Yes, No, Maybe: Reports Of BuzzFeed’s $200 Million Round Are False

Two days ago, faux-TechCrunch technology news site VentureBeat reported something startling: they’ve heard through a source that BuzzFeed may be raising an enormous $200 million round sometime in the future. Many people believed the report, for one reason: it seems entirely plausible that BuzzFeed, now worth around $1 billion after Disney’s valuation, can raise such a huge round. After all, it seems like BuzzFeed is one of the few content-producing companies investors actually want to invest in.

But the report seems entirely fabricated. And there are two reasons why.

First of all, it’s almost inconceivable to any industry insider that BuzzFeed, who raised a $20 million round just last year, is considering yet another round at ten times the previous amount.

To date, BuzzFeed have raised four rounds of financing, with overall amount totaling $46 million. Unless BuzzFeed demonstrated stratospheric growth within one year, $200 million is an unthinkable reach.

Secondly, VentureBeat’s report is the epitome of bad journalism: the report doesn’t state anything definitively, nor does it offer any proof other than an anonymous source. The report also incorporates plausible deniability from the beginning till the end, to shield VentureBeat from having to take up any blame if the report doesn’t pan out in reality. The report, at this point, seems nothing more than a bunch of wild guesses conjectured by a bored journalist on a slow news day.

But let’s take a look at why… I’ve annotated VentureBeat’s entire report below to point out the glaring flaws:

BuzzFeed may raise a $200 million funding round — its fifth to date — a source close to the matter claims.

Red flag #1: the writer used the word “may”. Maybe BuzzFeed will, maybe BuzzFeed won’t. Strong plausible deniability in play here.

Red flag #2: only one source (and an anonymous one, at that) was able to corroborate the story.

It’s unclear how far along talks are, nor is it clear who will lead the round, although existing investors NEA, Lerer Ventures, RRE Ventures, Hearst Ventures, and SV Angel may participate. When reached for comment, a BuzzFeed spokesperson provided VentureBeat with the following statement: “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.”

The writer is basically saying, “we don’t know what’s happening.” Being “unclear” of how far along the talks are means that the financing may be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or even in the next decade.

The writer just doesn’t know. There’s no projected timeline.

This is, of course, great for VentureBeat because as long as BuzzFeed raises a $200 million round (if that) in its existence, they would be able to point to it and say, “we said so first!”

The writer also doesn’t know who will be leading the round… so at this point, the only thing that’s somewhat confirmed is BuzzFeed looking to raise a $200 million round.

According to VentureBeat’s source, the $200 million figure is seen as a median estimate; the round may fall above or below that line.

Wait a minute… so the only thing this entire report is based off… is not even confirmed?

Why write the report in the first place if the writer can’t even nail the number? Saying the round “may fall above or below” $200 million can mean anything in the world: BuzzFeed may end up raising a $50 million round, or a $400 million round.

Either way, VentureBeat’s report will still be technically “correct”.

There’s really no way to fault VentureBeat here…

Buzzfeed’s last funding round back in January 2013 saw the company raise nearly $20 million at a rumored valuation of $200 million. Following its last round, Buzzfeed reportedly planned to expand its mobile and video products. To date, Buzzfeed has raised $46.3 million.

BuzzFeed’s list posts and experiments in long-form journalism reached an “audience of more than 130 million unique visitors in November [2013],” according to an official press release. Yet, BuzzFeed took a few blows to the chest this month: The site’s Facebook traffic has reportedly tanked, and BuzzFeed’s longtime chief operating officer and president Jon Steinberg left the firm for British news and entertainment site The Daily Mail.

The rest of the report is just history of BuzzFeed’s past rounds and future goals, which anyone could’ve written in five minutes by Googling the term “BuzzFeed”.

If we’re basing predictions off this report, the odds of BuzzFeed raising a $200 million round is exactly… 0%.

Exclusive: Financial Times Screwed Up On The Price Apple Was Acquiring Beats For

When the Beats by Dr. Dre deal was finally announced by Apple, the number Apple acquired Beats for dropped by around $200 million from the Financial Times reported $3.2 billion to about $3 billion.

Within the industry, some guessed that it was because of Apple’s assessment during the due diligence phase, while others guessed that it because of the infamous video leak.

However, sources I spoke to earlier today are disputing the story, instead blaming the Financial Times’ sources on screwing the number up in the first place. Granted, this isn’t a huge deal, but should put most entertaining/conspiracy theories to rest.

