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Earlier today I reported that Robert Scoble has been trying to raise an angel fund. Robert says he told me that this wasn't the case. It appears we got our wires crossed. In the interest of transparency, here is the entire email exchange I had with Robert today about this.

Me: Hey Robert, I was talking to a VC last week who said he was recently offered the chance to invest in an angel fund that you would manage. Were you trying to raise a fund? Are you still?

Robert: Hah. There is some bar talk about this but nothing official yet. I am interested but not anywhere close and certainly I wouldn't be managing it. Who was it?

Me: Can't say, it was off the record. If you wouldn't manage it, what would be your role? Have you got commitments from some VCs yet? Is this similar to what Mike Arrington is doing with CrunchFund? What would you call it? ScobleFund?

Robert: I have no idea. It never got to that point. I doubt I would be more than a pretty face on any such fund.


That's our exchange. I took this as an acknowledgement from Robert that the VC with whom I spoke was telling the truth. I still don't see Robert's response as a denial.
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48 comments
 
Just to explain what's going on here. If Dan had done real journalism and not a drive by in email that I didn't understand the context of I would have explained. At the World Economic Forum there is a group led by Rich Strombach, which is an informal set of folks. They are thinking of doing their own fund and wanted to know if I'd be interested in joining them. I told them that I'm always interested in business ideas so to put something together and let me know what that might look like. I told them that I'd consider any such request after I have it in writing. I have NOT heard back yet from them and have NOT signed any documentation and have NOT asked any VC to invest in any such fund. If anyone is hitting up VCs on my behalf I sure would love to know that. My phone number is +1-425-205-1921 and my email is scobleizer@gmail.com
 
What part of "it never got to that point" don't you understand? That means there is no fund and I'm not raising a fund. Period. That said, if you want me to front a fund, I'd always be interested in talking. No harm in talking. The minute I change my career path everyone online will be the first to know.
 
Not to put any pressure on you, +Robert Scoble, but it would be pretty cool if you'd do something like that.

Then again, you're also great at what you're currently doing, so we win either way.
 
That sounds like a denial.

That said, I think it would be perfectly fine for +Robert Scoble to take a turn into running an angel fund. He's got a great eye for spotting fresh ideas. I think it's inevitable. :-)
 
..and in this week's episode of "as the blogger turns". All the public blogger infighting here on g+ has been amusing / hysterical. Can't wait until the other ones smell the blood in the water and chime in. I'm gonna go grab the popcorn again.
 
Love that, "there is some bar talk about this but nothing official yet."
 
A new way to use G+! Lurk and watch public blogger battles. My smartphone is getting hot :-)
 
Denial or not (I don't care), the thought "if mg could do it..." had to cross your mind at least once. I know it crossed mine and i don't know the first thing about it.
 
+Robert Scoble I love how you've handled this situation
1) full transparency on what happened according to your side
2) responding directly on the related posts and all of them
3) not responding as a separate post to your own circles as that would actually spread the bullshit

+Dan Lyons seems like you tried to target the wrong man. Obviously you didn't think this through well enough. The "for sale" image was really despicable...
 
+Andrew Yarnall of course I thought about it. The thing is I hate meetings and committees. Being a VC means your life is almost wholly those. So, why would I want to ruin my life?
 
I'm with Scoble on this. Dan, love your stuff but you may have pulled that trigger way too early, and maybe should retract imo. However, your MG/MA article of last week was spot-on. Don't put Scoble in the same basket as those #$@&^%$.
 
In my conspiracy-addled mind, I think this ties back to the mg / Lyons catfight. Scoble was pretty much publicly absent on the whole spiel from the path issue to Lyons pointing out the crunchfund mafia tactics. Perhaps Lyons tried to bridge the gap based on that public silence. Not a stretch, considering the "bar talk".

I'll go put my tinfoil hat away now....can't we all just get along?
 
bar talk should not lead to a blog post that states that Scoble is doing the same as MG/MA. Because if it does (too) often, Dan will become Eldar Murtazin; cute, but too much smack and you become a tabloid w/ no credibility.
But I'm only saying that 'cause I really enjoy Dan lyons, way back to the days of "Double D's" and "fake Steve jobs"
 
+Dan Lyons I realize that "unnamed sources" are part of your biz, but I think it bit you this time. It's a risk journalists take... and the accountability to accuracy rests with Journalists.
 
Dear Robert Scoble:

If I've made a mistake about your interest in getting involved in angel investing, I apologize.

As I told you, a VC told me he'd been approached by another VC and offered an opportunity to invest in a fund that you would be involved with.

I asked you about it, and I understood your response to mean that you had talked to people about this but there was, as you put it, "nothing official yet."

