An Interview with Paul Carr about Living in Hotels and Five Words Every Startup Should Know

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By: Hilzfuld

The technology reporting scene on the Web is always full of excitement and drama. Paul Carr makes sure of it. The man is a constant source of entertainment both in his blog posts and on Twitter. The latest TechCrunch story brought out the best in Paul and as soon as Arrington was not permitted to choose his successor as the Editor of TechCrunch, Paul left, just like he promised he would.

As you will see below, Paul did not disappoint with his answers and despite the sarcastic tone of some of his responses, there are lots of gems to learn from. The following are eleven questions I asked Paul and his answers:

1: Who is Paul Carr? What is your background both personal and professional? How did you end up where you are today?

Oh man. Ok. Born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1979. Degree in law, which I’ve wasted. Founded an email magazine called The Friday Thing at university, which lead to me writing about media-tech for the Guardian. Two failed startups — one in publishing, one a local social network thing before that was a thing. Returned to the Guardian, then TechCrunch. Left TechCrunch, now doing a startup. Written a dozen books along the way. Former drinker. Former mess. Hotel dweller. NSFW.

2: OK let’s just get this out of the way. Was AOL 100% in the wrong for the Arrington story? Should he have been allowed to invest in startups and write about them with disclosure? How would you have dealt with this issue differently?

I’ve written a ton about this, but in brief: AOL were fine with Mike starting CrunchFund. In fact, they put in half the money. I was fine with the fund, but not with the name as I worried that people would (wrongly) assume that other TC writers were involved, and thus conflicted. My preferred solution was for Mike to step down as editor, appoint his own successor and then carry on writing as a guest poster while being a GP at CrunchFund (exactly what MG Siegler is doing now, with AOL’s blessing).

Sadly though, the story became a STORY and Arianna Huffington needed to show she was in charge at AOL (which she is) and therefore at TC (which she wasn’t but is now). All but one of the team at TC stood firm on the position that Mike should be allowed to choose his own successor. Sadly that one person with no spine was the guy who Arianna approached to be her puppet leader. The end. What would I have done differently if I were AOL? No idea. I like Barry Diller’s take on it: “AOL should have said to Arianna — go back to your room”. It was none of her business. And I say that as someone who is, generally speaking, a big AH fan.

3: So a new startup, huh? Obviously, you cannot tell me all about it, but what can you tell me? 

The company name is Not Safe For Work Corporation. It’s going to be based in downtown Vegas. We’re going to have a lot of fun and probably not sell to AOL.

4: So talk to me about this hotel story. How did it start and why do you live in hotels? Give me the background.

My parents are hoteliers so I’ve always spent huge amounts of time in and around hotels. Then four years ago I decided I was tired of London (and of life) and of paying a small fortune every month to survive on cold pizza in a shitty apartment there. Then I realised that for the same as I was paying for my place in London (including local (‘council’) tax, heat, light, power, etc) I could check in to a decent hotel in Manhattan. Four years later, I’m still figuring out how to get better and better deals, still for roughly what I would be paying in London.


5: Now to get a little more tech. What do you think about Apple’s recent announcement of the iPhone 4S in light of the events that followed?

I’m not sure I can talk about the latter in light of the former. I’m pretty sure the iPhone 4S didn’t kill Steve Jobs. Honestly, I don’t care about a new iPhone — i’m sure it’s very pretty and nice and will sell well. Steve Jobs, on the other hand — well, wow. Revolutionised tech, media, entertainment, retail and countless other industries. Inspired a generation of entrepreneurs.

Did it all w/emithout feeling the need to be the nicest human being alive, and still came out of it a saint. Kudos. Again, I don’t think the latest iPhone will be any more his legacy than a particular breed of duck would be God’s.

 6: What phone do you use and why? 

Blackberry. It makes people think I have a job.

7: What are five tech trends you think we can expect to see dominate in the coming years?

Fuck only knows. The possibility I’m most excited about is the Angry Birds franchise expanding into the other stages of grief. Angry Birds was fantastic but I can’t wait for Birds in Denial, Bargaining Birds, Depressed Birds, Accepting birds… Actually, that last one will probably be shit. Just birds that you click on and they shrug.


8: Now that you left TechCrunch and are starting your own thing, where can people expect to read your writing? Will you continue to blog? 

Yeah – http://blog.bringingsomething.com a. Also supposed to be writing for the guardian again, if they send me a contract. Oh, and I’ve written a book about addition for Byliner.com. That’ll be out soon. I think.

9: What are five tips you would give someone getting started in the tech startup world?

1: Never

2: Ever

3: Sell

4: To

5: AOL

10: What do you think about the whole social media buzz and the sites that capitalize on it? Is it here to stay or is it a passing phase?

Who cares what *I* think? I’m just a professional writer, and a recognised expert on the subject. What do thousands of other people think? Let’s ask them on Twitter.

11: So, I usually stick to the ten question format, but I had to ask this. What do you think about some of TechCrunch’s competition such as Mashable, TheNextWeb, RWW, and AllThingsD? Are these competitors? Do you have any favorites?

Mashable is just shit, isn’t it? I mean, real crap. Next Web I’ve never really read, but Europeans seem to like it and their conference is supposed to be very good. RWW is getting better but I still almost never read it. I’m not supposed to like AllThingsD but I do — Kara acts like a snarky little school bully sometimes, but she’s a good reporter, has real sources and is really the only competitor to TC in that list.

Actually, including ATD in that list is a bit mean to Kara. I’d put Business Insider on a list of TC rivals before I included RWW. And what about Om? He’s good too. But Mashable? Jesus. Awful.


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hilzfuld

Hillel is Co Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at ZCast, a company taking on the pain of modern audio broadcasting. Hillel also blogs for many influential sites including TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more. Hillel has been named Israel's top marketer, has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, and many others and was recently added by Google to its marketing experts program. You can find and talk to Hillel on Twitter. He is @Hilzfuld.

 

3 thoughts on “An Interview with Paul Carr about Living in Hotels and Five Words Every Startup Should Know

  1. Man, tech media was supposed to be a boring business!

    Somehow the tech media scene became a mayhem second only to (perhaps) the gossip/entertainment media scene 🙂

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