Three Critical Things We Learnt About Apple’s Future From The WWDC 2014 Keynote

Significance

In many ways, Apple’s WWDC keynote yesterday was their most important one in years. They improved on just about every single feature imaginable on OS X and iOS, in addition to adding more features – some of which weren’t expecting. But true to its namesake, WWDC is a conference for developers… not the regular people.

Which clearly explains why Apple’s shares dropped by $7 yesterday. Here’s what Wall Street doesn’t get: WWDC isn’t for them. Press releases for new products are. WWDC is for developers.

More significantly than any other announcement yesterday, Apple also rewrote their entire development language (one they’ve been using for the last two decades, mind you). Apple took something all developers were comfortable with but were limited by and completed scrapped it, replacing it with Swift – a language that’s faster, and more simpler (case in point: someone has rebuilt the entire Flappy Birds game in Swift within 24 hours of the announcement of the new programming language!).

But from the keynote yesterday, I noticed three important themes emerging – and these are the themes that, I believe, Apple will continue to push forward in their future agendas.

(This post is over 2800 words. It will take the average person around four minutes to read it. If you’d like to save it to Pocket, there’s a convenient button on the bottom of this post which will allow you to do so easily.)   


1. If you’re a developer, don’t build your entire company on the premise of a single cool feature. Apple probably likes that feature too, and they will steal it. 

Yesterday, Apple unveiled a whole bunch of improvements to their existing features across OS X and iOS. Some of them includes an improved Spotlight search for the Mac, a Mail Drop service, improvements to the iMessage app, an iCloud Drive (it does everything you probably would expect it to when you hear the name…) and the ability to sign documents in Mail without leaving the app, among many others.

Going by that list above, here are the companies that are screwed (mainly because they’re banking the entire company on just one product… and now that Apple has replicated their product and integrated it perfectly into their systems – remember, often times with new features, only Apple’s stock features will have system-wide integration across the devices – they no longer have anything special to sell unless they come up with something new, fast):

1) Alfred: the Alfred app’s main reason of existence is to improve the much-criticized Spotlight search on the Mac. However, with Yosemite (the next release of OS X, which Apple debuted today), the Spotlight is very much improved. It has the ability to cull information from Wikipedia, Bing, Maps and other resources almost instantly – something which the Alfred app has been known to do for years. Almost as a dig to the Alfred app, the new Spotlight search bar in Yosemite is no longer relegated to the top right hand corner – instead, it now takes up the middle of the screen, taking after the Alfred app’s iconic look.

2) Hightail: Hightail specializes (in fact, it’s at the very core of their service, but the service also includes fringe features like document signing, file synchronization) in one thing: sending large files over email. However, with the release of Yosemite, Apple has included a helpful feature called Mail Drop.

Here’s how Mail Drop works: you want to send a massive file to your friend over email, but you can’t: most mail services only include a pesky 25MB attachment file limit. So with Mail Drop, you would still send your email normally… except this time around, you get to send a file of up to 5GB – with that massive file being re-routed through Apple’s secure servers.

And yes, even people with Windows can receive files routed through Mail Drop.

3) Snapchat/WhatsApp: With the release of Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple has refreshed the text message/iMessage app to include the ability to, in very few gestures, send a voice recording or video, all of which will be displayed inline within the conversation thread. Now this threatens both WhatsApp and Snapchat is a very significant way.

Let’s talk about WhatsApp first. Now long after the demo of the new messaging features, WhatsApp’s CEO and current-billionaire-after-Facebook-acquihire Jan Koum took to Twitter to whine about Apple stealing his features, tweeting “very flattering to see Apple “borrow” numerous WhatsApp features into iMessage in iOS 8 #innovation”. It is currently difficult to predict how the release of the new iOS 8 messaging features will affect WhatsApp’s market share.

On one hand, WhatsApp’s biggest advantage is their cross-platform user base, whereas iMessage still remains exclusive to the OS X/iOS user base. In other words, people using Blackberry, Android, iPhone, Windows Phone (is that still a thing?) can send messages to each other perfectly, without a hitch. But that’s not the case with iMessage, where only users with Apple products supporting iMessage can use the new features.

Counterbalancing that downside for Apple, however, is the fact that there’s a desktop app for iMessage – and there isn’t one for WhatsApp. WhatsApp’s team have been saying that building a desktop app is on the top of their list of priorities, but after several months, it’s still not here. And increasingly, I’ve been seeing more and more people send messages through the desktop iMessage app rather than from their iPhone, given how convenient it is to do so while working simultaneously on the desktop. So until we can get some hard data post-iOS 8 release, I think it would be difficult to predict the effects of Apple’s new iMessage on WhatsApp.

