchange for a post? Was it in exchange for a post?
Interviewee: It was not…
Andrew: No post related there at all? It just for an introduction?
Interviewee: The way this happened with the iMac is I introduced this person to another company that was looking for people like my friend’s company, they got a deal together as a way to say thank you and coincidentally my birthday was the same week. He got me an iMac. The iMacs just came out. He, we’re both huge Apple fan boys, and then the same time all this was happening, they got a legal threat from Apple and I made that threat public and Steve Jobs replied to that threat and it ended up that this was one of the biggest stories that I’ve written.
Andrew: What was the story?
Interviewee: So this company makes software called Ipod Rip and the name Ipod is in the company. Apple’s legal team or one of their outside legal teams, sent his company an e-mail saying you have the word Ipod in your product’s name and either change your name or we’re taking your company down. So the CEO e-mailed Steve Jobs directly with the entire story asking if there’s anything he can do to help with the situation, especially since he’s one of the biggest Mac apps, you know? Well, basically what Ipod Rip does is you plug in any Ipod and it lets you download the music to your computer; basically what Apple doesn’t want you to do. Steve Jobs replied saying not a big deal, just change your name, or just change your name, not a big deal. When Steve Jobs replies to your e-mail and you’re a third-party developer, that’s huge. And so he gave me the exclusive piece, saying here’s the e-mail, here’s what I sent him, you know, go ahead, you know, and it ended up that almost every other single Apple or tech blog ended up covering it in one way or another.
Andrew: Yeah, that was huge.
Interviewee: Yeah, I mean any like… If I got an e-mail response from Steve Jobs right now, I would probably… I don’t know what I would do. I would probably jump around in my room or something. I mean this is the man that I idolize.
Andrew: And you… So you got this computer before you wrote the post?
Andrew: OK. And as a result of that post, what happened?
Interviewee: I mean nothing… I mean, well…
Andrew: Did anything happen Ipod Rip? Did Steve Jobs e-mail them afterwards?
Interviewee: No, they changed their name. They didn’t want to go down with a fight with Apple because that’s a definitely lost fight no matter where you begin.
Andrew: I see. So behind the scenes, behind the scenes they didn’t get any benefit? All they got was this story publicized?
Interviewee: Um hm.
Andrew: And that’s it. And this story we know is a good story because other, other bloggers ran with it and would have run with it whether or not they got an iMac.
Andrew: Were there other stories? Are there other examples?
Interviewee: That’s… Those are the only two that have ever happened.
Andrew: OK. And do you have any other gear beyond the computer that you’ve just showed us that you got and the computer that you’re on? No other gear?
Andrew: You’re… OK. Let’s take a step back here. We’ve now got this story. You’re 17 years old?
Interviewee: Um hm.
Andrew: People have been really hard on you on the internet. What do you want to say to that? First of all, what do you want to say to Michael Errington? No hard feelings?
Interviewee: Of course not. Michael has been one of the biggest mentors and advisers to me ever since I met him and the support that he’s given me, you know, right now we’re going through, you know, disagreement, but I’ve still invited Michael to my conference and he said he’s coming. We had a business relationship misunderstanding. That doesn’t mean our personal relationship has to suffer due to that. I still call Mike for advice and we still talk.
Andrew: Since this situation?
Andrew: When was the last time you called him for advice?
Interviewee: Last night.
Andrew: So after this happened, you called him for advice on what you should do?
Andrew: And what advice did he give you?
Interviewee: So he, he told me a couple of things. The first thing he told me is that getting in a fight with Tech Wrench is not something both Tech Wrench and I want to deal with.
Interviewee: is not something both Tech Crunch and I want to deal with, which I completely agree. I don’t want to harm the company that gave me this amazing experience. What he told me to do is. Firrst of all, he told me to sleep on the blog post that I wrote. I wrote the blog post basically saying that a line was crossed that should have never been crossed–conversations were made that never should have happened and as a result these events occurred, and the only thing I can do right now is apologize to my family for having to deal with this with me, and my friends, my colleagues, Tech Crunch and Silicon Valley. Because I feel like this has brought everyone into this because once this is made public on Tech Crunch everyone knows about it. And, unfortunately it had to be that and I’ve tried to, without going into details on my personal blog post, I’ve tried to make this as clear as possible that I am sincerely sorry for what has happened, and after the Teens in Tech conference tomorrow, I am going to take some time off to, you know, figure out what I want to do.
Andrew: I’ve told you this before the interview that I hope you don’t take a long time off; that these things are harder, that they seem harder, at the moment than they do in retrospect, and if you give up all of the connections and all the reputation and in all and everything that you’ve built just because of this, I think it’ll be a big loss to you.
