the always controversial sarah lacy

No More SarahLacy TM

Animal_05 I spent part of this week at a mini-blogger retreat in Manhattan Beach, hosted by JR Johnson, the founder of Lunch.com. Lunch.com has a broader mission of finding commonalities between people online and a hope that over time that can make the Internet and the world a nicer place, filled with more empathy, not less. There's a huge gulf that's emerging around people who spend a good deal of their lives online about whether the social Web is making the world a better place or a worse place-- and this was the centerpiece of a two-day debate between the Lunch folks and bloggers like Robert Scoble, Paul Carr, Julia Allison and me.

Of those four, I'm really the only one who doesn't make a living by being me. I make a living writing about business and technology, mostly for pretty serious publications. But somehow-- with the exception of Julia-- I get more personally attacked than the others. And it's not just online and not just anonymously. Aside from a few very close friends and my husband, no one knows the more disturbing things that have happened to me, not even my parents or my various employers. For the first time in my life, I don't know if I'll still be in this career five or ten years from now, not because I won't have a job, but because I just don't know if it'll be worth it anymore. My husband has already asked me-- in certain very desperate moments-- to quit it all and do something else.

Lots of people I know and don't know have debated why I get so much shit all the time. Is it because I don't punctuate my sentences the way Katie Hafner would like? Is it because I'm inherently just hate-able? Is it professional jealousy? Is it because I'm a woman? Or simply because it tends to drive traffic? I don't know, and likely I never will. But after two years of hate being slung at me nearly constantly and watching the toll it's taken on my loved ones, I've reluctantly made some changes.

There's always been a limit to how much I've put myself out there. Before I had a book to promote, you couldn't even find a photo of me online. I never write anything revealing about people in my personal life and anything I write about me is about me as a reporter and author in this world. That's my job as a columnist. There are about five first person pronouns in my last book. The one exception is this blog, which is aptly named SarahLacy.com and has a tiny readership. I've never had a Google Alert on my name, and I've never added people on Facebook who I don't know.

Increasingly, I've stopped replying to any comments on the blogs or sites I write for, with the exception of this one. I've recently stopped @-replying people on Twitter. I've stopped responding in any way to personal attacks. I've turned down scores of speaking gigs that aren't paid-keynotes for serious business or tech conferences. And I grant far fewer interviews than I used to. And since work on my new book has forced me to step down from day-to-day work on TechTicker, I'm not even on camera that much anymore.

I decided today I'm going to take that a step further. For the foreseeable future, Twitter is a professional tool for me, not a personal one. I just can't put myself or my loved ones through it anymore. In fact, I'm not even Twittering the link to this post.

It's sad that it's come to this. As someone who's been a reporter for nearly 13 years, I loved the early days of the social Web when blogging and Twitter and Facebook allowed me to interact with readers in a way I never could before. I loved getting to be a real, flawed human being, not just an anonymous, cold byline.

And, on a professional and financial level, it was hugely effective. I sold more books, I got a wave of speaking gig invitations, and far more spots on national TV and radio. When the New York Times repeatedly and publicly trashes you, you've gotten under their skin and you matter. I've not only side-stepped the volatility that nearly every other traditional journalist I know has gotten mired in-- I've actually profited from it. I have no doubt if I continued in this vein, I'd make more money. But money isn't what motivates me. I like writing about companies, and over the last six months I've realized how much I love going to countries where no one knows who I am, they just know BusinessWeek or TechCrunch or in some cases, my book.

Let me be clear-- I'll continue to be just as controversial, abrasive and outspoken in my analysis about companies and the industry as I always have been. That'll mean more trolls and more haters. If I didn't have people taking issue with my work, frankly, I wouldn't be doing it very well. And people will still lob personal attacks at me, because, well, that's just my life. But I have to believe in a world where millions are vying for personal attention online, if I'm doing everything I can not to get personal attention, things will get better on some level.

I had an argument with someone at Twiistup about Ben Mezrich's Facebook book and whether Mark Zuckerberg starting a company meant he'd "put himself out there" and hence it was somehow "less wrong" for an author to write an imagined series of things Zuckerberg had done and label it as non-fiction. I've long thought that was a bullshit argument akin to saying a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped. But it's especially pronounced these days when anyone on the Web has effectively "put themselves out there." None of us deserve to have lies published about us. None of us deserve to be verbally or physically attacked. And no matter what people say, it doesn't really get easier, and it hurts on a deeply human level every time. (See kangaroo above. It's not quite that bad...)