Snapchat wants to be the center of all your communications – and they’re not shy about pushing out features that suggests just that. Snapchat started out with just the ability to send ephemeral  pictures from one user’s device to another. And then they added video. Then text and voice, in their latest update. In their ideal world, the only app you need to open when communicating with others is the Snapchat app – because it can do everything!

But now… the tides have turned against Snapchat.

The only difference right now between Snapchat and the updated iOS 8 iMessage is the ephemeral aspect of Snapchat. And if that’s not what people need (especially those above 25 years-old, I’d imagine), then there’s really no point for them to keep the Snapchat apps on their phones.

As it stands right now, I’d wager that WhatsApp is at a greater risk of being obliterated by the updated iMessage app than Snapchat is – if only because Snapchat’s user base (which has got to do with their young demographic) is more loyal to them than WhatsApp’s.

4) Google Drive and Dropbox: iCloud Drive (which still surprises me that Apple’s execs would name it so, given how closely it resembles Google’s Drive in terms of features) will most probably be a bigger threat to Dropbox than Google (so what if Drive fails for Google? Most of their money is still coming from search… Dropbox on the other hand, will have nowhere to turn to if iCloud Drive succeeds and cannibalizes them). Apple’s iCloud Drive will do everything Dropbox currently do – at a much,much lower price point (we’re talking about $3.99 for 200GB of storage per month – no kidding). Now compare Apple’s $3.99 for 200GB with Dropbox’s price for the same amount of storage: $19.99.

At the Code Conference just a couple days ago, Dropbox’s CEO Drew Huston said, “We’re not cutting prices right now” and instead, is betting that customers will stick with him if he kept introducing new features. But that’s not going to work. Dropbox is not going to be known for whatever new features they’re introducing in the future. They’re known for great cloud storage and syncing.

But as it stands right now, Apple is about to cannibalize their only market with iCloud Drive.

Dropbox executives might take comfort in the fact that iCloud Drive is currently only available to OS X/iOS users… although that may very well change in the future, given Apple’s recent behavior.

(This is something interesting: Apple doesn’t seem to care about exclusivity as much as before – they’re letting Beats Music run on Android – which wouldn’t have happened with Steve Jobs – and many of the features they announced in the keynote is also surprisingly compatible with the PC.)

5) DocuSign: DocuSign is a product sold by a company with the same name that allows users to sign a document “anytime, anywhere, on any device”. However, with the newly-revamped Mail app, Apple is now offering users to sign, markup or annotate documents and PDFs straight from their trackpads. For many Apple users, there would be no need for DocuSign anymore.

The only thing most developers can take comfort in right now is the fact that they have their apps across multiple platforms… while Apple is only focused on one – so even if Apple cannibalizes their market within the OS X/iOS user base, they can still sustain with revenue from other platforms’ users (although I’d bet it’s less than what they would earn with the untouched OS X/iOS user base available to them).


2. OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 is all about refining the basics.

If you were watching the keynote at home and thinking to yourself by the time it ended that maybe Apple didn’t actually release a lot of new features, you’re most probably right.

Almost everything Apple showed off today was a great, massive improvement to the features already existing. More often than not, these aren’t features that Apple innovated in the recent years (how to make calls, text, etc.), but rather, they’ve decided to innovate on the ideas of how these features are/can be used.

There’s something truly beautiful about a company that does not only focus on constantly adding new features, but one that occasionally steps back to take a look at how they can make the fundamental features of the device genuinely better. To me, that shows a company that still cares about how their users use their devices, and not just on how many devices they can sell.

With the release of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple reinvented how messages work for all iPhone and Macs. Sure, none of the features they demoed during the keynote were innovative. But they still didn’t force the users to download those apps themselves. They’ve selected the best apps out there that they know will fundamentally make iPhone/Mac a better device and incorporated it in the most seamless manner.

Look at how the new editing features they previewed for the Photos app on iOS 8. They could’ve gone out and asked people to download VSCO, Instagram or some of the other photo-editing apps. But instead, Apple carefully selects the best features from those apps and bakes it directly into their softwares.

Say what you will about how Apple is destroying developers by doing that, but here’s my counter-argument: 1) why would you build a company based off a single product that can be ripped off that easily, and 2) at the end of the day, Apple only cares about the end-user experience. And if they have to steal features from your app to do that, they most probably will.

For Apple, it’s all about making the iPhone/Mac as great as they can for the end-user.

Apple also refined the Notification Center – and took heat for doing so, too. With the new Notification Center on OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, users can now insert custom widgets from different apps and websites to view everything they want to in a single glance. This feature has been in Android for years now. And Apple, for a long time, refused to copy it despite calls from the developer community. Now that they’ve made the feature available, many are criticizing Apple for “copying” Android.