You mention talking to Rich Stromback at Davos. I talked to Rich this afternoon and he confirmed that you expressed interest in joining an angel group that he is trying to organize, though it's still far from finalized.

However, I also went back to my original VC source, and he said the pitch he received had nothing to do with Rich Stromback. He says he was contacted six months ago, long before Davos, by another venture capitalist.

My source says: "I didn't talk to Scoble directly but rather someone who said they talked to Scoble and they were seriously considering investing, and wanted to know if we were too. We weren't."

Is it possible that a venture capitalist was going around approaching other VC firms looking to raise money on your behalf but without your knowledge or consent?

My source is a top guy at a serious venture firm. I don't think he would make this up. But if that's the case, then this is all very strange, and I'm sorry to have played a part in it.
 
I am not involved in any other conversations about venture investing or such. I have no idea who that might be or why they might be using my name. I sure would love to know more about who is using my name in these contexts. I have no fund. Period.

Robert Scoble - Is it anything to do with Bill Gross? https://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts/DqUMn8Ae9ro answers that. That's the only other discussion I've had about my career in the past 18 months.

And, my interest in Rich Strombach's thing, which isn't even a fund yet, was just nothing more "hey, I'm always interested in talking about what I can do." Nothing more than that. They haven't come back with a proposal at all.
 
+Dan Lyons You seem fairly dishonest here. Taking an off the record email chit chat and publishing without checking back w Robert to confirm the story. Has tech journalism's practices fallen below the lessons one learns in week one of J-school?
 
What I learned from the whole thing here is that, you can make yourself popular by using someone's (who's already popular, in this case +Robert Scoble) name.

I have not heard of any +Dan Lyons before!
Wes Lum
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I heard Robert is dating Kim Kardashian! (Could that get me trouble?) FULL DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A JOKE. I'm trying to inject some humor here.
 
+Pritam Pebam well instead of apologizing he could have went the Seigler route and just enjoyed the publicity. if he makes another mistake like this, then we can say that he's a fraud, but humans are allowed to make one time mistakes.
 
+Dan Lyons What a lot of bulldonkey. The Daily Beast indeed... Tina Brown's minions strike again. Same old story.
 
Publishing an email convo like this, would put you at the end of the list of people I'd be confiding in for the future. Waaay back at the end.
 
+Bayan Rafeh make that mistake when you are in a space shuttle at outer space and you go BOOM. Who keeps the count of 'mistakes' one can commit! You either do it right or wrong. Period.
 
+Wes Lum: Actually, going by Dan Lyons' apparent logic, as long as Scoble hasn't explicitly denied dating Kim Kardashian, you could write that you heard that... :)
 
Tina Brown rocks. Dan Lyons rocks. Robert Scoble rocks. Kim kardashian is lame. End of the story
 
+Lars Fosdal To be fair, the publishing of emails didn't start here, it started in the comments of a previous post, in particular with +Robert Scoble publishing the contents of Dan's email and then Dan publishing Scoble's reply.
 
Whoa – I'm sorry, but the words "There is some bar talk about this but nothing official yet" admit that there has been a discussion, but there is no final decision. If that is +Robert Scoble's version of a denial, what does an admission sound like? He even says "I am Interested," in response to "Were you trying to raise a fund? Are you still?" I can't see +Dan Lyons reporting any other way than he did based on those responses.

UPDATE: On the flipside, this is why when I worked in journalism, we didn't lean on email as a source of communication. If it was to clarify a number or verify a small fact from a big interview it was OK. And more importantly – always clarified that an email was on the record if using in a story. This is a pretty sloppy move on both their parts.
 
So despite all Scoble's hand-waving and misdirection, it boils down to this: Lyons asked him if he was previously raising a fund and if he was still trying. If I was asked that, my answer would be "No" and "No." Most definitely not "Nothing official yet," "I am interested," or basically "Someone else would be managing it."

What's the controversy here?
 
+Stuart Schram The problem is I thought I was very clear. How much clearer is "it didn't get to that point" needs to be? I guess I need to hire you to do PR for me. To me life isn't black and white and there's always shades of gray. People talked to me about doing a fund and I said I'm interested. That's close to no, but it's not totally no. The article that Dan wrote is still totally inaccurate. I'm not raising a fund. I've never approached any VC to start a fund and I've never asked anyone to be in a fund. The fact that no VC has come forward to back up Dan's story is telling.
 
I think email is the lowest form of communication, especially for people who live in gray areas. This "controversy" is fueled by semantics. I'm not surprised no VC stepped up since this turned into a shitstorm, and who wants to put themselves in the line of fire now. Besides, it was all done under the premise of "off the record" (protect those sources!).

