Understandably, it raises a lot of eyebrows when people go from reporting on startups to working at them—or worse, funding them.
"When Journalists Believe They Are VCs, Beware," startup survivor Ben Rooney writes in the Wall Street Journal, of former Mashable editor Ben Parr becoming a venture capitalist at the whimsically named #DominateFund, along with two young startup founders.
VentureBeat reporter Jolie O'Dell, a former colleague of Parr's, seemed measured in her commentary: "Time alone will tell whether our reservations are unfounded or whether Ben Parr and two kids make up an unexpectedly awesome startup investment dream team."
But she concealed a highly arched eyebrow into the Web address of her article on the matter: "ORLY," which is textspeak for "oh, really?"
The case against is simple: Journalists don't know anything about business, and when they get drawn into the world of startups and venture capital, it's because they've lost the needed distance and skepticism.
It's a kind of dismal worldview that treats journalism as a life sentence and business as some kind of spooky cult.
Now, we have no personal interest in becoming venture capitalists, and it certainly seems like there are plenty of early-stage investors backing consumer-oriented startups.
But there's one thing we want to point out: There is a great historical example of a journalist becoming a venture capitalist.
His name is Michael Moritz. He was a Silicon Valley correspondent for Time magazine—covering Apple in its early days, among other stories—before he went on to become a partner at Sequoia Capital, where he funded a few companies you may have heard of: Yahoo. Google. LinkedIn. Zappos.
Not a bad career move for Moritz. Not a bad outcome for Sequoia's investors.
Consider Moritz before you write a blanket rule banning journalists from the field.
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