But guess what?

Apple doesn’t care. Because they only thing they care about is making the end-user experience as great as it can be for the individual users.

(Also, let’s face it: most of the criticisms are coming from journalists who are bored by Apple after scrutinizing everything they can about the company… something the average Joe wouldn’t do.)

On the Phone.app, Apple has also rethought the way we do something so routine and mundane that we tend to forget about it until it annoys us again and again: picking up calls.

With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, users can now pick up calls to their iPhone directly from their Macs, without having to wake the iPhone up. The Mac’s microphone now acts as a speakerphone for the call.

As someone who likes to work in a distraction-free environment, this is incredibly handy. And the thing is, I never thought I would ever want that feature… until I saw it.

People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

Steve Jobs

These are just some examples of how Apple has really focused on what’s important and tried to make it better from the top of my head – and I don’t doubt that there are lots more to be discovered as OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 becomes more widely available.

If anything, this shows that Apple hasn’t lost its focus. They’re still focusing on the things that actually matter.


3. Asked and answered: How is Apple going to make OS X more like iOS? They’re not.

Ever since OS X Lion was released two summers ago, people have been constantly asking one question: when will OS X and iOS finally blend together into one, single, uniform operating system?

And the answer, as evident in yesterday’s keynote, the answer is simple and clear: never.

Apple wants us to experience how special each standalone operating system is on its own: which is why they introduced features such as Continuity.

(If you’ve noticed, this WWDC keynote, more so than any other in recent history, is spread evenly between the two operating systems.)

Each OS will be different in its very own unique way. But if suppose you own devices using the two different operating systems, then Apple wants to make sure that your experience is as seamless as possible.

Started a document on the Mac but have to leave the house all of a sudden? Finish it on the subway.

Began editing a picture on the iPad but have no battery left? Finish it on the Mac.

Features such as proximity sensor and instant hotspot also shows that Apple want the two operating systems to work together… and not have you just work with one because the experience on the other will be the exact same.

It’s all about using the best device for the task.

By now, Apple has figured out that there can never be one uniform operating system for as long as people are still using the desktop/laptop. It would be too (unnecessarily) limiting and restricting and it’s just not Apple.

Maybe Apple will transition to an mobile-only company in the future – but when that happens, all their users will be prepared for that transition because everything has been so integrated all along… everything feels like one.


Other thoughts and observations:

  • Really surprised that Apple didn’t release a single hardware today. I guess we’ll have to continue waiting for “the best product line up in 25 years,” as Eddy Cue said recently in the Code Conference.
  • Judging by the front page of Apple.com, Yosemite seems to be the biggest thing Apple is parading out.
  • The entire presentation feels lighthearted: ranging from the Tinder reference in the video to Craig Federighi’s hair crisis.
  • In the opening video, someone said something along the lines of “intersection of technology and art” when referencing an app. That doesn’t sound like something an ordinary person would say, which makes me question: are those people in the video coached? Or is whatever they’re saying from the heart?
  • The number of times Tim Cook mentioned Windows and Android was not an accident. And the effect worked.
  • Referencing the trashcan icon in OS X Yosemite, Federighi said, “You wouldn’t believe how much time we spent crafting a trashcan.” After seeing it, I do: it’s the most beautiful trashcan I’ve ever seen. Once again, attention to details.
  • The call Federighi placed to Dr. Dre onstage seemed very awkward and scripted, unlike the rest of the presentation.
  • Federighi spent a remarkably little amount of time (less than a minute, I’m guessing) talking about the new Health apps and kits. I was expecting them to talk about it way more.
  • Wow: 98% of the Fortune 500 companies are using iOS.
  • Many within Apple (maybe it’s because of the NSA/Edward Snowden leaks) seem to be answering the question “what would I want from Apple, as a user myself” themselves, which was why they proactively implemented and talked about the privacy features that comes with predictive typing – to reassure you that no one is reading what you’re typing.
  • Now that we’ve got software out of the way, it’s time for the hardware. And to say I’m excited is a huge understatement.

Along the way, while Apple was transitioning between Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, I lost a little faith in the company. But after seeing what they’re releasing yesterday, I’ll go on the record to say this: it’s going to be the biggest year for Apple just yet.

And definitely bigger than 2001 and 2007.

