Dare Obasanjo, a Microsoft employee and the son of a former President of Nigeria, doesn’t like it when people disagree with him. I found that out in 2007 when Obasanjo vandalized the TechCrunch Wikipedia page in response to a post we wrote that was mildly critical of Microsoft’s hiring of a blogger to edit certain Wikipedia entries relating to Open Office standards. His actions as an individual and as a representative of Microsoft were outrageous.
Today he writes a post accusing us of “encouraging…garbage” on TechCrunch because we’ve reported on the market fall over the last week, pointing to three examples (out of over 100 posts last week) where we chronicle the fall of Yahoo and Google stock, and the Seesmic layoffs. A number of other blogs jumped on the bandwagon, calling for the negativity to stop (obviously none of these writers read TechCrunch this last week).
“The last thing we need is popular blogs AND the mass media spreading despair and schadenfreude at a time like this,” he says.
Our job isn’t to cheerlead the startup scene no matter what happens. Our job is to report the news as it happens and add our opinion as we feel is appropriate. So even if we were reporting nothing but doom and gloom, the criticism isn’t appropriate.
But in fact we’ve been fairly cheerful over the last week, reporting on a couple of dozen new startups and products, focusing as much as possible on the positive, and trying to defocus the mobs from blaming the venture capitalists for what’s happening in the markets.
In other words, the tone of our coverage hasn’t changed.
So what happened? You guessed it. We dared to disagree with something the Obasanjo had to say over on TechCrunchIT, which he immediately characterized as a personal attack. A few days later- zap! – he finds three posts that aren’t all roses and butterflies and makes a subtle accusation that suggests TechCrunch may be partly to blame for the hysteria in the market right now.
In fact, his post, which ostensibly calls for everyone to be positive no matter what, is really just a clever way of inciting the mob to blame (in this case) TechCrunch for the market problems.
This isn’t ok from anyone, and it really isn’t ok from a high profile Microsoft blogger. This is the second time Obasanjo has attacked us when we disagreed with him. It’s one thing to disagree. But it’s another to attack (first Wikipedia, then this F’d company comparison) when you face disagreement. And when you represent a company, whether you like it or not, you do it under their brand. In this case, given the weakness of Obasanjo’s argument, and the fact that he just had a one sided flame war with TechCrunchIT, his motives were clear. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.