One of the undercovered aspects of the Theranos fraud is that Elizabeth Holmes’s partner Sunny Balwani got rich by selling a company that had three test clients and almost no revenue just as the dot com bubble was about to burst. Having essentially won the lottery, he convinced himself that he was a genius, and the next company he co-ran was a total fraud.
In a very related matter, yesterday was a huge sports day — a thrilling upset win in Game 7 of the World Series, the first time in North American pro sports that the road team had won all 7 games in a series (indeed, no road team had ever won 6 before), one of the NBA’s biggest stars breaking his hand, another game ending 159-158 in regulation, and a former MLB MVP arrested for brutally assaulting his daughter. None of this was covered on one of the most prominent sports sites on the internet because the extremely stupid venture capital people who bought drove all of their staff away (most of the staff that didn’t resign yesterday announced their resignations today.)
This is completely untrue. Honestly, if the editors went just by the data, Deadspin would have been a lifestyle and politics site with a sports subsite mostly dedicated to football. https://t.co/bqTTOlBzKy— Tim Marchman (@timmarchman) October 31, 2019
And it’s not just that their empirical claims about non-sports posts being unpopular are demonstrably and howlingly false. These people are so dumb and ignorant about the website they’re running that even their cherry-picked examples prove the opposite of the point they’re trying to make. The classic rock post has generated more than 123,000 page views from a de minimis time investment. Even better, the second example is…their most popular former writer’s weekly NFL column. It’s just own goals all the way down. But believing in the fiction of meritocracy is a hell of a drug, and it can lead you to doing stuff like destroying a popular and popular website because you’ve convinced yourself for self-serving reasons that something can’t work in theory so you don’t care that it works in practice.
It would be funny except that not only have a lot of good writers lost their jobs, stuff like this is going to keep happening:
It is tempting to see the demise of Deadspin as another depressing instance of how things work: a private equity firm full of almost comically idiotic media bros blunders into a successful media property and destroys it because the only thing it knows how to do is juice ad impressions. But the collapse of Deadspin is so spectacularly stupid, so clearly self-inflicted, that it has an epochal quality. If there were any justice in the world, the site’s absurd decline, which could not better contrast the integrity and talent of Deadspin’s staffers on one side and the craven shit-eating of their corporate masters on the other, would serve as a wake-up call to the powers that be. Since there isn’t, it’s almost certainly a harbinger for much worse to come.