The MothersClick mess is slowly sorting itself out. The founder emailed today and apologized. I apologized back.
What this comes down to is this – I didn’t write about MothersClick because I don’t remember being pitched by them or their firm. Maybe it was a hellish day and I missed the email or call. Maybe I or Marshall looked at it an passed for some reason. I really just don’t remember, and a recent email purge has wiped out any history on my end.
I did write about Maya’s Mom, a competitor. I already know the founder and had written about them before. Updates are always easier than new reviews. Plus Maya’s Mom raised an angel round from a very well known group of individuals, which is news itself. So I made a recent post about Maya’s Mom in complete innocence, not even thinking about the storm that would result. Trust me, if I had known, I would have just not written about them. The fallout has all come this week, while I was on vacation, and today I flew home early to be able to deal with the media attention this has gotten. Not the way I wanted to spend my time away.
But the PR Firm post has really made me think. I don’t want companies to spend cycles with PR firms talking about strategies for getting in front of us, and how to deal with not getting a post on TC. I also don’t want entrepreneurs to be afraid to take a shot at me, or for PR firms to be giving clients advice on how to “stay on my good side”. We’re all human, and I’m used to taking shots. Plus, controversy is interesting. When the founder of MothersClick emailed and apologized, I assumed she did that because she felt that it was the right thing to do. My apology back was certainly heartfelt. I don’t want to have to wonder if that apology was drafted by her PR firm and sent to me as a business decision (and I’m assuming that isn’t the case).
Putting journalists up on a pedestal is very old media. Everything about TechCrunch, and most blogs, is about access. Comments are open, for better or worse. My email is on the about page. We have a company submission form. We even hired an analyst who’s primary job is to go through submissions and make sure we don’t miss good companies.
But clearly that’s broken, as evidenced by this encounter. MothersClick is a perfectly good startup that we would normally cover. Lots of other people did, if that means anything. But we missed it, and I’m pretty sure we miss a lot of others, too.
I don’t know what the right answer is to fix this, but it’s something I’m thinking about.
And I’m sorry if I sound like a 13 year old girl writing in her diary. Maybe I do. But I am just as new to all of this as everyone else, and I stay up at nights thinking about how to do the right thing.