Is this post an indictment about a lot of what I've said and written about why the social Web is so powerful? A little bit, yeah. I've always been an optimist and some of the things I said at this two-day blogger retreat shocked me. Two years ago, I would have heartily agreed with Johnson's rosy statements about the good in humanity. Not anymore. As I wrote in my book, the Web isn't good or bad, it's just a medium for channeling raw human nature. What I wrote about the Web wasn't untrue-- I just gave human nature too much credit.

Comments

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Inherently more hateable. Sorry. Shrug.

My friend pointed me here and asked my opinion. I've never heard of you. Must your writing, from this particular post, sounds a tad self important and smarmy - hence I as a reader am left with an annoying taste in my mouth.

So I told my friend: inherently more hateable.

the only reason i'm leaving your idiotic comment up is that it beautifully proves my point. guessing "chico" isn't your real name either, which doubly proves it.

Does this mean that you don't value any level of conversation/exchange with your readers? You don't read comments, and now instead of actually communicating on Twitter, it's now merely your PR feed. How do you know what your audience wants/thinks? Or is it irrelevant to you?

The hate that someone who writes online with any degree of popularity gets is unnerving (oh, the stories I could tell...), but putting up a shell and going inward does nothing but make it worse. Far worse. You're basically saying "Pay attention to me, but I won't reciprocate," and that's a very difficult line to ride when your readers have the advantage of anonymity and the ability to just go elsewhere with a mouse click.

trent: i'm not saying "pay attention to me." i'm saying "pay attention to my writing if you want to know about startups." that's sort of the point of the post. if someone doesn't like my reporting-- they *shouldn't* read what i write. period.

i'm happy to engage with anyone who calls, comes up and talks to me in person or sends me an email-- and i do all the time. i'm not very hard to get in touch with. and clearly, i engage on this blog.

hi sarah, i'll confess i hadn't heard of you before today when someone tweeted a link to here. i feel sorry that the abuse has motivated this. i hope it works out for you.

i'm now interested in reading your columns.

all the best.

Good Luck. I know first-hand you're a great human being. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Hey Sarah, Great seeing you at TwiistUp. You were gracious, lovely, and engaging as always.

The anonimity of the web emboldens people to write/comment things they would NEVER say in person. These anonymous trolls should be ignored. Like hackers who destry others computers, anonymous commenters write terrible things because they can without detection. They are cowards from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Keep writing and sharing your insights.

Don Dodge

It's a shame that you're having to alter your strategies because of the people who insist on carrying their emotional baggage online or that have a deficit in their interpersonal skills. It's suprising that even so called educated people will fall in those categories.

The great thing is that all they have to do to change is to look at it objectively, plan out what they want to communicate, and put their view out there in a direct and yet pleasant conversational style to make a difference.

Your blogging is appreciated by many and it's good to know that you'll still blog and utilize your same style. It's to bad that you aren't keeping your brand going on Twitter, but it's understandable considering the circumstances.

I trust that you'll get the opportunities that make sense to you and that you can enjoy yourself in them to help enrich your life and your families.

@jstratford on most social sites.

great to see you too! thanks for the comment and hope to see you in another limo at TC50!

Sarah, I'm calling you out on this. The reason why is that 90% of what you publish is YOUR OPINION not hard-won-journalistic endeavors. You write what you think, right or wrong, controversial/page-view-hyping, non-objective opinions, and it's been effective. But I'm in 100% agreement with Trent. I view you more of an O'Reilly than a serious journalist. You know how to generate pages views and stir controversy. You get attacked for your journalistic skills (or lack thereof). Sure there is some jealousy involved, because people feel you haven't earned it. And that is why you get "attacked". So you're not saying "read my writing" you're in fact saying "read my opinion but if you disagree I won't acknowledge you."

By the way, you lost any respect I might have had for you with that blue-whatever colon cleanse AD you posted as a "tech article". I posted on Valleywag that Megan Ashra/JuliaA --> Sarah Lacy --> TC schill for them was just as nasty as JA's TC-hated paid-for trip.

Hi Sarah,

I admire your courage and your forthrightness.

The critics and knockers will always try to drag down anyone who is successful. That's how they make up for their own insecurities.

I know, I used to be like that myself, before I met some amazing people who helped me to hold a mirror up to myself, and what I saw was a sad, pathetic insecure creature who could only validate himself through trying to bring others down.

