The Kernel has been criticised in some quarters for our obsession with Tech City and its chief executive, Eric van der Kleij. Fair enough: as ever, we are receptive to criticism. So here are ten other people we can’t stand.
Blue-sky economics blogger Umair Haque (pictured, above) is what would happen if you put Deepak Chopra and Paul Krugman in a blender. He may have persuaded the Harvard Business Review to print his witterings, but his tweets betray all the sophistication of a teenage goth who’s just discovered Derrida. Haque’s endless stream of meaningless platitudes and his disastrous interview with Twitter co-founder Ev Williams at SXSW in 2010 would by themselves have been enough to get him on this list, but what we really object to is how thin-skinned this new media pseud can be.
Rumour has it that on reading one of Haque’s more pretentious “academic” papers, a leading American intellectual commented: “My, this ‘skunk’ stuff must be even stronger than I thought.”
Last seen: lashing out on Twitter at anyone with the temerity to tease him for such cringeworthy epistles as: “It’s kinda LOL how our national discussion is like competing determinisms sock-puppeting civilization to death. Or not so LOL.” Deep!
We’re reluctant to say that Andrew Mason is the sociopathic overlord of a scummy pyramid scheme, but Andrew Mason is clearly the sociopathic overlord of a scummy pyramid scheme. Groupon’s share price is now under $10, less than half its IPO value, as investors, customers and retailers alike realise that the company is in deep shit. What’s more, Mason’s Chicago-based empire has been responsible for a depressing glut of group and daily deal business models that have bombarded consumers with coupons, vouchers and myriad other annoyances. Groupon’s accounting methods and constant scandals bring shame and ignominy on the internet sector.
Last seen: turning down $6 billion from Google, in what will come to be seen as the single dumbest act of the social web era.
Here’s another windbag who should be put out to pasture: Jeff Jarvis, whose latest book, Public Parts, was brutally eviscerated by author, academic and Kernel hero Evgeny Morozov. True fact: during a recent re-run of Dad’s Army on American TV, Jarvis kept being mistaken in the street for the actor who plays Lance Corporal Jones.
Jarvis has made a career out of smirking at richer, cleverer people, while offering very little in the way of coherent theory to the media companies he likes to ridicule. Banging on in repetitive 140 character soundbites, Jarvis is what would happen to a pub bore if you force-fed him an undergraduate media studies dissertation from the local polytechnic before dousing him in Ipecac.
A word of advice, Jeff. The general public’s appetite for digital information would be a lot stronger if you could be persuaded to stop live-tweeting every colonoscopy. Incidentally, since you’re an expert on the crisis in mainstream publishing, have you got any tips for all those remainder bookshops desperately trying to shift heavily discounted copies of Public Parts?
Last seen: sobbing uncontrollably in the basement of Barnes & Noble, wondering why his latest bombastic compilation of tweets didn’t make the bestseller lists.
Through his blogging empire Mashable, Pete Cashmore has basically ruined technology journalism forever. Ever wondered why every sad act in-house PR and marketing blog in the world now desperately appends “[EXCLUSIVE] [VIDEO] [UPDATE]” to its headlines? That’s our Pete, who has taken what was previously a respectable product testing method – A/B – and applied it to drivel about Facebook churned out by socially subnormal drones.
We’d ask how he sleeps at night, but we know some smart-arse would say: “on a pile of money, surrounded by hookers”. That must give Cashmore some comfort – particularly since, if the blogs are anything to go by, the poor dear has been piling the weight on recently. A word of warning, Pete: with your genetic inheritance, it won’t take many deep-fried Mars Bars to turn Jared Leto into Robbie Coltrane.
Last seen: cutting himself as he attempts to trim the beard on his totally rectangular face. Or, in the changing rooms of the Aberdeen branch of Gap, wailing: “No, I’m definitely a 30. Maybe this is incorrectly labelled?”
Julie Meyer’s vocal but hilariously misplaced cheerleading for Christina Domecq at the height of the SpinVox saga was inexcusable, particularly because by that point everyone knew the translations were going on in call centres and SpinVox had little to no technology. The stories about Ariadne Capital’s “services” for entrepreneurs, which seem to consist of billing start-ups £15,000 for some furious name-dropping and the odd email intro to VCs, are beginning to leak out as well.
The sheer number of start-ups that have tanked after accepting her advice or being foolish enough to settle her invoices is staggering. Here’s a handy tip for start-ups: if you’re wondering why Lily Savage has crashed a Seedcamp afterparty in an outrageously loud silk shirt and twin set, take a closer look.
Last seen: embarrassing the entire European technology industry with a car crash performance on BBC Question Time. Entrepreneurs everywhere had their heads in their hands.
What Arianna Huffington lacks in social graces she makes up for in hairspray and testosterone: until earlier this month, when Huffington was forced into a humiliating climbdown and had to accept a scaled-back role at AOL, no man who ever squared up to her had lived to tell the tale.
