Earlier this week, PandoDaily acqui-hired Las Vegas-based journalism startup NSFWCORP, according to a blog post by PandoDaily founder/editor Sarah Lacy, officially bringing the “tech blog circle jerk” full circle.
Neither PandoDaily nor Vegas Tech Fund (head investors in NSFWCORP) responded to requests for financial details, but judging by NSFWCORP founder Paul Carr’s blog posts and weekly subscriber e-mails describing his startup’s struggles, Pando did not have to break the bank.
Carr and Lacy are longtime friends from their days working together at TechCrunch, and Paul is already a regular contributor to PandoDaily. In an e-mail to subscribers, Paul also noted that he will be selling the entire contents of the Las Vegas NSFWCORP headquarters in a live online radio show this Monday, in preparation for the team’s move to Pando’s San Francisco headquarters.
Business failure aside, the NSFWCORP venture gave Carr a chance to build his own personal brand of shameless Internet flaming — the man has quite literally never met an investor, commenter or reader he won’t personally antagonize. Nearly every article about the acquisition mentions Carr’s ‘aggressiveness,’ and indeed, Carr has found his reputation useful as an excuse for why NSFWCORP struggled to raise additional funding rounds, saying, “You only have to look at NSFW and see that we have been relentless in attacking CrunchFund…and we have been relentless in mocking the stuff Tony Hsieh is doing in Vegas… of course it has [had an impact on financing].”
When wielded with grace, a strong independent voice is an important virtue for journalists. However, Carr’s loose leash on both his own emotions and those of his writer’s hints to a more fundamental reason for NSFWCORP’s failure: Paul was an undisciplined leader. To the very end, NSFWCORP had literally no editorial strategy, aside from what writer Mark Ames calls “f*cking with power,” and Carr spent so much time belittling Business Insider and responding to any and every Twitter hater that it’s hard to believe he had much time learning the ins and outs of running a company.
Simply put, Paul is a much better pundit than entrepreneur…or editor. That’s fine, not everyone is cut out for management.
Lacy’s numerous critics point to her Silicon Valley coverage as navel-gazing and flattering, rather than investigative — her tight relations with big-name VCs like Andreessen Horowitz have helped her raise over $3 million in funding, although she maintains her editorial stance is completely independent from investors.
The big question moving forward is how Lacy will meld with her new NSFWCORP writers, who she says will be focusing on investigative journalism and the rise of technology entrepreneurs in the public policy space. Mark Ames — previously famous for running an aggressively anti-establishment expat newspaper, The eXile, in Moscow — has already published a Pando post critical of eBay chairman and Glenn Greenwald business partner Pierre Omidyar.
It’s only a matter of time before Lacy’s cozy friendships with the Silicon Valley elite clash with her team’s investigative forays….indeed, the next few months are a great chance for her to prove some of her haters wrong, and perhaps tickle some of the tech titan hands that feed Pando. Either Sarah will get the best of both worlds with loving investors and a top-notch longform journalism team, or we’re about to see some very entertaining Twitter feuds.
Best of luck, Pando/NSFWCORP — enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts.