Jeremiah Owyang Taught Us Many Lessons…Sadly!

oopsPlease read Jeremiah’s recent blog post:

Expect Changes at Mzinga

Mzinga is one of the companies that I closely watch, in fact, they were in my recent Wave, which was started last summer, and performed well.

I’ve been hearing from multiple sources in a variety of folks that Mzinga is undergoing some changes. With the recent layoffs a few months ago, to apparently voluntary leave of the CMO this week, there are a lot of questions I have to ask.

Today alone, I’ve received over four direct messages or emails from individuals suggesting there is some difficulties. I’m being vague on purpose, as I’m not going to start rumors and I’m not going to speculate without first talking to the company.

Mzinga responded to my queries in public on Twitter, and we’re planning on speaking next Monday, one week from now. It’s interesting to note, that if I don’t hear from the company themselves, others will tell me, resulting in my asking questions in public.

Why this post? It’s my obligation to have my clients best interest in mind, and this is the fastest way for me to reach them, by using the tools where we’re already connected.

I strongly recommend that any Mzinga clients or prospects stall any additional movement till they brief me next Monday.

I promise to be fair and balanced in my coverage towards Mzinga –yet with the interest of buyers and brands foremost.

The following is my response on his blog:

  1. Derek Showerman March 17th, 2009 5:53 am

    Jeremiah, I respect your work and find pretty much every Twitter post to be insightful and incredibly valuable. But to me, this post shows that you need to be humbled. When you are talking about “rumored” changes, you need to leave it at that. There are people’s jobs on the line. People with children! People with dreams! People that are passionate about their job.
    The beauty of Social Media is it allows people to be human-and to err is human. So I will throw you a mulligan for this one. However, Social Media also self regulates-I would be remiss if I didn’t call you out. Telling companies to stop buying from Mzinga is not your job. Your job is to analyze, not be passing judgement on who companies should be doing business with based on “rumors”.

So what are the lessons learned?
  1. Journalism 101 tells you to never report based on rumors.
  2. Be objective and dont pass judgement!
  3. Verify! verify! verify!
  4. Listen to your inner-self! With success comes responsibility. Many years of hard work can be hurt if you don’t continue to think before you act. If something doesn’t feel right while you are writing it, then chances are you should not publish it.

In the end, Jeremiah will be fine! He is smart guy, a great person in fact, who had an error in judgement! We all have moments in life where we are humbled. Throw Jeremiah a mulligan on this one and don’t judge him. Let’s hope his rumors are not true!

13 responses to “Jeremiah Owyang Taught Us Many Lessons…Sadly!

  • Mike P

    Mulligan? I am not too sure about that. Being a golfer, Mulligans are granted to those who are generally new to the game.

    As everyone that will read this post and blog understands, he has been around plenty. He understands.
    I think that Barry Libert said it appropriately:

    “I am disheartened by your communications today given your position as an independent authority in the social media space.”

    I think that is the key point in this entire situation. Pick up the phone and make a call, then report your findings after things are made public. Until that time, keep your mouth closed and don’t tell companies to:

    “I strongly recommend that any Mzinga clients or prospects stall any additional movement till they brief me next Monday.”

    very irresponsible

    Mike P
    @ nhscooch

  • JonB

    Thanks for chiming in here and elsewhere Derek. As you well know and point out well, there are people involved.

  • Coach P

    Was completely irresponsible, and he should not get a mulligan.

    If this had occurred at Boston Globe or NY Times, wold probably have been fired for not having verified the rumors first.

    An experienced analyst would not have posted rumors.

  • derekshowerman

    It is fair that people make a call for blood. But remember the great deal of good will Jeremiah has stored up. Most times he shares very valuable insights without any thought of return. Think about how many people got jobs because of him. This is a bad karma blip for him and is not the norm.

  • Steph

    Someone mentioned “lessons learned”, which I think is a really important point. What are the lessons learned? Did we all learn the same ones, or are there different (and potentially conflicting) lessons here?

    I think I learned that having the means and ability to say something doesn’t mean that you should say it, but there are other lessons here too — perhaps lots of them.

    What do we think they are?

  • collateraldamage

    Never, ever file on rumors. that’s probably the biggest difference between a journalist and a non-journalist information provider. anyone who always verifies his info qualifies as a journalist — regardless of medium used. (and believe me — plenty of people paid to be journalists have filed on rumor and faced the professional consequences.)

    while it’s interesting that the company responded to Jeremiah’s twittered questions there are times when you have to pick up the phone and call and ask a direct question and quote the response and ID the person who gave it to you. this is reporting 101 and how to be trusted 101.

  • Tom Humbarger


    I’m in the “don’t give Jeremiah a mulligan” camp. Your comment said it best in that there are people’s jobs, lives and reputations at stake. It is totally irresponsible for a respected analyst working at a respected research firm to let innuendo and rumor drive a blog post that publicly says not to do business with a company until I get back to you.

    Mzinga should sue his ass and Forrester’s ass from here to Sunday…and Forrester should give him his walking papers.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Mark

    Count me one of the “no mulligan” peeps too. He’s not a journalist – journalists don’t get paid by the people they cover. That would be a conflict of interest………

  • Isaac Hazard


    Thanks for the forum. I’m always intersted in your take on the matters of the day.

    Full disclosure – I am a current employee at Mzinga.

    When I first read JO’s post I was outraged. Overnight as the mass of critical comments streamed in, I started to feel some sympathy for JO. “Jeremiah is a hard worker,” I said to myself. “He has done a lot to promote our industry and has generally directed a lot of attention towards Mzinga which I/we have greatly appreciated. Beyond that, I am indebted to him as a professional in the social media industry for generating a lot of the discourse from which I’ve derived my own expertise in the medium. Doesn’t that (and as you mention) give him some room to make a mistake?”

    However, when I read his subsequent apology that truly felt (grammar aside) that it had been copied and pasted out of the Forrester handbook filed under Forced Apologies, my anger returned. Precisely due to the fact that he holds such a prominent role in the industry he needs to hold himself and be held to a high standard. This post falls FAR short of that standard and he deserves criticism.

    Does he deserve to be fired? Possibly. Do I want him to be fired? No. As I said I think he is a valuable asset to the industry and I know I personally have a lot to learn from him moving forward. I also think that everyone deserves second and third chances. In this case, I think that forgive and forget is the wrong approach. Rather, I will conditionally forgive and try to move on. Good luck to Jeremiah getting through this and to Mzinga moving past it as well.

  • Edw3rd

    Mulligan? You’ve got to be kidding. This isn’t his first ridiculous, self-absorbed post. But this time, by rallying “his clients” to await his Judgments, he jumped the shark and people finally said ENOUGH!

    Do I believe this experience will diminish this hubris? Nope.

  • Brian

    Sue his ass? Fired? Deep breath everybody. He’s apologized, publicly and regrets his mistake. Read on:

  • What Twitter can’t do « Collateral Damage

    […] Etc. Etc. (For a great example of why Twitterviews are an absurd source of information see this post by Derek S… […]

  • Brian Harris

    Like Isaac, I will note I am under Mzinga employ. I wasn’t going to post a comment until I saw another Brian who folks might misconstrue as me, so I thought I would add my tweet on the topic with my full name (nothing against Brian’s comment, it is just not how I feel on this).

    “The apology of @jowyang did not feel sincere. Bossy public demands are not the behavior of a respectable (and followable) analyst. Bye JO”

    I have chosen to drop my Twitter following of Jeremiah. From my personal experience with him, to his ineffectual apology, I believe Edw3rd described what grates against my sensibility the most: the hubris.

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