Jason Calacanis stands up to bullies

Jeff Jarvis says

that Jason Calacanis is "the single most competitive person I’ve ever met,"

and quotes an email from him claiming "3-4x the traffic of gizmodo"

for his rival gadget blog, engadget.

(According to Alexa,

engadget’s pageviews are just under 30 million per day, while gizmodo’s are

just over 16 million. The numbers might be wrong, but the relative

numbers are probably pretty solid.) Even an exclusive interview

with Bill Gates, it seems, can’t persuade Calacanis to give his rival Nick Denton

any props.

At least Jason Calacanis vs Nick Denton makes conceptual sense. Now, however,

let me present to you… Jason Calacanis vs Steve Jobs! That’s right, in his

latest blog entry, Calacanis menaces Jobs with the threat

that he might stop publishing tuaw.com. "We

need each other Steve," writes Calacanis, "and you trying to bully

us is just unfair and, frankly, pretty ungrateful." Naturally, Jobs is

not in any way trying to bully Calacanis or The Unofficial Apple Weblog: Calacanis

is using the first person plural here to refer to journalists in general, and

"Nick de Plume" of ThinkSecret

specifically – the publisher Apple is suing.

Referring back

to Alexa, ThinkSecret gets about 2.7 million pageviews per day, while tuaw.com

gets, well, nothing, really. Still, the two sites are competitors, and in that

respect I’m sure that Nick de Plume would be more than happy for Calacanis to

pull his Apple blog. And I’m equally sure that Steve Jobs couldn’t care less

whether Calacanis writes about him or not. But Calacanis isn’t done yet: "you

need to learn to play nice in the sandbox or we’re going to go home, and

I can tell you it’s no fun playing alone," he tells Jobs, apparently

in the belief that if he stops writing about Apple, then so will everybody


Reading this latest post reminded me of the Calacanis

classic from August, wherein our hero faces down two enormous black men

in a gas station forecourt:

I’m five-nine on a good day, and these guys were both well over six

feet. One looked like he just stepped out a gym and the other looked like

he could have been in the WWF he was so—well—large.

I assessed the situation quickly. First I noticed the size of the first guys

neck.—it was big, and was my best shot of taking him out. One punch

to his throat would probably kill him. The other guy, well, he was pretty

round and there was no neck to punch. I’d have to find another target—perhaps

his knees. They couldn’t be very strong since he was carrying all that

extra weight around. One low side kick and that knee would snap like a dry

twig—he wouldn’t be getting up.

This assessment took about two seconds—it’s what I’ve been

trained to do all my life. First by my father and then by the masters of the

ancient art, and I put my odds at about 90% given that they might have a gun.

I’ll save you the suspense: it turns out the two enormous black men are travelling

with their mother, and she ends up saving our Brooklyn hero (who also does a

mean southern accent, we’re told) from having to play those odds. Calacanis

then feels "one the greatest senses of serenity in my life".

I’ll say this for Calacanis: his pathological self-importance can certainly

be entertaining. Needless to say, however, a spokesman for the journalistic

community in general he is not, even if Apple suing ThinkSecret really isn’t

a very nice thing to do.

While I’m on the subject of blogs, by the way, I should also admit here that

I was wrong about Gawker

back in July. "Gawker has never had more than 600,000 unique visitors in

any given month," I wrote then, "and at present rates, it looks as

though it could be a very long time until it does." In fact, it only took

until November: in each of the past two months, Gawker has broken

the 600,000 barrier, and it will

do so again in January. Jessica Coen and Matt Haber might not have the buzz

of Elizabeth Spiers and Choire Sicha, but they have many more readers than those

predecessors did. It’ll be interesting to see whether Lockhart Steele, in his


job, can help get Gawker’s numbers higher still.

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14 Responses to Jason Calacanis stands up to bullies

  1. rexblog says:

    Jason and the whinernauts

    Jason and the whinernauts: I’m on record implying Apple is rotten to the core for suing a blogger, but still, why would Steve Jobs give a rat’s ass whether or not Jason Calacanis shuts down his “unofficial” Apple weblog .

  2. bafc23 says:

    umm, didn’t know bloggers needed martial arts backgrounds to survive once they start getting page-hits in the millions. Now I’m glad I only get 13.5 hits per day.

    Just in case, I guess I’ll need to re-join the Secret Ninja Secrets School of Chop-socky Kung Fu while I wait for the masses to discover my blog.

  3. Stefan Geens says:

    Thanks for the update. But doesn’t this mean you owe Nick a very nice dinner? Aren’t you being a little quiet about the fact you have just lost a bet?

