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January 9 2012 Posted by: Mark Fidelman in: Enterprise 2.0, Miscellany

How Yammer Should Have Responded to the TechCrunch Ad Hominem

imageI can’t help but laugh at the TechCrunch gang’s corporate ad hominem last week. It seemed more of a personal attack than any real attempt to provide a product review. 

TechCrunch didn’t merely reproach their building mate, they reprimanded them. Stranger, most of the article really didn’t say anything at all, because they were not talking to us. They seem to be too entranced by TechCrunch.

I have to agree with Alexia Tsotsis’s dating analogy when referring to their relationship with Yammer, “Everyone knows someone who dates a girl that they’re not particularly into but for some reason they haven’t made the move to cut ties.”

I imagine Yammer feels the same way. I imagine how they want to respond in public but as the more mature party, they’ve taken the high road.  I imagine if they were to have responded, the retort would have gone something like this:

SUBJECT: “Let’s Just Be Friends”

How do you manage a relationship with a gang of Sybils?

You’re practicing the kind of journalism that psychologists refer to as Dissociative identity disorder. You love us, you hate us, make up your many minds.

Your behavior is like the boyfriend that is obsessed with us on one day, and then is slashing our tires the next.  The guy that sends us flowers in the morning but prank calls us at night.  The girl who claims she “needs her space”, but later stalks us like prey.  

Your Jekyll and Hyde routine seems to be triggered by random, dissociative acts or simply for the computer-game fun of it. It’s hard to tell which.

As you may know, Mark Twain once said: “character may be learned from the adjectives which she uses in conversation”, which is telling given the number of times the word ‘sucks’ is used in your article. He should have added that, in order to properly judge ones work, you must have undertaken the responsibility yourself.

So let’s add up and compare the tangible contributions to society and business.  We have millions of users around the world collaborating, sharing and creating new products using our software. 80 percent of the Fortune 500 are using Yammer to break down communication barriers to surface and improve on ideas. We’re facilitating real connections between a company’s suppliers and partners from Brazil to Russia to India to China in order to strengthen relationships across cultures and geographic boundaries.

And what are you creating? How are you benefiting society? Are you working for or against it?

But, to be disappointed, you must first have an expectation of something good and this is your journalism we’re talking about. You seem to be acting like the snob who snubs for the sake of snubbing.  Or that we missed our protection shakedown payment and your making us your public display.

We’re left to wonder if Fred Wilson’s warning is coming true, that after Michael Arrington and a few others left, the media powerhouse would lose its swag.  After pondering the issue, Wilson closes his thoughts with, “But I’m not terribly worried about it. The TechCrunch audience, including me, will find new sources of news, information, and entertainment elsewhere if that’s what needs to happen.”

But hey, let’s let bygones be bygones, alter egos be united, hurt feelings be forgiven – in fact, let’s just be friends.

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