With a hurricane approaching the eastern seaboard, everyone seems to be wound a little tighter than usual – at least that is one explanation for the non-fight fight on Twitter between Business Insider editor and CEO Henry Blodget and AllThingsD co-editor and co-founder Kara Swisher.
Blodget (pictured left), no stranger to controversy, caused a stir in the techie world Friday morning when he speculated that Groupon had orchestrated the public release of an internal letter rebutting criticism it has faced.
Observers have questioned Groupon’s slowing growth and cash flow, prompting CEO Andrew Mason to send a lengthy memo to his employees explaining why he is as confident as ever about the company’s future.
That is all above board, but Swisher got her hands on the memo – something she has a particular talent for — and published it in full.
SEC rules stipulate that companies cannot make public statements in the months leading up to their initial public offering so as not to inflate their stock price.
A website leaking the memo is not illegal, but if Groupon had anything to do with it, it would violate SEC rules.
That is where the fight begins, because Blodget smelled something suspicious.
In a piece published Friday morning, he charged that Groupon was clearly trying to get around the SEC’s rules and that it had distributed the memo with the help of a “trusted media outlet” – meaning AllThingsD.
Blodget went on to claim the leaking of the memo was a strategy formulated by Mason and a team of attorneys and PR experts. When Blodget was reached via e-mail, he reiterated this belief: "My guess is Groupon wanted to get that message out and authorized someone to send the email to Kara, knowing she would publish it."
Unclear in the post is whether Blodget believes that Swisher was complicit in all this. While he says the memo was delivered to Swisher, he also suggests that AllThingsD agreed to a “deal.” It’s hard to know whether this is sour grapes or not, since Blodget seems to think his site was on a short list of places that could have received the letter.
What is clear is that Swisher is not happy with Blodget's charges — the article produced a lengthy Twitter war between the pair.
Swisher called the former analyst a liar at least five different ways, saying he made the “deal” up, deeming him a “fabulist” and calling the accusation “untrue,” “fictional” and, ultimately, “pathetic.”
She added that if a member of Blodget’s team had gotten the memo, he would have posted it.
Blodget did not deny that. Instead, he tried to make clear that he was — to use Swisher's word — impugning Groupon, not AllThingsD, and continued to stand by his claims.
Swisher’s criticisms seem to have gotten to Blodget, who ultimately clarified his stance on Business Insider: “In other words, Kara Swisher acted completely appropriately, and we thank her for bringing Groupon's statement to our attention.”
None of this did the trick for Swisher, who ended her tweet-rampage with: “@hblodget here's my view today, henry, and thankfully, you're not in it: twitpic.com/6bkrvp (got it via airbnb, so go to town).
The photo (above) shows a house steps from the beach, where Swisher is presumably vacationing.
When Swisher was reached by e-mail, this was what she had to say: "He clearly insinuated and lazily called it "speculation" that I was somehow in cahoots with Groupon. It was not true, he never called to ask if it were and I doubt you'd like someone to say that about you.
Also I am Italian."