Nick Douglas, Valleywag and 10 Zen Monkeys

Posted on November 15, 2006

The New York Times DealBook is blogging about the recent turn of events at Gawker's Valleywag blog - the firing of Nick Douglas and the new medical thriller logo. DealBook mentions that Gawker Publisher Nick Denton would have liked to have gotten the Google-YouTube deal. That story was broken by TechCrunch and almost every tech blog would have liked to have broken the story.

In an online chat with the San Francisco Chronicle's Al Saracevic, Mr. Denton wrote that while he thinks it is appropriate for Valleywag to take on big players in the technology and venture-capital businesses - even when it comes to salacious rumors of sexual affairs - the plan now is to "pick less on civilians" and cover the business of the Valley a bit more seriously. (Apparently moving forward with this plan, Valleywag ran an extremely gossipy and speculative item on Tuesday that suggested, among other things, that Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp is interested in buying the Web site Facebook.)

"It would have been nice to get the Google-YouTube deal," Mr. Denton told MarketWatch's Bambi Francisco, as he explained the site�s new direction.

In an e-mail to Gawker Media staff obtained by DealBook, Mr. Steele cited Mr. Douglas's "repeated misunderstanding of the purpose of our sites." Mr. Denton, who had taken over as interim editor of the site, wants "to bring in someone as fearless as Nick Douglas, but with more authority," he wrote.

DealBook also printed an email from Gawker's Lockhart Steele that includes these comments by Nick Douglas from a 10 Zen Monkeys interview that played a role in his ousting.
We haven't gotten a serious legal threat so far. Well, a couple of minor ones, but we're still waiting for a good solid cease-and-desist and a good lawsuit. We're really trying to get News Corp. to sue us. They tried to stop the publication of some article [ed: originally intended for publication by someone else] calling MySpace a spam factory. And the author was revealing some of the background behind the company - that it wasn't really started by these two guys in their basement. And, since News Corp went to such lengths to stop the original publisher from publishing the article, we were hoping that if I actually published it on Valleywag, we could finally get sued. (Sighs) It didn't happen yet. I'm really disappointed about that.
10 Zen Monkeys has followed up with a "Sorry 'Bout that Nick!" post.
It's all a little confusing because, in his audio interview with RU Sirius, Destiny and myself, Mr. Douglas indicated that he was working on new projects, though he declined to say what they were. But since the announcement of his departure from Valleywag, we didn't really believe the speculations that he'd been fired. And never in a million years would we have thought he was, at least in part, fired because of what he said to us.

For what it's worth, consider this a public apology to Nick Douglas. But, maybe it's not something Nick regrets.

Based on the content of the above email, I'd say Gawker made a mistake. A big mistake.

So, Gawker's Valleywag is back to focusing a little more on the business aspect of the tech industry and Nick Douglas' name seems to be getting more well-known every day. It looks like it might turn out to be a good move for both parties -- providing Douglas finds a new job and Valleywag finds a way to break a big tech story now and then.

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