I've moved a long way from that sad me from the past, and try to be a builder, a giver and an encourager, not a critic or a knocker.

Always reminding myself "If you don't have something positive to say to or about someone, better to say nothing."

That doesn't prevent me from strongly arguing and debating for what I believe in, but I leave the ad hominems at home these days and that makes me a happier person.

I respect your decision to reduce your personal exposure online to the minimum amount possible, so as to maintain your professional profile and support your work.

Wishing you the best of luck with that.

yours truly,

Bradley C Hughes

not sure how *me* paying a company thousands of dollars over the course of several months for a product makes me a paid-for blogger. that doesn't make even an ounce of sense which is why i haven't replied to it until now. you're just repeating a lie over-and-over again and that's your problem and your karma, pal.

you say 90% of what i write--i'm curious if you've actually read *any* of the work i've done over the last 13 years or have read my book to inform that statement. because until i was *paid* to be a columnist and have an opinion i never did. ever. you can't get mad at a bricklayer for laying bricks.

but beyond that, let's look at the last few posts i did for techcrunch: three breaking news on the zappos merger and one on zynga and whether they were breaking laws including a lot of reporting of past case laws.

nothing you say is backed up by facts, michael. i'm sorry you hate me for reasons that are clearly based on bizarre emotions since we've never met. but i do appreciate you at least using your real name.

I'll admit one thing. I couldn't finish the book. I tried... I did.

You can't disagree with me that that article was not a tech article, had no place on the TC blog, and could be construed as a shill for the blueprint cleanse. I've never seen an ad like that on the TC site. I just have a hard time believing that you didn't get any samples from your buddy JA (they obviously didn't pay for theirs) that got you hooked.

[PS We have met actually. I know that Arrington HATES being told that. I hope you aren't, but we have met. Not that it matters.]

Oh, what ever! You're completely guilty of using your looks to promote your career and your writing and don't even try to play it like you haven't.

Good riddance, won't miss your "personality" at all. I suggest you distance yourself professionally from Julia Allison as the next career move- she is a joke and has only served to further degrade your reputation as you became affiliated as her bossom buddy.

Sarah-

Sorry to hear this but I don't blame you at all.

For what its worth, I was just speaking today with a well known tech blogger and he and I both were raving about you as a person and journalist!

Sarah -

Great hanging with you on the beach. I'm so sorry you're in the midst of dealing with all this crap ... you should be in a position to LOVE what your doing and not feel compromised by a few jerks on the Internets. It's painful to see someone of your talent and veracity even slightly affected by these trolls.

Keep your head up high keep the course, and let you be you. Don't let people's words get you down. You're bigger and better than that.

Hope to see you again soon.

All best,

Myles Weissleder

any company that sells goods over the web is an ecommerce company. techcrunch covers ecommerce companies. also, i love that someone who lectures about "reporting" never called me for a comment or did an ounce of fact checking/reporting on this. because it's pretty easy to "prove" that i've spent thousands of dollars with bpc. again, you clearly just hate me for some unexplainable reason-- because the reason you gave isn't based on any fact at all.

i'd love to hear how eight years of working for low pay at small business publications writing about finance and technology is taking a short cut. it certainly didn't feel like a short cut. you just don't know a thing about my career, obviously.

that's totally cool if you didn't like my book, i appreciate you giving it a shot. but you can't argue it wasn't based on reporting or it was opinion. i didn't write *one thing* about myself in that book and it was based on years and hundreds of hours of reporting. that's just a fact and even the reviewers who didn't like it granted that.

why don't you just stop visiting my site if you don't like my work? it doesn't make sense. part of you clearly thrives on hating me and saying nasty things about me. don't you find that a little disturbing? don't you have other things you could be doing?

hey bradley-

thanks for sharing. it gives me a bit more hope that maybe human nature isn't screwed. i have to say the last few years have totally changed my mindset. i feel bad even trashing a movie i didn't like now because i know good people probably did their best on it. sounds silly, but when it happens to you you realize that people are actually people and not just characters in our lives.

s

curious how i've used my looks in... covering tech news? in my experience a blow out doesn't help parse SEC filings. that doesn't even make sense. if it was that easy, don't you think you'd see more women in the business?

