Exclusives are bad

Quick note on funding rounds

I sneak funding rounds into my writing cadence as often as I can. It’s always fun to talk to founders, learn a bit about different parts of the tech landscape, and also get a handle on where investors are putting capital to work, so I try to do as many as possible.

But as every startup and PR person and journalist still covering funding knows, the number of rounds so greatly outstrips the amount of time that relevant reporters’ have, many (most?) don’t get covered at all.

This has led to more and more folks to offer exclusives when they pitch a round. I don’t think that it’s a very good idea.

Here’s why:

  • I only cover rounds that I think matter, so exclusivity doesn’t change my calculus.

  • I cover funding rounds when the other parts of my job (breaking news! podcast! column! newsletters! editing for my friends with whom I work!) are done, so they can, at times, fall by the wayside. And having an exclusive essentially means that if the news cycle takes over my life, the startup in question can get stuck in an awkward holding pattern.

Throw in the fact that I am always behind on comms and it’s a mess.

If I am going to cover a round, it should be because the company is doing something interesting in terms of product or growth. Or its part of a broader trend that we’re tracking. Or its founder is particularly fascinating and thus holds our attention. Or it has a particular backer that we’re keeping tabs on for one reason or another. Or it is attacking a particularly pernicious incumbent.

None of the good reasons to cover a round have to do with who else might be covering it. Fuck ‘em! TechCrunch has a good sized audience and so I don’t really need to worry whether anyone else is covering the same round.

Especially for early-stage startups who are probably doing their best to get a little attention. I don’t need to cut down their shot at more press to assuage my ego. And when it comes to later-stage rounds of note, everyone covers those already, so exclusivity is moot.

Summing, exclusives don’t seem to help much and only make things worse.