True Confessions of a New Media Whore
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First published by
Weidenfeld & Nicolson london
‘I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-ﬁve hours’ Hunter S. Thompson
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Prologue ‘Hello World’ ‘The interactive hit of the summer’ ‘You can lead a leopard to dog milk . . .’ ‘Jealousy is the mother of invention’‘Children, animals and the love of your life, oh my . . .’ ‘What’s a nice girl like you doing at a sausage fest like this?’ ‘There must be an angel . . .’ ‘All the best meetings are taken’ ‘This could be heaven or this could be hell’ ‘Nice colour . . .’ ‘. . . That’s Bone’ ‘MySpace or yours?’ ‘Relationship status: complicated’ ‘Banged up’ ‘Running on fumes’ ‘Denial’ ‘Two girls, one fuck-up’ ‘Takingstock’ ‘The End Game’ Epilogue Acknowledgements
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September 2006, and deep in the bowels of the Adam Street private members’ club in London a very special group of people is crammed into a private room, supping imported Spanish beer from a free bar. The value – on paper at least – of the companies owned bythose squeezed into this tiny, boiling space would dwarf the debt of a small African nation. Among those present are some of the key players in Europe’s Internet industry. The content creators, the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the investors; these are the new media moguls. And tonight they’re in their element. I’m hiding at the back of the room getting slowly drunk with the event’s organiser, anentrepreneur who helped raise a ridiculous sum of money for a business networking site that had projected revenues of precisely zero. His mantra, he tells me, is ‘revenue is the enemy’. It’s not clear what that means, but I have to admit it sounds great. A microphone is being passed around and we’re watching and listening as a succession of young – mostly under forty – men – they’re mostly men –rattle off their CVs and their future plans. ‘He,’ whispers my drinking buddy, pointing the neck of his beer bottle at a short, well-groomed man wearing a yellow checked jacket and bright red trousers, ‘was in the FT yesterday. Apparently BT are going to buy the company he co-founded for half a billion dollars.’ ‘Fuck,’ I half-whisper back. One habit you soon pick up, hanging out with dot comentrepreneurs, is swearing. ‘That’s a terrible ﬁt. It’s like Friends Reunited* all over again. What the hell are BT going to do with them?’
* Bought by ITV for almost £150 million.
B R I N G I N G N O T H I N G T O T H E PA R T Y
‘Nothing.’ ‘Nothing?’ ‘No, the story’s bullshit. Totally made up. And they fucking printed it.’ ‘Fuck.’ ‘Of course they printed it. Theycalled the investors to check it out, but they refused to comment. So they ran it as a “rumour”. And why not? It wouldn’t exactly be the most outrageous deal of the year, would it?’ He has a point. ‘Do I even want to ask who “leaked” it?’ I ask. My friend smirks and looks down at his beer bottle. He’s a notorious gossip monger, and the rumour has his ﬁngerprints all over it – not least because the manin the red trousers is one of his best friends. Before I can respond – not that I know how to – an enormous cheer goes up. The previous introduction had come from Sean Seton-Rogers of venture capital ﬁrm Benchmark; the one before that from Angus Bankes, the technical genius behind Moreover.com, the news aggregation service that was recently sold to Verisign for $30 million (‘thirty million...