Was I Too Hard On Klout’s Joe Fernandez?

I like Joe Fernandez a lot, more than I like most people. He’s a true entrepreneur and badass, asking specifically to be onstage with me at LeWeb London because he knew that I had serious misgivings about his product, Klout. He told me he wanted a challenge and to put himself outside his comfort zone, both before and after the interview. Cool, anyone who’s not scared of being in the hot seat garners my immediate esteem.

So what was the result of a conversation between two people who respect the (red) pants off of each other? “The hardest grilling I’ve seen at a LeWeb conference in over five years,” wrote one audience member. Apparently the talk was so painful it led to countless critical tweets, multiple synopsis posts with titles like “Klout CEO gets sauteed in London,” “Klout clouted at Le Web” and allegations that  I “broiled” Fernandez out of some sort of personal vendetta. Both Joe and I were dumbfounded at the reaction afterwards.

You know, I am sort of notoriously awful at interviews, because I continuously interview out of my league, as in volunteer for the hardest, most public jobs even though I have insufferable social anxiety (two years ago I had never done an interview onstage, yet I somehow convinced Loic Le Meur to let me do LeWeb Paris and yes, bombed hard).

I’ve also realized this weird dichotomy about being a female interviewer after doing a bunch of these things: If you smile and are nice people think you’re being flirty. If you are serious and ask pointed questions, people think you’re being a bitch. You can’t win.

But, though a lot of audience feedback about this specific interview leaned towards the latter option, Joe and I actually had a lot of fun onstage and I for one learned a lot and thought he was authentic and sincere. “The story of Klout is me and the team not being smart enough to realize how challenging what we’re doing is and charging straight ahead into this crazy ambition,” Joe explained. Sound familiar?

“You can’t say October 26th [The Kloutocalypse] in our office without people flinching,” he went on, “[But] it bonded everyone much tighter. It fuels us to work harder and build better things. We love the challenge and the naysayers.”  Inspiring words, from someone whose concept of a world where text-based social communication is rewarded stemmed from the harsh reality of having his jaw wired shut for three months.

So no, I’m not the “sexy bar gurl [sic] disinterested in nerdy guy,” I’m a fellow traveler who wants to help someone else with an ambitious vision execute as efficiently as possible.

Do you guys think I was too harsh on Joe here? Be as honest as possible in the comments, and don’t worry about offending me; This job makes your skin so thick it’s more like a peel.