i am friends with julia and a lot of other people that aren't always the most popular with everyone. i don't see who i'm friends with as "a career move" i see them as, well, friends. but the idea that that should make a difference in whether i'm a good reporter or not is absurd. julia and i are in utterly different businesses: she is her product; i report and write on other people.

also curious why you visit a site called sarahlacy.com if you hate my personality, hank ;) but that's always the question with haters isn't it? if they really hated you, wouldn't they stop giving you more traffic?

thanks! paul and i were just talking about how much we enjoyed meeting you too!! let's hang out in the city!

s

Sarah, as someone who doesn't know you personally, I just think you screwed it all up with the terrible Mark Zuckerberg interview. You know, fact (and sad truth) is, to us it doesn't really matter who you really really are very deep inside. As readers or as audience, we never get in touch with that part of anybody. Your statements, attitude, looks, etc. is what matters to people in media. And if you're somehow feeling mistreated or misunderstood, maybe this whole business just isn't the right thing for you. Being a public figure (which you probably are in the US IT scene) requires having a thick skin. I mean, take a look at Scoble, Arrington, Carr. Those guys sure have a very thick skin (though they're sometimes whining too, but none of them left the media business so far). So, I think you'll either have to cope with it or leave it. Good luck, whatever your decision will be.

ohhhh now i see why i've gotten two comments about being "best friends" with julia -- who, btw, lives in new york and i rarely see or talk to. this post has apparently made it to the cruel nonsociety parody site. again, making my point for me. thanks guys!

comments have to be approved now. sorry everyone else, but i've been incredibly honest and forthright in this post and the comments, and i'm not going to deal with trolls.

good news? unless they like writing about start-ups, reblogging julia or whatever it's called won't be writing about me in the future thanks exactly what i wrote above.

You seem to be confusing people criticizing you with people criticizing your work. No real journalist can have a thin skin.

Hi Sarah,

just read your post (haven't read comments) about half an hour ago (and also remarked on it @ http://online.amplify.com/2009/08/02/rt-mathewi-sarah-lacy-is-the-femme-fatally-wounded ;) )

Now something else has happened to ME. A couple months ago I tweeted a reply (1 of thousands ;) but just now I found an blog article written in reply to my reply ( http://websites.amplify.com/2009/08/02/imho-hypertext-links-are-bogus-miguelstil ). I felt like: WTF?!? Why not reply back on twitter - or at least give me SOME kind of indication that you've ["you"=someone else ;] written about my ideas? But noooooooooo! To top it off: the topic being talked about was "online conversation". #OMG #LOL #LMFAO ;D

IMHO: This gives new mean to the term "faux pas".

:| nmw

ps/BTW - have you ever heard of WAR? ( http://sn.im/world-is-a-ghetto ;)

Sarah, Sorry you had to write this post A bigger picture take on all this is that the people who will have staying power in the community will be the ones who carefully orchestrate their statements for public consumption. It'll lead to a watering down of the Internet. It will be less entertaining and far less truthful, but the crowds will be appeased.

The number of people in our world has just increased so dramatically over the last couple of years. The end result is sort of inevitable. People just won't put their real selves out there any more.

it was a post about a startup, and certainly had a place on techcrunch. it's just retarded to accuse her of any kind of inappropriate behavior.

something Om said to me the other day - When elephants walk, dogs bark. I hope you keep walking, Sarah.

Wow, there are some seriously nasty people out there lurking about just waiting to post a load of vitriolic bile on your blog! Just remember they're the ones with the problem - not you. :)

I can't explain why people feel the need to be so vile - but I'm guessing the fact they can hide behind a keyboard has something to do with it.

I'm just a nobody - I've only been a journalist for a year - and I still get hateful comments on Twitter all the time from randoms. I just distance myself from them - they're not worth it.

Sarah, I don't think we've ever met either virtually or in the real world, but I think you're handling this exactly the right way. One of the of horrible sides of the idea that people should turn themselves into "personal brands" is that all-too-many folk think that makes you public property.

The semi-anonymity that people can post comments with combined with the idea (encouraged by social media gurus) that "YOU MUST LISTEN TO MEH!", and we've got to the point where a lot of discourse on the net is pretty unhealthy.

It's one of the reasons that I've long argued that the only approach with social media is to keep it to "real" friends. Now a real friend doesn't have to be one you've met in real life - it can equally well be someone you've conversed with regularly online - but it's the only way to get a lot of value without the shit. That doesn't protect you from blog comments, of course, but there's nothing wrong with not having comments at all if you're getting lots of shitty ones.