Exclusive: Jealousy, Not Dr. Dre, Is The Main Reason Why Apple Is Buying Beats

Earlier yesterday, TechCrunch released a report in which reporter John Biggs wrote, citing “a well-placed source”, that Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics (earlier reported in an exclusive by the Financial Times, who also priced the deal at a steep $3.2 billion) is 70% likely to go through – and the main reason the deal is happening is because Apple wants both Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s influence within the music industry and that they’ve got, according to the TechCrunch source, “fashion and culture completely locked up.”

However, sources I spoke to within Apple disputes that story.

These two independent sources (each with a 6 year+ experience working in the company) tell me that the main reason why Apple is acquiring Beats Electronics is not because they need or want Dre and Iovine’s experiences (more on that later), but rather, because they’re jealous of how far Beats Electronics has come in the music industry.

Apple is, in short, buying Beats Electronics to kill off the closest competition while still slightly benefitting themselves.

Beats by Dre, ever since its inception, has seen nothing but strong and steady growth. In a report by Fast Company, Beats Electronics’ revenue in 2011 was only $350 million. By 2013, just a mere two years later, their revenues have skyrocketed four times, up to $1.4 billion.

And while Beats Electronics is growing rapidly, Apple’s music business has, at best, remained stagnant – or at worst, declined.

Over the last few years, Apple’s music business has declined by double-digits in terms of music sales, while Beats Electronics continued their grab for more market share with the purchase of music steaming service MOG and their extensive partnerships with multiple corporations across the board.

Apple was worried.

And they’ve also got lots of cash on hand that they don’t really see a need for.

So why not just buy the competition up?

According to the sources, once the acquisition is completed (“It will be weird now if Apple doesn’t buy Beats,” said a source), the Beats Electronics brand (which also includes the Beats by Dr. Dre brand) is gone. It will be completely dissolved and any technology previously developed by Beats Electronics will either be infused with a current project Apple is working on (unlikely) or just be completely scrapped (more likely).

The sources made it clear that with the purchase of Beats Electronics, there’s absolutely no chance Apple will let the brand live on for another day.

They were competition, and now they’re going to get killed.

For those who are wildly guessing if Apple will implement Beats Audio in the iPhone 6, the answer then, is a clear no.

But what Beats Electronics have done isn’t even the most impressive in the industry. Why didn’t Apple just buy Spotify, Rdio, or something along those lines? Don’t they have more market share than Beats Music?

Yes they do – but here’s where Dre and Iovine comes in. According to the source, Apple thought that the acquihiring of both Iovine and Dre was just a bonus to killing off the competition – an icing on the cake, if you will.

Both Dre and Iovine will fit right into the Apple culture: they’re both experienced marketers. Beats by Dr. Dre headphones aren’t the best in its class. Specs-wise, neither are the iPhones. But it still sells like hotcakes frankly because of the image these products carry with them.

In that sense, the two music-moguls will have no problem fitting in and will, perhaps, aid Apple in negotiating deals with prominent musicians. But don’t expect the both of them to have the massive roles within Apple like many in the media is painting them to be.

Their roles will be, according to the sources, “strictly advisory.”

The sources also cited the fact that the deal almost went down the drain a couple times, which in turn soured the relations between Dre/Iovine and the Apple executive team (an example of this was when the Dre video was leaked… according to the sources who heard the story through the grapevines, Cook was furious enough to call Dre, demanding an explanation).

Confirming Billboard’s earlier report, the deal is set to be finalized next week.

This Is The One Question The New York Times’ New Boss Is Trying To Avoid

Dean Baquet is now the New York Times’ executive editor, after his predecessor Jill Abramson was pushed out of the company earlier this week.

There’s a whole bunch of theories flying around as to why Abramson – a talented editor and manager, no less – was fired, ranging anything from unequal pay to her aggressively “brusque” and “pushy” personality. If you missed out on the story, here are a couple great links to get you covered.

But let’s talk about Dean Baquet for a moment.

He’s the first ever African American executive editor at the New York Times.

He’s well-liked in the newsroom, where people see him as the warmer and more approachable alternative to Abramson’s cold and sometimes uninterested persona.

He’s also passionate about his job: he once smashed his hand against a wall in Abramson’s office and stormed out of the newsroom when he didn’t get what he wanted.

Because of all these characteristics, people whom I’ve talked to within the New York Times thinks he’s going to be a great editor and manager – as great, if not better than Abramson.

But there’s a dark side to Baquet’s history… one that he probably wants all of us to forget now that he holds the highest editorial position (and therefore wields the most power) in the New York Times.

Before coming to the New York Times, he was a managing editor at the Los Angeles Times… where he used his position and power to kill a story which would’ve shed light on the NSA’s power abuses.

