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There’s been some chatter – stimulated by Jeff Jarvis – about the generic advice given on many VC blogs (e.g. “Dear World, Here’s My Top 10 Tips For A Better Startup.”) While I hopefully don’t end up in the lame category, I expect that I produce my share of generic, generally uninspiring content.
Yesterday, I received a “Client Alert” from one of the name brand Silicon Valley law firms. I get these all the time from most law firms – they are “marketing activities” from them to show VCs how smart they are and – presumably – to help VCs stay on top of important issues. Ironically, while I expect most of these firms have double checked to make sure they comply with CAN-SPAM, I know that many of them don’t use good UCE hygiene (specifically, I never opted in – they simply put me on the email list since they have my email address in their system somewhere.)
When reading the advisory, titled “Website Tips and Suggestions”, two thoughts came to mind. Thought one was “man, these dudes have way too much time on their hands” and thought two was “aha – this is why many VC blogs (and websites) are so lame.” Here’s the specific section that talks about blogs.
Beware of Blogs
From a legal perspective, there may be little or no difference between a Firm’s “official” website and the business-related blogs maintained by one or more of the Firm’s members. So long as a blog’s content relates to the Firm’s activities, any statements or activities made or conducted through the blog may be attributed to the Firm. As a general matter, the best course is to treat blogs as part of the official website—if material is unsuitable for the official website, it most likely will be unsuitable for a blog as well.
One of the greatest challenges associated with blogs is the informal style adopted by many blog writers. It is important to note that informal style is just that—a style. Whether a blog’s style is formal, informal, or somewhere in-between, its content should adhere to the same standards of care and propriety as any other document published by the Firm.
Similar considerations apply to “podcasts” and other evolving forms of communication.
The way I read this, it says “Don’t Blog – Too Dangerous.” Give me a break. How about a simpler approach.
- Put a disclaimer on your blog that says “These are my opinions – I am responsible for them. They are not affiliated with or representative of firm X”
- Keep confidential information confidential.
- Use good judgment (e.g. your words reflect on you and become part of the permanent record of the world as indexed by Google, et.al.)
Oops – I just gave my fellow VCs advice on something – not good – guys – this is not legal advice – just my opinion – please check with your law firm.