Nick Douglas Leaving Valleywag
Was Semel booed? – Valleywag Wow, popped up Valleywag this morning to see some kind of crazy scary green new logo staring back at me and then read the most recent article to learn that it’s more than just the logo that’s changed.
It looks like Nick Douglas, the personality who over the course of the past year became synonymous with the Silicon Valley gossip blog, won’t be reporting there any more.
Nick, whose main selling point when Valleywag launched was that he had no ties to anyone in the Valley and thus could feel free to piss people off, is off to something new.
Apparently Gawker big wig Nick Denton himself is stepping in until they can replace Douglas. I do have to say that already I think Denton is getting the blog off on the wrong foot though. First off, Valleywag has had a history of spilling the dirt on every “change in employment” in the Valley that they can get their hands on.
And now, with inside information on their biggest “change in employment” story yet, Denton refuses to spill the beans. Was Douglas fired? Did he quit? Douglas is a pretty young guy so I doubt the old “he’s taking time off to spend more time with his family,” line works. Denton should know better than to offer us a weak, “Nick Douglas, the kid we plucked from college to launch Valleywag, will be a great journalist. And we will look stupid for letting him go.”
“Letting him go?” So you are saying he was fired? Or was he not fired? Very, very weak for a gossip blog Denton.
According to Denton, Valleywag’s new mantra is going to be: “more money, a little less sex.”
Ok. So, whatever.
Nick Douglas is an interesting guy. He made a lot of secret enemies I’m sure.
Douglas and Arrington got into it. He supposedly wasn’t allowed to come to TechCrunch7 over it (but he did anyway and offered a bounty for photos of a streaker at the party). He would do things like post a photo of John Battelle flipping someone off (sorry, no link, Battelle does my ads), or the one that kind of blew my mind, write a post about the CEO of Google not washing his hands after he used the bathroom.
He posted on craiglist personal ads and thrived on publishing the things that nobody else would dare dream of publishing.
Most recently he posted on some sensitive Yahoo layoffs that were in the works.
Douglas once called me an awful evangelist. I didn’t feel so bad since he lumped Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki in the same group of bad evangelists as me. Subsequently he wrote that Kristopher Tate had made a brillant hire in bringing me on board for Zooomr (so it might appear that taking all those photos and kissing up to a gossip columnist can work after all).
Although Nick had plenty of critics, there were more than a few times when I snuck up on someone at a tech event or conference and saw Valleywag was up on their screen — even if they quickly closed it when they saw me coming.
Certainly Douglas’ reporting was meant to be entertaining. And he went to places that no one else would. But I do think that at the same time, despite all of the reasons to hate him, that he served a valuable function.
Maybe Web 2.0 (or I guess we’re calling it Web 3.0, or 2.2, or the semantic web or Web 2007 or whatever, I still can’t figure it out), is in a bubble. Maybe there is too much money chasing too few really good ideas. Maybe the meteoric rise of Google’s stock price isn’t a good thing. And maybe sometimes it takes a gossip writer to point some of the excesses out. And if nothing else, this was something that Nick was good at and was a useful role that somebody in the Valley needed to play.
It will be interesting to see where Nick lands next. Valleywag is not going to be the same without him and I suspect that you see the traffic drop off significantly there — Denton, you’ve got it wrong, although people won’t admit to it of course, they actually want to see more sex and less money, not the other way around.
I suspect that Nick could do a lot. He could write a book. He could get into video. He could publish his own gossip blog (and make more money than having to share with Gawker).
More from Bambi Fracisco here (it seems weird how Bambi doesn’t mention Nick Douglas by name in her post. She instead refers to him as “a 22 year old writer.” What’s up with that?)
More from Matthew Ingram here.