Perspective, Pontification and Propoganda about Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, brought to you by David Hornik of Lobby Capital.

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Christoph Jaggi

It seems fairly obvious that Robert owns Scobleizer, as he created and used it before signing on with Microsoft. He might not be the Microsoft Geek Blogger anymore, but he is still Scobleizer. The content created during his emplyoment with Microsoft might be another ballgame.
If there is any lesson to be learned then maybe that companies should have their corporate bloggers blog on a company-owned website.

Matt Marshall

David, what did Robert say about this?


>>In the mean time, it may be time for me to start Hornikizer: August Capital's Freak Blogger.

... um, not if you want to keep your job, that is ;)

- dave mcclure

David Hornik

Maybe he owns the name Scobelizer but it turns out that the vast majority of company IP Agreements require the employee to grant a license in the IP that the employee continues working on once he begins his employment. So even if Scoble owned the name before getting to Microsoft, he would still have to grant Microsoft a license in everything before he became employed by Microsoft and Microsoft would own everything after.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to ask Robert what he thought about the idea that Microsoft might own Scobleizer. I wish I had.

As for Hornikizer, you are absolutely right Dave. One of my partners told me today that after reading my blog post he wanted to be very clear that he did not in any way want to be associated with me or anything that I write. So Hornikizer is all mine : )


Blogging on a company owned website - good point. But also there are people that will blog in their personal blogs about work and outside of office hours. So, where to draw the line? It really becomes blurry.


Robert always made it clear it was HIS personal blog, firstly hosted on Radio Userland latterly on Wordpress. In fact, certainly early on, he only did entries in his own time and he never was a 'official' Microsoft blogger. I always thought it was a smart move for both parties - Microsoft could disown Robert and equally Robert could leave taking his brand with him.

Davis Freeberg

I think that you probably have a good technical argument but part of what makes a blog a blog and not a website is the personal nature to it. A company can own a website, but they can't own a blog because it's the author that makes a blog so authentic. Scoble's commitment to speak his mind openly and honestly with his readers is what made his blog so authentic, not some fancy URL. Microsoft understands the importance of that authenticity and I doubt that we would ever see them try and exercise those technical rights. They know better then anyone that if they tried something that dumb that it would be a very scary episode of when blogs attack, going after Scoble would be like feeding red meat to hungry sharks who are waiting for their next controversy. You can take the domain name, but you can't replace the contacts, community and the personality that make up a blog.

Josh Kopelman

Very interesting point...

I wonder - does this mean that August Capital owns VentureBlog?

Christoph Jaggi

Getting Robert's thoughts on that subject would be indeed interesting.
"...and Microsoft would own everything after": Not really. In the best possible case for the employer, just the content that was written during the emplyoment.
Scobelizer is part of Robert's persona and unless explicitly acquired by Microsoft should be still the sole property of Robert. An employer might acquire a limited right for certain, limited aspects of the persona during the emplyoment, but it is highly unlikely that aspects of the persona would fall under the IP assignment.


eh, this is nothing new. writers have had to deal with this in all sorts of media. basically, dave, you're right that microsoft 'owns' the content, just as much as nyt 'owns' saffire's columns.

but, just like nyt, microsoft should have been prepared for the day when their star columnist would leave. just like nyt, they should be able to hand over the popular column to an equally capable writer.

if i am not mistaken, gawker navigated this very issue when losing a few top writers. and i am sure that other media outlets from tv to magazines to newpapaers have to deal with this on a regular basis.

really, nothing new here exepct the participants.


yeah, and i lived in this world and experienced it myself and find it interesting that so many issues brought up by main stream media could be useful here (in the blogging world). ironic, huh?

Martin Wells

I agree the company owns the material, but with the NYT "column" argument, shouldn't Microsoft retain the RSS feed and web URL? Then we could see another blogger step in and fulfill the role.

The mistake was that Microsoft didn't own the blog in the first place. Though it's forgivable since the blog obviously grew in popularity organically, Microsoft couldn't see it coming -- and if they did it was too late already.

Robert however can't really walk away from the fact that he has now personally benefited from this. I think the ethical thing to do would be for him to hand over the blog to MS, make a new one, and with Microsoft's permission, announce the new address. All of which is never going to happen.

For company's that want to have their employees write blogs they should make sure it's clearly a company owned site/feed which has one or more "writers". If the person gets famous that's still fine. When the writer leaves they can replace them.


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away from the fact that he has now personally benefited from this.

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