NYC's Top VC Fred Wilson Fails To Avoid Media Spotlight
AdWeek reporter Dylan Byers published an interesting profile of Fred Wilson, the New York City based venture capitalist.
It's not a bad profile, I learned some things I didn't know. But Mr Wilson declined to participate in the article, instead, he wanted AdWeek to write a profile on one of his startups.
It's a strange situation because Mr Wilson is not a shy person. He regularly publishes on his blog AVC: Musings of a VC in NYC and also includes personal details about his family and his musical tastes. That's not the behavior of someone that shuns attention.
Yet when AdWeek came calling, he didn't want anything to do with the article and prohibited his colleagues from talking with the magazine.
It's understandable that AdWeek would be interested in profiling Mr Wilson because he is a very successful VC who is also outside Silicon Valley -- something that's exceedingly rare.
Also, he is a very visible spokesperson for the revival of New York's tech community. And there are lots of great things to say about the New York startup scene that AdWeek's readers probably don't know about because they don't read his blog.
It all seems a fairly innocent desire by AdWeek to profile an increasingly important person, who is involved in some high profile companies that have clear relevance to AdWeek readers. Yet Mr Wilson's response is to cry foul, as if he is being unfairly treated. It doesn't add up.
His refusal to talk with AdWeek forced the magazine to research the article from other sources, which means the quality of the piece suffered. If the prime source, i.e., Mr Wilson, had agreed to be interviewed then the article would have been measurably improved and he would have been able to correct any potential errors, misconceptions, etc.
I remember a few years back when Hewlett-Packard refused to speak to some journalists because the company did not like to be questioned on some sensitive subjects. The move backfired because HP was unable to respond to direct questions and then had to deal with the fall out when reporters published stories it didn't like.
As Richard Edelman, from Edelman PR, once told me, it's always better to "get them into the tent." It's always best to have a dialogue and build a relationship with a reporter than to fob them off and tell them they should instead be writing a story that you want written. You might then get the story you want written.
Looking at his previous articles at AdWeek, Dylan Byers seems to be a good journalist. He's young, his bio states:
He previously worked as an editorial intern at Roubini Global Economics and from 2009 to 2010 served as an editorial intern at Lapham's Quarterly. From 2006 to 2007 he was the editorial intern at The New Yorker.
I can certainly understand that Mr Wilson might feel slighted that a recent intern was assigned the task of writing his profile. His is an interesting story, and surely deserving the attention of a senior editor at AdWeek, and which probably would have elicited a far warmer response from Mr Wilson.
By the way, the comments section of the AdWeek story is worth reading. It's a great opportunity to brown nose Mr Wilson, (especially if you might be looking for some startup capital).
But it all smells a bit fishy to me and it makes me wonder what else might be going on with Mr Wilson, and at his firm Union Ventures. It's probably a story worth digging into...
Please take a look at the article, it's currently the most popular one on AdWeek. And Dylan Byers looks like a very promising young journalist.