Interviewee: Yes, I definitely agree. When you’ve lived 24-7 in this lifestyle, it;’s hard to take 2 months out of out. When I go on vacation, I always take a laptop with me because I need to stay connected.
Andrew: Let’s talk about this because my goal here with Mixergy is to humanize the person behind the businessperson. Before we talked you said this has been 18 of the hardest hours of your life and, to me, I’ve said, it’s gotta be because you’re 17. You should know the 18 hardest hours of my life, but do you mind talking about that publicly just so people know that you’re not taking this casually–that there’s a real person at the end of all the comments that are being tossed around out there.
Interviewee: Yeah, I mean at one point last night I, like I mentioned before the interview, I wanted to lock myself in my room and just cry myself to sleep. I was not expecting any of this to happen last night, especially the day that I got told that I’m not employed by Tech Crunch any more. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was angry, I was frustrated. I didn’t know what to do. I was confused. I had people telling me–go write a statement. I had people telling me–don’t say anything. In the situation I was in, it’s like what do you do? It was the hardest time that I’ve had to deal with because I had no idea what to do, and that’s when I called Mike and Mike and I spoke 20 minutes about what, you know, he’s already made his points. Everything’s been out there. He published the article around 10 o’clock. This was at 12, 1 in the morning, and I was just confused. I mean. What are you supposed to do. If you were in my position what would you have done?
Andrew: I don’t know.
Interviewee: I hope I made the right decision. If I didn’t, I still think that I hopefully made the right decision.
Andrew: You mean by writing that blog plst.
Interviewee: Yes. And by not, I mean, I’ve gotten the entire morning, I’ve gotten calls from the New York Times, AOL News, and from all these companies or media organizations wanting to talk to me and basically make Tech Crunch look bad through this situation. That is not what I want to do. At this point, I want to move on. I’ve learned. And I want to move on. I want to take this as a learning experience, everything I’ve learned at in the last week, and make sure that this never happens again.
Andrew: And you know what, in situations like this, I don’t know what it is about Tech Crunch, but people want you to pile on Tech Crunch, they want to pile on Tech Crunch themselves. the world, as soon as there’s an opportunity will jump in there kicking. OK, Jason Kalakanis, you worked with him at Tech Crunch, 15 I assuming in fact I know that we talked about that before. He wrote a blog post that’s harsh. Some thoughts on @Daniel Grew’s screwup and @arrington’s response. Did he talk to you before he wrote this post?
Interviewee: No one who ever published an article
Interviewee: No one who ever published an article besides tech crunch through our meetings actually talked to me.
Andrew: Some thoughts on @Daniel Gruse screw up and @Arrington’s response, “Michael Arrington handles every publisher editor’s worst nightmare.” I see, an editor extorting subjects for coverage and so you weren’t extorting subjects for coverage. He didn’t call you up but no hard feelings against Jason Calacanis? it was just a post that he whipped up maybe from his Iphone or BLackberry…
Interviewee: I mean its hard to say that. I mean I would love for people to actually know the real story that I don’t have a MacbookAir.
Andrew: Well we’re going to get this post up and they’ll know that you don’t have a MacbookAir and they’ll have a cleaner sense of what happened behind the scenes.
Interviewee: And I think what Jason assumes and what everyone else assumes is that i do have one and that I’ve probably been using it for weeks while I’ve been traveling with my MacbookAir and that’s completely false and one thing that Jason said is that I’m grateful to the tech crunch staff for handling this professionally and with dignity and i hope that Daniel immediately apologizes and gets some counseling…. Saying that I need to get counseling i think is a little overboard.
Andrew: But you apologized before, you’re apologizing now… lets move on to the next part of this interview.
Andrew: Teens in Tech. You’ve been talking about this a lot, what is Teens in Tech.
Interviewee: So Teens in Tech networks is a company I founded exactly two years ago in Feb. of 2008 and our goal is to help the youth publish their content online and to have numerous web properties all over the internet. We have our flagship product which is TeensinTech.com which lets anyone sign up for a free blog.
It’s the mothers, sorry.
Yeah I know it’s crazy
ok, alright, bye
My mom, if you want to talk about huge supporters, my mom and my dad are huge parts of the Teens in Tech conference. My mom just went to EA and picked up some games that were given away at the conference so she just called me to let me know that she picked up the games and she’s coming home now.
Andrew: From what I hear they’ve been incredible the last day.
Interviewee: Incredible my entire lifetime.
Andrew: Yeah, but through this situation it must be great to have them there.
Interviewee: Exactly and its great to have people that really do care about you.
Andrew: What about Intel? Can you tell people what you told me about Intel?