Since her bosses realised that perhaps Arianna wasn’t the saviour of the content industry after all, but had instead merely pocketed millions of dollars on the hard work of others, Medusa has been on the warpath, with no prospect of an EU bailout to restore her fortunes. Expect to see another high-profile dust-up with a male colleague any day now. Hint: jokes about turning your ex-husband queer rarely go down well.
Last seen: being unceremoniously booted out of Tim Armstrong’s offices, tape measure in hand, insisting she was only jotting down the ceiling height “for a feature”.
The executives at Condé Nast
“Condé Nast is home to some of the world’s most celebrated media brands,” boasts the company’s website. Well, yes, but it’s also home to Reddit. It can’t be repeated often enough that Condé Nast owns the web’s largest and most disgusting repository of child pornography, bestiality and even discussion threads about how to beat and rape women, as pointed out once again on Twitter yesterday by Olivia Solon of Wired.co.uk, a magazine website owned by… whoops, yes, Condé Nast.
Whoever at the company is responsible for the grubby ploy of “spinning out” that cesspit of hatred and bigotry while retaining total ownership (social responsibility karma points earned: 0) should be disposed of immediately.
Side note to the Condé Nast board: however beautiful the Vanity Fair iPad app, your flagship magazine will never achieve digital credibility while it’s edited by an elderly Canadian social climber who shares a hairdresser with Dame Edna Everage. What’s Graydon Carter going to do next to burnish his liberal credentials? Throw a party for the Black Panthers?
Last seen: continuing to publish liar, plagiarist, slanderer and serial fantasist Johann Hari, whose latest op-ed for GQ, on the subject of – wait for it – media ethics brought shame on the magazine and its editor, Dylan Jones.
With a stunning lack of self-awareness, newly ennobled venture capitalist MG Siegler has this year been blasting a genre of technology journalism he did more than anyone else to create. Spinning out banal observations about Apple and dreary movie analogies into 600-word snoozefests that somehow together represented, depending on who you talk to, up to half of TechCrunch’s traffic at the zenith of his verbal diarrhoea, Siegler was the Forrest Gump of tech reporters.
Now he’s in charge of other people’s money, but, regrettably for the tech blogosphere, since becoming an investor his “insights” have continued apace. Siegler continues bang on about Apple on his personal blog with soporific meanderings accompanied by posters for whatever Robert De Niro movie he last pretended to enjoy.
Last seen: hanging around the Genius Bar in the Apple Store on Market Street, San Francisco, pleading for someone to show him how to use pinch and zoom.
Founder and chief executive of Grindr, Joel Simkhai is responsible not only for bringing the creepy world of casual sexual encounters to the iOS platform but also for having such lax security measures in place that every opera singer, trolley dolly and member of the clergy were shitting themselves in January after a large-scale security breach. (Rumour has it that the Affirming Catholicism wing of the Anglican Church – unofficial slogan: women in the sanctuary, boys in bed – had negotiated a bulk discount on the paid-for version for its priests.)
Seriously though, Joel, why not rebrand Grindr to reflect its changing demographic? Free with every download: a fetching beige raincoat with a complimentary bottle of Dabitoff for those pesky stains.
Last seen: laughing all the way to the bank at the poor sods who need an iPhone app to get a shag.
No list of internet villains would be complete without the man responsible for breaking the web, siphoning off content to a walled garden and serially abusing private data. The latest solecism committed by Facebook is a new generation of social reader apps that demand to be let in to your profile before any content can be viewed. Do I trust the Guardian with my private data? Do I buggery.
As if a history of privacy abuses weren’t bad enough, Zuckerberg is dropping the ball on the Facebook IPO at the moment: investors aren’t at all impressed with the company’s failure to monetise mobile users, nor with his repeated lateness and discourtesy. Now Zuck’s hairline has started to recede, it’s time for him to grow up, buy a suit and maybe ditch the contacts for those coke bottle specs he likes to wear in private.
Last seen: snooping on your gap yah photos, trying to sell you plane tickets to the Gambia.
Since publishing this article we have been inundated with requests from our British readers to rectify a serious omission. So here it is.
David Allen Green
This Brummie lawyer just can’t stop spamming Twitter with self-important pronouncements on human rights legislation that make the most constipated High Court judge sound like Chris Rock. He’s also as slippery as any politician when he’s put on the spot: witness his sudden attacks of squeamishness as soon as he suspected that his criticism of Johann Hari might hand a propaganda weapon to the Right.
By turns chippy and grand, Allen Green is nonetheless capable of showing courage in the face of physical infirmity. In the words of one friend, “He’s a martyr to his flatulence – though he only lets his guard drop when he gets over-excited in court.”
Last seen: blaming the dog.