Anyway, good luck!

Sarah, the first time I heard about you was surrounding the whole interview with Mark Zuckerberg debacle... I did a bit of research on it and for the life of me could not understand what the whole fuss was about. Subsequently I've subscribed to your blog, follow you on twitter, Tech Crunch and bought your book. Don't worry, I'm not about to stalk you.

I use to blog, but I got fed-up with the cruelty in the particular blogging community I was hanging out. May be the hatred is a combination of all the things you've described. I honestly don't get it.

A popular blogger I follow was once asked whether she ever got "hate comments". "yes" she said, but she just didn't publish them. She did not even read through them properly. The moment it became nasty, she deleted it. She gets anything between a 100 and 200 "good" comments a day!

There is most definitely professional jealousy involved. People don't like to see other's success, and when they see their comment affecting someone, they thrive on it. The problem is not you, it is within themselves. They're sad. They've got nothing better to do!

You will probably find that the comments lie with 2 or 3 individuals, just delete them and move on, so that the 1000's of other people who do enjoy / appreciate your writing can get on with it!

This is the first of your posts which I've read - refered here by Paul Carr's tweet. Your style is fantastic and I look forward to reading this blog and your posts on TC. It's a sad loss for the internet and the blogosphere to lose you, even though it can keep your writing.

To those trolls, there's a reason why you're called trolls - you are lumbering, incoherant and generally stupid and self-defeating.

Isaac

Wow, I can't believe how much crap you put up with - even on *this* post.

I must admit, I've only recently (in the last year or so), caught onto the "Sarah Lacy" wave, but not because you are a woman or because I want to troll or make negative comments, but because you're a talented writer and you write about something that interests me.

I bought your book (twice), and read it with interest. I've followed you on Twitter and I've read your articles on BusinessWeek and TechCrunch and of course here on your own site. I read and enjoy because I like you writing style and I don't see the need for anyone to make negative comments against you or anyother writer. Paul Carr's first post to TechCrunch outlines the rules - and I agree, if you don't like what someone is saying, then go somewhere else, don't turn it into personal attacks.

Be sad to lose you from Twitter because of the trolls, but I hope to continue to read your writings - where ever they are posted or published.

Don't let the haters wear you down! We love you!

Sarah, I'm shocked at the amount of mean-spirited comments on this post. The vast majority of these comments are just validating everything you say.

People feel that a comment box is not an option, but a requirement and people who comment on the Internet (including myself at times) often forget that:

1) Nobody cares what you (the commenter) thinks
2) If you (the commenter) don't have anything nice to say, feel free to STFU. :-)

Nothing states it better than this: http://xkcd.com/386/

Best of luck regaining control of your online persona... As usual, all that really matters is that people keep paying you to write and your friends keep buying you drinks and hanging out with you and sadkids. :-)

-David

The problems you're experiencing, Sarah, are to do with features intrinsic to online communication. These features are neither good or bad - until people abuse them.

Firstly, there are no significant gatekeepers. Folks can post what they like. Secondly, they do so with relative impunity and pseudo-anonymity. Thirdly, it's fast.

The annoyance one might feel when reading words in a newspaper is fleeting and forgotten. Online, that flash of disagreement can instantly be translated into a screed of vitriol and posted as an immediate response to a blog or web article.

Of course, most considerate and polite people think twice before posting a response that is angry or that might be construed as abusive. But, sadly, not everyone is considerate or polite. And that, in itself, is a polite way of putting it.

You wonder aloud why "haters" come back to blogs they don't like. It's part of general decline in manners and respect for the feelings and opinions of others, but there are, in my opinion, two very key reasons here peculiar to the net:

* The delusion of equality. Commenting on a blog gives the reader an immediate right of reply. This is a good thing for debate, but it also lessens your authority as an author.

* Power grabbing. All abuse is about taking power from others - and that's exactly what comment trolling is; a form of abuse. It is almost universally exercised by those who feel powerless in their own lives. They make themselves feel good by taking their anger and hatred out on others in a medium that enables them to do so without fear of reprisal.

In your particular case, there's also the taint of misogyny. A gentleman further up the page suggests that you have traded on your looks to get where you are. When you consider the ratio of men to women in tech writing, this is a ludicrous and intrinsically prejudicial statement. It paints you as some kind of vacuous, bikini clad dolly-bird, cooing over iPhones - which you clearly are not.

