Open letter to Mike Arrington: Please stop investing in startups

Hi Mike,

I’m one of your customers.

We don’t really know each other. We’ve chatted at a few events, you’ve covered some of my antics, but I’m mostly just a guy who reads TechCrunch a lot. I find it’s a pretty good place to see what’s important in the industry. And you and your team do some damn fine reporting on things the world wouldn’t know about otherwise.

I am product guy, not a media critic. But I’m a big believer that economic incentives shape behaviors in subtle and unmeasurable ways. And I think your decision to make investments in startups is going to make TechCrunch a worse product.

I can’t tell you exactly how. Are you going to be a little more likely to ignore competitors to your companies? Cover them, even when they’re not newsworthy, to show you’re not biased? Feel compelled to pull or throw punches, either to support or prove you’re independent of the companies you deal with?

I don’t know. But I think it’s going to happen, it’ll be subtle, and it’ll make TechCrunch worse.

I’m not making demands or threatening to leave. Just making a request, from one product guy to another: journalistic independence is a great feature. Please don’t cut it.

Best wishes,

Dan Shapiro