Alternate Reality

Inside the TechCrunch Child Labor Scandal

Michael Arrington’s revelation that one of his teen bloggers accepted bribes was the tip of a much larger story. We reveal who’s really writing all those TechCrunch posts.

By (@tynanwrites)

February 6, 2010

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

Silicon Valley was rocked last week by an event unprecedented in its 70-year-history.

Last Thursday, at approximately 9 PM PST, Michael Arrington apologized.

More specifically, the TechCrunch doyenne apologized for the behavior of one of his teenage “interns,” whom he said had accepted bribes in exchange for favorable posts about a startup on the highly trafficked site.

Mr. Arrington, known for his highly entertaining lectures on journalism ethics, fired the intern, deleted all his posts, and vowed to “always maintain complete transparency … on how we operate,” yet inexplicably failed to reveal a single detail about the bribed intern or the name(s) of the companies he took bribes from.

The “intern” has since been identified as Daniel Brusilovsky, age 16, pictured above. His actual job title: “Writer/Events/Business Development.” The bribe he extracted for a single blog post: A MacBook Air. The company that bribed him: Still unknown.

However, eSarcasm has uncovered a more insidious truth. As these photos reveal, TechCrunch has been operating a digital sweatshop in the basement below its swank Palo Alto offices. Here, child “interns” produce blog post after blog post, in a backbreaking daily grind broken up only by potty breaks and nap times.

When asked to comment on our discovery, veteran blog watchers were shocked yet strangely unsurprised.

“Fourth-grade-level prose, fantastical stories that couldn’t possibly be true, the use of invisible friends as sources — suddenly it all makes sense,” said one observer who asked not to be named because he’d like to show his face at Buck’s Diner again. “Now I finally understand TechCrunch.”

Worse, that MacBook was far from the only quid pro quo exchanged for favorable coverage. eSarcasm has obtained a partial list of the bribes accepted by TechCrunch’s child laborers; they include:

  • JuJubes
  • Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
  • Legos Star Wars Republic Attack Cruiser
  • A boxed set of Hannah Montana DVDs
  • A 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo*

At press time, TechCrunch had failed to respond to repeated requests for comment. Actually, we never bothered to actually contact them. What’s the point – we already know what they would have said. That’s how real journalists operate. Right?

* We’re pretty sure that one was for Mike.

Brusilovsky photo courtesy of Gawker/Valleywag.

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  • Wanksta

    These guys WILL take bribes:

    • Wanksta, while the TechWankers post was funny, it made an interesting point: “Bribes, sponsorships, pay to post, valley boys network = all the same thing.” Personally (as I've stated previously, in the context of mommybloggers) I have no problem with pay to post as long as there's disclosure, but it is an interesting way to look at journalistic objectivity.

  • I owe you an apology, because right in the middle of your hard-hitting journalistic piece, I started inexplicably (and literally) laughing out loud at the mention of “invisible friends.”

    You may have also solved the CrunchPad issue – presumably there's a contractual document that supports all of Arrington's ownership claims, but one of the young interns traded it for a nude picture of a grownup TechCrunch associate whose name rhymes with “Casey.”

  • hmm. was that picture taken before or after her colon cleansing? makes a big diff, I hear.


  • IreneColdman

    This is an amazing story and I can't imagine why and how would anyone do such a thing. Why would they risk so much and besides that, why would they risk going to jail?

    baby headbands

    [comment edited to remove link. baby headbands? seriously?]

  • I like this blog,but surprised a bit to see the total condition.
    These are just kids and what can they do except playing games?

  • I like this post but I have a bit confusion.
    The confusion is about the work.
    What these kids can do except playing computer games?

  • momo

    You know a “doyenne” is a woman, right?

  • momo

    You know a “doyenne” is a woman, right?

    • yes. ever seen arrington in drag? we don’t recommend it.