"People talked to me and I said I'm interested" is actually closer to yes in the minds of some people.

"nothing official *yet*" - that yet makes it ambiguous to some people (upon first read, it made me think you were going down that path).

This whole thing is really a non-story, isn't it? After all, I don't care what Robert Scoble does with his money unless he puts it directly into my pocket. His readers should be intelligent enough to know if / when he's pushing his own agenda, just like we do with Arrington / Siegler.
 
+Robert Scoble I thought you were really clear, too: "Maybe." Or, "It's something to think about."

I think the problem here is that you seem defensive about the whole thing, as if the idea of being involved with a fund would give you a black eye. If approached, I think most people would consider it, and would keep an open mind in the future if they were to approach with a plan that's more concrete and fleshed out. Maybe other people were trying to read too much into his story, but what I got out of the Lyons story was the same thing as I get from your side of things -- that it's something you would consider. Which is fine, seriously!
 
+Stuart Schram the only reason I'm being defensive about it is I am an employee at +Rackspace Hosting and this could cause me problems at work as people wonder if I'm staying or leaving. I don't have an offer in front of me so for now my career is totally focused on Rackspace. If that changes I'll let you know, but I'm like most people -- always interested in talking about the future of my career, especially with smart people like those who were at the bar in Davos with me. But that's all it is at this point, bar talk.
 
+Andrew Yarnall >>"nothing official *yet*" - that yet makes it ambiguous to some people (upon first read, it made me think you were going down that path).

If the path is 10 miles long I'm about one inch onto it with my little toe. I can't exactly say I'm not on the path, though, because, well, my little toe is on it. But that still doesn't make the article factual at all. I don't have a fund (the article claims I do). I haven't approached any VCs (the article says I did). I haven't gotten past the drinking at the bar stage.

By the way, why wouldn't any VC come forward if there was any truth to this? If there WERE truth to it the news would come out eventually (no one in Silicon Valley can keep a secret unless they work at Apple). Might as well take the PR now while everyone is paying attention.

The problem is there is no fund that I am currently involved in. Period.

Will that change? Who knows? I don't know at what will happen tomorrow. Like I said, it's possible that Bill Gates walks up to me and hands me a check for a billion dollars. Possible, but not probable. Life isn't black and white and anyone who expects it to be really bugs me.
 
+Robert Scoble I think it's great that you're clearing this up. I think it's also fine to have a point of view as long as it's disclosed. You mention Rackspace a lot, and you happen to work for them. Nobody gives Fred Wilson a hard time when he talks about startups, or the stuff they're investing in.

So if you did start up an Angel Fund, I think it would still be totally acceptable to talk about startups as long as you did it under the mantle of that fund.

I think it's when these new sites, like PandoDaily try to "report" on Valley news at the same time that they're receiving investments causes a problem.

It taints the whole industry, and there'll be a backlash.
 
If someone hands me a leaflet about their faith, that does not mean I have joined their church even if I take the leaflet. But I guess some people have a job where they need to turn a feather into a chicken...
 
+Robert Scoble I think you've made your position abundantly clear (now). I don't think we're trying to "badger a confession" out of you, but more trying to understand the gray areas you live in based on how this unfolded. Your wording in your email gave the impression that Lyons was onto something (again, I HATE email for this very reason), and people wanted a "yes" or "no" from you on it. So for the record: it is "no", but it very well could be down the road.

BTW: I appreciate both you and Dan for the engagement you have with us on G+. There are other writers posting mostly flamebait that don't engage, and it's pretty frustrating.
 
a very flimsy email to base the sort of allegations on that I read in the article about +Robert Scoble. From the article that you wrote it seemed like Scoble was out actively raising a fund. It's hard to see how based on this email someone could infer something like what was represented in the original article.

I'm still surprised that the original article stands as is and that a retraction hasn't been issued.
 
What +Robert Scoble doesn't mention is that the "group led by Rich Strombach" is the gruesome <a href="http://www.pianobarpartners.com/">Piano Bar Partners</a>, named after the smoke-filled hangout where an overweight Canadian plays karaoke for overfed plutocrats until 4am every night. Any bad press that Piano Bar Partners gets is entirely deserved.
 
+Felix Salmon you're funny. First thing you got wrong is they don't allow smoking in the Piano Bar at the Europa Hotel in Davos. The rest isn't even worth responding to.
 
+Robert Scoble (1) Piano Bar Partners was indeed named after a smoke-filled hangout. Any smoking ban postdates its inception. (2) It's the Hotel Europe, not the Europa Hotel. (3) Really? The only thing you could find there worth responding to was the adjectival phrase "smoke-filled"?
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