I for one am sorry that you feel you have to take this drastic step back. It means that the trolls have won. I would suggest more stringent moderation; deleting comments and blocking abusive Tweeters before a total withdrawal. There is a clear difference between hearty debate and abuse. Censorship of the latter needn't mean abandoning the former.

Ultimately, the vicious and damaged are in the minority. Why should they be allowed to run the playground?

However, I respect your decision, wish you all the best and will continue to read and enjoy your work.

Ive been in and around tech for most of my life (and being an old dude, means thats a loooooong time). It seems that whenever a woman reaches a certain level of "fame" the same comments begin to come out: "she's slept with everyone", "she is only there because of her looks", "she doesnt add anything to the conversation", etc.

And its not just in tech. But the promise and problem of the internet is that, by design, it accelerates and facilitates (mis-)communication and (mis-)information. so, the awful stuff travels faster and further than it has ever done.

Do I agree with everything you have said or done, Sarah? No, and we have talked about it both in person and on our blogs. Do I think that you are impressively strategic with many of your choices? Absolutely, and we have talked about that as well.

But, do I hate that you, and other semi-public figures get bashed with what amounts to personal and professional jealousy? Yes. I hate it as much as I hate any form of discrimination or attempts to keep people "down" or in their "place."

Hate for hate's sake is a horrible byproduct of today's internet age, and not something that anyone should accept as business as usual.

Its just too damn disappointing.

I find Sarah's writing interesting and insightful which is why I got her book and visit this site. That is not to say I necessarily agree with her about everything but what she writes makes me think even when I don’t. Anonymous abuse says more about the person who delivers it than its target. Sarah has far more character than them.

Commenters should use their own name or keep quiet.

Oh, that is a great quote.

Seconded.

Sarah, why didn't you publish my comment yet? Am I a troll in your opinion?

It was my very first comment I posted on your site. I'm disappointed and sad for having invested energy in giving you advice you seemingly don't want.

Pete

sorry pete!! i had a flood all at once and yours got buried as i was going through and adding them. not personal. i've published almost every single one i've gotten actually.

i actually think i have pretty thick skin. but it does a hit a point when you get hate constantly for years that it wears you down no matter who you are. it's not any *one* comment. it's the endless torrent. it's a little hard to imagine unless you've been there and it's certainly something i talk about with people like arrington and scoble a lot, so i don't think i'm really that different from them. calacanis stopped blogging already and mike took a month off. it's wearing on all of us-- male or female, thin-skinned or not.

thanks again for the note.
s

to be clear: in this thread, i'm taking issue with someone calling me a "paid for" journalist who doesn't do reporting when there is zero evidence of that fact-- in fact there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. that is personal. if someone is saying i can't be a journalist bc of someone i'm friends with? that's about my personal life, not my work.

per the post itself- i'm talking about people saying i sleep with entrepreneurs when i've been with my husband for ten years or writing about fantasy gang-raping me in an alley. i'm talking about incredibly disturbing sexual comments and real world threats. think that's about my work? trust me-- this is not being "thin skinned." this is about my safety and it's about pretty serious harassment.

after all, i've been a journalist writing for national publications for more than a decade- people have criticized my work all over the place. i'm writing about the last two years of my life only here.

i'm not trying to be snippy, it's just very hard to imagine when you haven't been through it.

Sarah, just want to say your book on Facebook, Ning etc. was fantastic. The way you portrayed the personalities involved was fascinating. Read it numerous times at this stage. Caught on to your website after reading a great review of your book within one of the Irish tech marketing publications. You are spot on with your commentary about start-ups, can really relate to the excitement and endless possibilities of it all. All the best with the future and keep doing what you're doing, looking forward to your next book. Is mise le meas.

I'm very saddened to read this post, Sarah. The level of vitriol you describe here--amply substantiated by some of the mean-spirited comments--is appalling and unwarranted. The sexual innuendo is particularly disturbing. I am reminded of Kathy Sierra's very similar, very unhappy account, which precipitated her own abrupt departure from the blogosphere.

For the record, we don't know each other, I'm never met you, and I'm only tangentially involved in the tech industry. I do follow you on Twitter and occasionally read your reports on TechCrunch and elsewhere. And I was a journalist myself in the pre-Internet era, when I worried only about getting my facts straight--not about defending myself from ad hominem (ad feminem?) attacks.

Good luck in all your future endeavors, Sarah. Do what's needed to protect your privacy and your sanity.