Interviewee: Sure, So as I mention I’m part of the Intel insider program and one of Intel’s PR representatives was scared that I was not okay and he reached out to me today and we talked and he made sure that i was okay and he wanted to know if I wanted to pull out of the program if I didn’t wanted to associate myself with Intel anymore and I said absolutely not, Intel has only done amazing things to me and I mean unless Intel is kicking me out of the program I’d like to continue on and stay and be a part of it.
Andrew: And you know what, we talked a little bit longer about your conversation with Intel. When these guys stand with you instead of tearing you apart, instead of taking their shots, it really says a lot about who they are as a company. I don’t know the name of the Rep. who talked to you, but I hope at some point or talk to him and thank him for being a human being in this base…. So okay, Teens in Tech, a company that you started.
Interviewee: Yes, I started it two years ago. Basically its goal is to have media properties online to help anyone publish their content online. One of our topics is a network for teen bloggers to collaborate and communicate. We have a product called Yazim which lets anyone create a topic.
Interviewee: so you can create a topic in real time and you can talk about that topic and stuff like that. We actually acquired them in January, so, just a few weeks ago we announced it–that we acquired them, even though the deal has been done for a couple of weeks now. We were itching to get it off of our chests. And then we also do the conference, the Teens in Tech conference, which is, you know, happening tomorrow. So, all of this is, in the matter of 2 days, all of this is coming together.
Andrew: What’s happening at the conference. I’ve gotta believe that more people are going to be interested in the conference after this.
Interviewee: The problem is, I don’t want to make this about me or what happened at Tech Crunch.
Andrew: OK. then I won’t focus there. I’ll focus on–what is this about, what’s the Teens in Tech conference about?
Interviewee: So, I like, I mentioned, I’ve been in this industry for 4 years and I go to a lot of conferences and I’ve never found a conference that actually brings youth and technology together. Two things that I’m very familiar with. Youth, seeing that I am 17, and technology–with is my life. And I never found a conference that brings actual teens to come and speak. The only other conferences bring 30 year olds who do market research and, there’s nothing like actually hearing actual teenagers telling you their story, and that’s what the conference does. Is we have people like Danny Trin who’s a student at University of South Carolina and a designer at Digg. We have people like Annika McKelby who’s 12 years old and she develops her first iPhone app in the summer. And then we also have people like Alex Nichols who started multiple companies. He started a T-shirT company, he started an IT consultancy company. And we have people like Joe Hewitt who has done some the most amazing things in the past. He single-handedly developed the Facebook iPhone app. He cofounded Firefox. He built Firebug. I mean, the man is one of the probably top 10 developers of all time and all these people are coming, you know, together, on a Saturday, to just talk and learn. And that’s what we’re all about is to help everyone learn about what’s going on.
Andrew: Well, I think we’re going to see. I think you’re going to see the support that there is in this industry for somebody who really wants to do something, for somebody who wants to help people get together, for somebody who wants to create. I think tomorrow you’re going to really see what this industry is about.
Interviewee: And tomorrow, and you know, I’ve gotten so many direct messages from people with their concerns and making sure I’m okay with phone calls and an entire day and last night was filled with phone calls and text messages and I mean that really shows who your true friends are–the people that reach out and want to make sure that you’re okay. And to everyone who has done that I have nothing to say but thank you so much.
Andrew: Alright, well I’m going to say this and I’m going to continue there. We probably should end the interview but I’m going to continue it even further because I’ve gotta tell you. I read tons of business biographies and every single one of them has at least big downturn–one opp–one place where the person either through his own fault or the cause of some crazy thing in the universe fell down on his face and often the world just turns his back on him. And obviously the person succeeds because I’m reading his biography of a successful person in business and you know where it’s going to go but I still always say: Why don’t these people come in and help him? Why don’t these people come in and show support? This is the time you want to get to know Richard Branson. When he’s the guy who everyone wants to meet when he’s flying out into outer space on shuttles, that’s not the time to get to know him, that’s not the time to show that you really are a supporter. It’s the time when Richard Branson’s going through an issue, going through a problem that he doesn’t seem like he can get out of–when he’s still in the record business and he’s in trouble with the Inland Revenue Service for something, that’s where you stand by him and you say, hey, all entrepreneurs go through this. That’s when you, that’s when who you are stands out. So I wanted to do this interview just to give you an opportunity just to be who you are and to be one of those people who are there for entrepreneurs at their hardest times.
Interviewee: A lot of people look at me and they say all you do is work, work, work. You probably have no personal life, but if you look right behind me, I have a drum set. I love music, music is one of my biggest passions. I love hanging out with my friends. I even got to a point where some of my friends work for me. One of my best friends is the director of Teens in Tech Games, which is our games blog.
[more of the transcript is coming.]