In 2007, Mark Klein, then an AT&T technician, approached a Los Angeles Times reporter named Joe Menn with a jaw-dropping story: NSA is/was secretly collaborating with AT&T on a dragnet spy program that collected the calls of millions of unsuspecting American citizens. Menn and Klein both worked on the story for two months and just as the story was about to get published, Baquet stepped in with one word: no.

Something else, however, happened in between the time Menn sent the story in for review and Baquet stepping in to freeze the publication of the story.

It is reported that the decision to not pursue the story was made only after Baquet and a few Los Angeles Times editor met with NSA officials to discuss the story, at which point one can reasonably assume that the NSA freaked out and told Baquet to kill the story… and he did just that.

Back at the Los Angeles Times, Baquet told his editorial team that the story was spiked on grounds of “technicalities” and that the Los Angeles Times, even with its very smart reporters, “could not figure out what was going on.”

Something smells fishy here: if the story was already at a state ready for publication, it means that Menn must’ve already understood the documents… and was able to translate the technicalities into something that’s understandable for the average Joe. That basic fact alone blows a hole right through Baquet’s excuse that the paper couldn’t understand the secret documents handed over by Klein.

In other words, what Baquet did over at the Los Angeles Times was nothing short of kowtowing to the needs of the NSA, an organization that papers Baquet worked for is supposed to hold accountable and exercise a healthy amount of oversight over.

So here’s the question that Baquet will hopefully answer in the close future, either verbally or through his actions: is the Baquet who managed the Los Angeles Times and spiked a story critical to the privacy of the citizens because he didn’t want to offend the higher-ups in the NSA the same Baquet who is going to be managing the New York Times?

Or is he going to dare to go against their wishes in order to fulfill what the New York Times is historically known for: to publish the truth, and nothing but the truth, for the benefit of its readers?

This Is The Most Logical Reason Why Upworthy’s Traffic Is Tanking

Media analyst Peter Kafka at Re/code wrote a great report on Upworthy’s declining traffic today, along with some comments from Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser. It was reported that last month, Upworthy had their lowest traffic yet at just 10.7 million visitors – the lowest since August last year.

Pariser had an interesting explanation as to why his site’s traffic – which is known to amass insane amount of clicks for its provocative headlines – is down: they’re focusing less on the content itself, and more on what goes behind the scenes. Since they’re so focused on beefing up their editorial team to prepare for the future, they’ve neglected the thing they do best: curating content.

Perhaps that’s the optimistic explanation to the situation.

But I’ve got a different theory.

People aren’t clicking Upworthy links because they’re just sick of it. 

People are sick at the way Upworthy hypes everything up as though it’s the most important thing ever and that you can’t live another day of your life if you don’t click on the link they just shared.

When Upworthy first started doing the “curiosity-gap” headlines, it was innovative. It was a new format that people weren’t used to.

What people were used to back then was a title that described what the piece was going to be about (for example: Obama’s Meeting With Congress Shows That The Two Parties Are Still Willing To Cooperate). But here’s Upworthy’s take on the headline: Obama Met With A Couple People In Congress Who Hated Him. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next…

It was new. And because it evoked people’s curiosity and emotion, they clicked on it.

Sure enough, it worked – for the first few months.

Then traffic began tapering off.

The more people shared Upworthy’s content on Facebook with the hyped-up headline, the more people were exposed to it and eventually, if you were like me, you would feel it’s nauseating to even read Upworthy’s headline. Essentially, Upworthy’s initial boom to popularity was what hindered them in the long run.

Also, it gets annoying after a while. Here’s a bet I’d be willing to take: if suppose a group of people had the choice to visit Upworthy or BuzzFeed’s homepage, most of them would choose BuzzFeed’s. Why? The answer is simple: it’s just less annoying.

People eventually got desensitized to Upworthy’s only ammo in their arsenal: the alluring headlines.

While BuzzFeed is innovating with highly-sharable quizzes, new forms of content (including long lists of just a person’s train of thoughts with pictures/GIFs punctuated in between them every so often) and original video, Upworthy hasn’t innovated (in the minds of the average Internet user). Most of Upworthy’s content involves repackaged pictures, infographics or videos. That’s all.

That’s what they’ve been doing since they opened their doors in 2012 and that’s what they’re still doing right now.

But as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” right?

Well, the thing is, it’s starting to break… and I’m not sure if Upworthy can innovate beyond their original novelty of highly clickable headlines.

Conflicting Lies: Here Are The Problems With The Blog Post A CEO Who Hit A Woman 117 Times Just Published

Just as I was finishing up my previous piece, I saw on Twitter that RadiumOne CEO Gurbaskh Chahal just posted something on his personal blog to defend himself from the accusations. It is, however, when examined at a deeper level, filled with inaccuracies and in many cases, downright lies. I’ve annotated Chahal’s entire post to point out the inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

Can You Handle the Truth?