Sarah, Boo to the haters and best of luck to you. You've had an amazing career and seem to surround yourself with great friends, too. Seems like you make pretty excellent choices for yourself all-around, I'm sure that this will be one of those, as well.


I was directed to this post from an article from one of your detractors, I have honestly not been following you personally but I do read TC daily so I am familiar with your work.

After reading this I have to say I am a bit disappointed with your conclusion. The world can be an ugly place in general, the more we focus on this ugliness the worse it becomes. Still to give up in the face of adversity is unimaginable to me personally.

I offer this advice torn from the pages of hip hop of all places. You got "beef" with a lot of people, you have become a polarizing figure for any number of reasons. Now I don't know what you normally do but in this particular blog I see you doing a lot of defending yourself. Why? I know it's a natural response but honestly what is the point? Every time you feed into the beef your giving some unknown a name and perpetuating the incident. Dead it, as they say, just ignore it. No need to give a name and platform to someone too lazy to create their own name and there is definitely no need to take on the stress involved in defending yourself. More importantly why should you even defend yourself?! Yes you should listen to everyone but that doesn't mean you answer to them. At the end of the day the only person you answer to is you. In defending yourself you give some sliver of merit to their claim. Do you know why there isn't an anti unicorn alliance? No need, there is no such thing as unicorns. Savvy?

Positions I take have been criticized and I have been called egocentric on more than one occasion. Good. I jokingly call myself a megalomaniac because there is some truth to it, it's what allows me to function amidst opposition. Your important, what you do is important, not because anyone says it is but because you think it is or you wouldn't be doing it. I see people online become so embattled with abstract concepts they forget who they are and why they do what they do the way they do it. When you let others forcibly shape your policy you give up an important piece of yourself and I don't think anyone is worth that price.

Sarah, in addition to people hiding behind their computer screens lobbing insults and vitriol to compensate for, who knows what, this post is a classic example of another problem ... lack of reading comprehension skills. Whether its intentional, innocent, or the result of a lack of intelligence, is anyone's guess.

But anyone that read your post and then begins their comment with "Does this mean that you don't value any level of conversation/exchange with your readers?" is clearly lacking in the comprehension department or just looking for a fight.

Sorry you have to deal with these fools. I applaud you're desire to ignore them. They don't warrant attention.

Wow Just flicking through some of these comments is enough to make me think something has gone seriously wrong in the online world. And the fact you still _are_ responding to some of these __insane__ comments says much about your own ethics.

To quote yourself up above: " it's not any *one* comment. it's the endless torrent.". Constantly facing down the buggers is emotionally draining, but your efforts are very much valued - clearly by a bunch of folk much smarter than I.

Quite apt!

Hi Sarah,

I'm a TechCrunch reader and, as such, have enjoyed your posts there.

When you've attained the degree of influence that you have garnered, contending with some amount of detractors seems inevitable.

However, I really don't get why there is any necessity to dignify such invective commenting, even in this post (or anywhere else), by offering them publication.

I respect that you are reflecting transparency, but I believe you will be doing your readers, and yourself, a favor, by simply deleting any comments that can't convey an opinion without some rudimentary foundation of human respect.

Personally, I don't want to read such spiteful stuff and I would bet that a majority of your readers don't want to, either.

If the only comments (pro or con) that were published were those that could offer a viewpoint without an intent to debase another, then you would begin to attract only comments that could offer opinions framed in a civilized posture. You would be raising the standards of all commenters (detractors included), since they would be forced to convey themselves with some modicum of courtesy in order to be published.

I will continue to read TechCrunch, and your articles there. But I'd like offer a suggestion:

I believe that collaboratively, you and the TC crew could contribute to raising the standards of the blogosphere, by refusing to give vitriol any voice. I wouldn't be surprised if the quantity of comments would actually rise, by establishing some posting guidelines that require commenters to present themselves in a way that reflects a modicum of self-respect. In this way, readers who would otherwise find such content engaging, would not then be repelled by the acerbic and mental waste of a few.

Anyway, wishing you the best. You've achieved a considerable amount in your career so far. Rather than carry the weight of the trolls, just cast them off and they won't be able to keep up when left to their own devices.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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Srah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is an award-winning reporter who has covered high-growth entrepreneurship for more than fifteen years. She is the founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of PandoDaily.com, the site-of-record for the startup ecosystem. She lives in San Francisco.

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