Last week, the worlds of technology and journalism were transfixed by a conflict that played out across across Instagram, Twitter, and the upstart audio-only social network Clubhouse. One reason it generated so much attention — you can read thorough accounts from varying perspectives at Vice, on Quora, or this venture capitalist’s Substack — is that you can approach the drama from so many angles. But despite the best efforts of everyone here, I still think the most clarifying way to understand the story of Steph Korey, Taylor Lorenz, Balaji Srinivasan, venture capital, and Clubhouse has mostly gone unspoken. And those who fail to see it, I think, could be in for a rude awakening of their own.
Let me start with a brief recounting of events — and acknowledge that I played a role in some of them. The conflict began with an investigation into the travel company Away in The Verge for which I served as an early editor; that story was written by Zoe Schiffer, my partner in bringing this newsletter to you every week; and the most recent controversy started after my friend Taylor Lorenz called attention to some comments that Korey, Away’s CEO and the subject of the original investigation, had made on Instagram. (Among those comments: “defamation lawsuits should be easier to pursue.”) Srinivasan, an investor and vocal media critic, took exception, and mocked Lorenz’s tweets. Lorenz, in turn, said Srinivasan had been harassing her with tweets for months, and Twitter’s native tribalism took over.
Journalists and their allies rallied to Lorenz’s side, myself included — no journalist deserves to be harassed or threatened. Other investors and those sympathetic to Srinivasan’s anti-journalism threads joined in the shouting. From a distance, it seemed like little more than the latest salvo in a conflict between journalists and Silicon Valley that has escalated significantly this year.