Sure… if it’s you know, actually the truth.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Yeah. Except your forgot to add something here: it’s your version of “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” The version of someone who is abusive towards woman without any regard for their physical wellbeing.

Right now there are many people calling for my head. I am the recipient of death threats and hateful language aimed not just at what I was accused of, but attacking me for my ethnicity, my social class, and even my gender. Many would gladly lynch me based because of my origin — and not the facts of my case.

I don’t know if you’re drunk when you wrote this or not… but no one is actually calling for your head because you’re Indian (well maybe a few), but I can assure you that those people are the exceptions rather than the rule. People are calling for your head because of one, and only one straightforward reason: you hit a girl 117 times in the span of half hour. Then you most probably bought her silence afterwards to save your own ass from being thrown in prison. To think that the reason why you’re being hated upon is because you’re Indian is delusional, and quite frankly, an excuse for you to feel better about what you did.

I know that I cannot change the minds of those who choose to hate me without cause — and base their hate only on the misrepresentations they have read, but I hope that others will be open minded and give me the opportunity to tell my story and paint a broader and very different picture.

Most logical people aren’t hating you “without cause”. Which part of the “you hit a girl 117 times” do you not (or refuse) to understand as the reason why people are having this reaction over what you did?

Before I begin, I want to make it abundantly clear that I abhor violence of any kind, most especially against women. I created a foundation to fight hate crimes. I consider intimate partner violence and domestic violence in that same category.

This says nothing about your character – the foundation you created (although should be applauded), may have been created for a number of reasons you and I both know may be true, especially in the Silicon Valley culture: PR value, as an excuse whenever people bring up the fact that you’re rich, or to ease your cognitive dissonance after hitting a girl 117 times. Although you did take the first step, after hearing what happened, I’m not sure why you created the foundation.

I was charged with 45 felony counts of domestic violence. All of those charges were dropped, and ultimately the case settled when the DA’s office recognized they had no case and offered me a misdemeanor plea. I accepted that plea, because after a lot of soul searching I believed I was acting in the best interest of my company, my employees, my customers, my family, my friends and my investors.

No. You accepted the plea because your company (which you’ve been fired from now) is about to IPO. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

I fully understand the outrage of those who believe I got off “lightly” as asserted by numerous postings on social media sites. But the $500 fine I agreed to pay, the equivalent of a speeding ticket, is simply what those misdemeanors require, and in no way reflects the toll that this ordeal has exacted on me. There can be no dollar value placed on the pain and suffering I have caused my family and friends, my employees and customers my investors, and everyone else who has looked up to me in the past. The humiliation and shame I feel is immeasurable. The dollar cost to my business and my reputation is incalculable.

Well, here’s a bucket of sympathy for you – we’re all sorry that you have to endure the painful consequences because you did what you did.

I could have spent another year fighting the charges against me, which I truly wanted to do for my family’s sake. I would have prevailed in this fight because the allegations by police against me were overblown and grossly exaggerated. They made good press, but quite literally, they did not hold up in court.

Yeah you might’ve wanted to do that for your “family’s sake”, but your board of directors, PR people or lawyers wouldn’t have allowed you to. “They did not hold up in court.” – this is true. But not because you didn’t hit a girl 117 times. It’s because of the technicalities of the law. And you know that.

I want you to know that this is not an excuse. I know that intimate partner violence is never excusable under any circumstances. I recognize that my temper got the better of me, and I will regret that for the rest of my life. But there is a difference between temper and domestic violence, and the truth of what actually happened is no where close to what the police claimed nor anywhere near what the online chatter and pundits are now making it out to be. I have two sisters, a niece and a mother. I love them all to death, and would never want any harm to ever come their way.

“I recognize that my temper got the better of me, and I will regret that for the rest of my life.” – So you’re admitting that you hit a woman, and you’re going to use your anger to justify it. Okay.

” difference between temper and domestic violence” – No, there isn’t. Violence is still violence. Maybe if you hit her once, it might have fallen into your so-called “temper violence” category. But you hit her 117 times. By then, you must’ve been fully aware of what you’re doing.

“I have two sisters, a niece and a mother. I love them all to death, and would never want any harm to ever come their way.” – Yeah, yeah… I wonder who you’re trying to appeal with all this pathos. There are psychopathic murderers who loved their sisters, nieces and mothers too, by the way.

