Canadians Unite To Fight Off The "Feared TechCrunch"

I really miss former TechCrunch writer Duncan Riley. But at least he gave us a gift just before he left that just keeps on giving – his May 5 post calling BS on a Canadian startup called MediaScrape and its founder, Tyler Cavell.

Cavell took issue with our post, demanded an opportunity to respond (although he’d already done that in a comment to our original post), and threatened vague legal action. We posted everything, as we always do. Cavell wrote a long rambling comment, rescinded his legal threat and, as an afterthought, randomly defamed his own “drop-out, former cocaine-addict, delusional” cousin.

Cavell also claimed to be a “former journalist in the UK, South Africa and Canada,” although we can find absolutely no record of anything he’s ever published with a byline. And we looked pretty hard.

But he wasn’t done, and apparently Canada has his back. The Montreal Gazette wrote a puff piece about Cavell and Mediascrape today, and they even lined up a nice supporting quote from a Microsoft Canada evangelist. Here’s the most interesting part of the article (bolding has been added):

This rift exploded last week when the feared tech blog TechCrunch wrote a post that questioned some claims made by MediaScrape. The blog’s writer, Duncan Riley, wondered why the company keeps its investors secret and said its website had the “general look and feel of a site done on the cheap.”

Things turned worse when, below that blog post, two anonymous commenters claiming to be his ex-employees accused MediaScrape of being a bogus PR scheme to raise money.

TechCrunch closed the post to new comments, so Cavell couldn’t respond in the blog itself. So he sent an email threatening legal action.

Anyone who has followed bickering among bloggers may know that a lawsuit threat is an invitation for ridicule. Bloggers have figured out that if they publish the threat on the blog, its sympathizers will swarm the litigator with mockery on other blogs, hoping the instigator backs off.

This is what happened, and now some of the top results on a Google search for MediaScrape point to unfavourable comments.

Yet this hardly seems to faze Cavell. He doesn’t feel he needs to satisfy doubting bloggers.

“Screw them,” he said. “We’re a private company. I don’t have to tell them shit.”

The article also quotes David Crow, a tech evangelist at Microsoft Canada, who says “the Internet business culture of playing nice with bloggers is optional, and a boon for small startups that don’t have the backing Cavell has.”

I think the article speaks for itself, but I’ll add a couple of points. First, a cursory glance at the original post by the Gazette author, Roberto Rocha, would have shown him that Cavell did leave a comment to the original post. That would have taken him all of about 5 seconds in research. As with all of our posts, comments were closed automatically two weeks after publication to reduce spam.

Second, we don’t post legal threats in the hope that people back off. To the contrary, we post them because they are highly entertaining and make for good content. Of course, we run these by our lawyers first, and if they ever tell us we’ve actually done something wrong, we’d be quick to fix it. That hasn’t happened yet. We’re 5-0 against these lunatics.

Third, the “feared Techcrunch?” We’re a blog about startups, for heaven’s sake. Most people accuse us of being cheerleaders.

At least one Canadian calls this like it is.