I mentioned the other day that I thought we’d be hearing more about Nick Douglas’s departure from Valleywag, and now we have.
I got an email from 10 Zen Monkeys today pointing me to a very interesting post. It seems that the New York Times has published an internal email from Gawker Media’s Lockhart Steele (who, with a name like that, has a second career waiting for him in the WWF), explaining why Nick was sacked.
What’s especially interesting about the 10 Zen Monkeys post is that it was apparently an interview with that site that led to the sacking. In the interview, Nick talks, obviously (at least to me) tongue in cheek, about trying to get sued. Here is the question and answer that led to the current state of affairs:
RU: So what levels of outrage or prickliness have you run into?
ND: It’s usually just really uncomfortable conversations at parties. I’m learning that it’s a great art — defusing conversations. I never had that skill before. I was too passive-aggressive to actually have someone confront me at a party. But now I’m able to at least make someone like me for a half hour. And that’s all I really need.
We haven’t gotten a serious legal threat so far. Well, a couple of minor ones, but we’re still waiting for a good solid cease-and-desist and a good lawsuit. We’re really trying to get News Corp to sue us. They tried to stop the publication of some article [ed: originally intended for publication by someone else] calling MySpace a spam factory. And the author was revealing some of the background behind the company – that it wasn’t really started by these two guys in their basement. And, since News Corp went to such lengths to stop the original publisher from publishing the article, we were hoping that if I actually published it on Valleywag, we could finally get sued. (Sighs) It didn’t happen yet. I’m really disappointed about that.
The Steele email indicates that Gawker had “repeatedly spoke to and warned” Nick about whatever it was he was doing wrong, and there may be more to it than what is mentioned in the email. As a commenter to the 10 Zen Monkeys post points out, “while this internal email might be closer to the truth, even this could be heavily sanitized, so only the firer and perhaps the firee know for sure.”
Regardless, the precipitating event seems a little suspect. Combined with the stated desire to make Valleywag less about whatever it used to be about and more about traditional tech and money topics, it still looks to me like there is more going on than meets the eye.
The latest developments are certainly interesting, but I don’t think we’ve heard the final chapter in this story.