The situation that resulted in my legal case began when I discovered that my girlfriend was having unprotected sex for money with other people. (She testified to this in her interviews with the cops.) I make no excuse for losing my temper. When I discovered this fact and confronted my girlfriend, we had a normal argument. She called 9-11 after I told her I was going to contact her father regarding her activities. And yes, I lost my temper. I understand, accept full responsibility and sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for that. But I didn’t hit her 117 times, injure her, or cause any trauma as the UCSF medical reports clearly document. This was all overblown drama because it generates huge volumes of page views for the media given what I have accomplished in the valley.

“I discovered that my girlfriend was having unprotected sex for money with other people.” – So you’re basically saying that it’s okay to hit a whore (if that). Well, it’s not. And if you actually cared about her, you would’ve used words like “unfaithful” instead of describing her sex life like that. Or you know, just don’t mention it at all.

“But I didn’t hit her 117 times” – 1) But you also didn’t mention how many times you hit her – it could be 114, 115, or 116. All you said was “not 117“. So you could’ve hit her for however many times – as long as the number isn’t 117. Who knows, there’s a chance you might’ve hit her more  than 117 times. 2) You still hit her.

“given what I have accomplished in the valley” – Totally necessary.

The tape in question that was thrown was also bullshit. If anything, it actually made the SFPD look bad because they violently assaulted me as I opened my door despite my being fully cooperative.

If the tape made the SFPD look bad, then why are you so adamant (spending lots of money and effort) on keeping it out of the public’s eyes? Something quite obviously doesn’t add up here.

The girl in question here, was herself so appalled by the false allegations made by the police, that she agreed to be photographed to demonstrate that there were no bruises or injuries. She could have left my apartment at any time during the argument. She felt safe and chose to stay. Those pictures she agreed to take would have been entered into evidence had my case proceeded, and they would have proven that the police claims were egregiously misleading.

Even if there were no bruises or injuries (which I doubt), you still hit her. And most probably not just once or twice, but enough for the prosecution to think that they have an air-tight conviction against you, before the judge ruled the recording to be inadmissible.

Celebrities in sports, entertainment and business, and high net worth individuals in general are all potential targets. It was only a matter of time when I would fall prey.

This is a really weird line… is there a point you’re trying to make?

I have to accept that many will still want to hate me no matter what I say to bring clarity to my legal case which is now over. But the fact of the matter is that they are jumping to conclusions based on falsified allegations. My case could not have settled in the way that it did if the allegations were true. Trust me, the DA’s were like a pack of rabid dogs coming after me. If they had a case, they would have stuck with it.

You don’t seem to understand that the DA’s case fell apart because the recording was inadmissible as an evidence… not because you didn’t do what you did.

I only hope for two things: first that people who I work so hard to inspire are not discouraged by the false allegations and blogosphere spins, and, secondly, I hope others who are not in my shoes — and who have jumped on the bandwagon of criticism against me after the conclusion of my legal proceedings — will be open minded and give me the opportunity to tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Stretching the definition of the word “truth” there.

I apologize to my family, my friends, employees, my customers and my investors all who have suffered from this bad publicity related to my personal matter. I have learned a lot from this experience, and I will continue to grow. As CEO of RadiumOne, I vow to make it a hugely successful company, a great place to work, and a wonderful partner in the community.

Thankfully, you’re no longer the CEO of RadiumOne. But more importantly, it’s great knowing that the female employees at RadiumOne can now come to work with a peace of mind, without the threat of working under someone might abuse them.

I’ve always wanted the best for others. I have been a tireless fighter against hate crimes through my Foundation, and a huge supporter of education through my scholarship funds. What I am proudest of in my success thus far in life is that I have created jobs and opportunities for people, while building commerce and strengthening our community. Actions speak louder than words, and it is these actions, not the false allegations and spins that you might have read through these various blogs shine light on my real character, on the person I truly am and always want to be.

Nothing in this paragraph vindicates the fact that you hit a girl that many times.

What is the American Dream? That you can come from nothing and make something of yourself not once, not twice but three times, only to have all of it come crashing down from misinformation, that is spun wildly out of control into the world of make believe and then goes viral into the blogosphere. We need to hold on to the American Dream, and reject those who would rather make it a nightmare.

I’m sorry that we, the media, is ruining your American Dream – but I also don’t remember recalling the fact that the American Dream should protect those who belong in jail. “Misinformation”, you say? Well, where there’s smoke, isn’t there – however tiny or large – fire?

Our Founding Fathers believed in the dream, why not the bloggers.

I still can’t believe an actual human being wrote this.

Little did you know, this blog post also served as your resignation letter. Justly so.