  4. Felix says:

    Indeed, Stefan, you’re right, or nearly right. I bought Nick lunch at Lever House last month. Very pleasant it was too: quite the tastiest humble pie I’ve ever eaten.

  5. Jason says:

    >> Referring back to Alexa, ThinkSecret

    >> gets about 2.7 million pageviews per

    >> day, while tuaw.com gets, well,

    >> nothing, really.

    That is because we just moved from http://apple.webogsinc.com to http://www.tuaw.com (I got the four letter domain recently… really excited about that. There are no four letter domains left these days!).

    If you look at weblogsinc.com and the apple section in the Alexa traffic you can get an idea of how it is doing. I think we are doing like 500-750k pages a month… not cose to ThinkSecret, but TUAW is a new blog and I’m sure it will get up to a couple of million shortly.

    >> But Calacanis isn’t done yet: “you need

    >> to learn to play nice in the sandbox or

    >> weÌre going to go home, and I can tell

    >> you itÌs no fun playing alone,” he tells

    >> Jobs, apparently in the belief that if

    >> he stops writing about Apple, then so

    >> will everybody else.

    Well, I certainly don’t think people will stop writing about Apple because I tell them to! That is insane… what i think is that if Apple starts to take legal action against folks who print rumors that will result in people either a) not starting Apple sites or b) taking their attention off of their Apple sites. I mean, there are so many ways to make a business… why would you put yourself in the cross-hairs of Apple??!

    This is just the continuation of the chilling effect (http://www.chillingeffects.org/ ) in which big companies try and stifle the emerging people’s journalism movement. My goal in this was to communicate to Steve Jobs how I feel as a publisher, and spark some debate about how journalists are being treated these days.

    As for my “pathological self-importance,” I think any blogger/writer/artist/business person who writes about their feeling in an honest way is going to run that risk of being perceived that way.

    We are a tiny business in a tiny but growing pond… we have 70 blogs and we get tens of millions of page views… wow, that’s amazing for a one-year old blog company, but the truth is that is just a blip on the Internet business radar. We’ve got a long way to go, and a lot more work if we are going to make this into a real business.

    all the best,


  6. Felix says:

    Just in case y’all didn’t notice Jason subtly reframing the units there (he did today as well), he’s comparing ThinkSecret’s 2.7 million pageviews per day to TUAW’s 500,000 pageviews per month. Even if that does rise to 2 million, he’s still at less than 2.5% of ThinkSecret’s numbers, even assuming zero growth at ThinkSecret over the same time period.

  7. Josh says:

    Wasn’t Jason Calcanis the same guy who wrote those intensely threatening (and unintentionally hilarious) emails to Jake Dobkin at Gothamist some months ago? He is!! I just went on Gothamist and found this: http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2004/06/11/calacanis_jumps_the_shark.php

  8. Jason says:

    2.7M pages a day?!?!!? Oh… I misread that.

    That is almost 90M a month… that is amazing if that is the correct.

    However, I’m not sure it is correct… maybe they had a day when they hit that 2.7m number but 90M pages a month is huge.

    Alexa gets it’s rankings from their Toolbar and the toolbar isn’t available on Macs–PCs running IE only! So Mac sites are probably counted at 1/2 the rate they should. Heck, folks with a high % of firefox users like Slashdot, Engadget and Gizmodo are taking a 10-20% ding I’m sure.

    ThinkSecret has a 42k traffic rank. That *might* really be a 5-20k rank. However, even with the 5k ranking they are not getting 90M pages… at least I don’t think so. Who knows, maybe their real rank is like 2k… that would put them in the 30M page area… which is still amazing, but not 90M.

    Anyway… I wasn’t “subtly reframing the units there,” nope… i just made a mistake.

  9. Jason says:

    Looks like the EFF is going to backup the Apple bloggers:


    On the opening day of the annual Macworld show in San Francisco, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said it is representing the publishers of AppleInsider and PowerPage. The two sites were sued for posting information about an alleged product code-named Asteroid. The sites maintain that the company will announce a new external device this week that lets musicians plug in traditional music equipment into a Macintosh computer.

    Apple executives were not immediately available for comment after repeated requests.

    The Macintosh-maker obtained a court order to subpoena the AppleInsider and PowerPage sites after it filed a suit on Dec. 13 in a Santa Clara court. Apple said it wanted the names behind a post entitled, “Does 1-20,” which allegedly leaked the information in question.

    The EFF countered saying bloggers’ sources are protected by the same laws that protect sources providing information to journalists.

    “Bloggers break the news, just like journalists do. They must be able to promise confidentiality in order to maintain the free flow of information,” EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a statement. “Without legal protection, informants will refuse to talk to reporters, diminishing the power of the open press that is the cornerstone of a free society.”

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