Photo credit: @JulieFoster
Pax Dickinson, co-founder of WeSearchr and former CTO of Business Insider, has been battling social justice warriors for years, and he has no intention of stopping anytime soon. This week, he faced off against Anil Dash on Twitter in defense of Peter Thiel’s funding of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker.
We had the opportunity to talk to Dickinson about the battle with Dash, his firing from Business Insider in 2013, his new business venture and much more.
EveryJoe: In your recent tweet, you referred to being blacklisted by Anil Dash. How did you become blacklisted?
Pax Dickinson: I was fired from my job as Business Insider CTO after a Valleywag article (Valleywag is a Gawker property) took 3+ year old joke tweets out of context, the proximate incident actually being my pushback against the perpetually offended tech feminists during the “Titstare” controversy. Cathy Young chronicled the story here.
During the whole uproar, Anil Dash was a major voice calling for me to be fired, and knowing we had been working in the same building I offered to let him say those things to my face. We agreed to a meeting over coffee and after the meeting he wrote a blog post about it, which included the line “If you’re a venture capitalist, and you invest in Pax’s startup without a profound, meaningful and years-long demonstration of responsibility from Pax beforehand, you’re complicit in extending the tech industry’s awful track record of exclusion, and it’s unacceptable.”
I consider that a blacklisting, and I definitely lost other work because of it. People I interviewed with told me directly that I was the most qualified candidate yet they could not hire me, and several recruiters dropped me as a client when they found out who I was.
At the time of publication, Dickinson has been suspended by Twitter for 12 hours with no reason given as to why. The above Tweet was deleted by Twitter.
EJ: What do you think about Peter Thiel’s funding of the lawsuit against Gawker?
Dickinson: I think it’s great. It’s about time someone stood up against Gawker. Peter Thiel referred to them as a terrorist organization years ago and he was absolutely right.
In my opinion, the way the rest of the media is defending Gawker in lockstep as some sort of exemplar of journalism is doing far more damage to the institution of journalism than anything Peter Thiel has done. If journalism was capable of policing itself none of this would have been necessary.
Let’s remember Gawker is the company that made a business out of fomenting social justice mobs for profit and also published such Pulitzer-quality gems of journalism as “If You Don’t Want To Watch A Fish Suck a Dick, Here’s a Description” and “Horse Genitals Taste of Hay and More Curious Delights from a Horsefucker.” This isn’t some treasured civil institution, it’s a gang of leftist scumbags with a shitty blog. Gawker Delenda Est.
EJ: Why do you think Silicon Valley has become such a hotbed of SJWs?
Dickinson: I’m not sure, I think it might be a California thing. I’ve spent most of my tech career working in New York City and the culture of the NYC tech scene is pretty different. It’s less full of itself because in NYC tech is an industry that’s third or fourth on the totem pole at best.
I don’t have a great feel for Silicon Valley because I hate that place and everything about it. I don’t know how people can possibly live in San Francisco, it’s such an awful, awful place. In one of the old James Bond movies Christopher Walken plays a villain planning to trigger an earthquake and flood Silicon Valley. That seems like a great idea, Bond should have let him do it.
EJ: What is your new business WeSearchr about? How is it going to change things?
Dickinson: WeSearchr is a business that applies the crowdfunding model to journalistic research. We allow Askers to post Bounties and get their interested audience to fund that Bounty in order to entice researchers and whistleblowers to produce the desired information. Upon success, the Asker gets to publish the Answer and keep 10% of the money raised. The winning researcher gets 75% of the Bounty, and we at WeSearchr keep 15%.
WeSearchr decentralizes journalistic research and takes the decisions once made in newsrooms about what resources to apply to which story and lets the market decide. I think Journalism 2.0 was a failure, in that it just replicated the old newsroom structure and content and hired the same J-school grads and simply brought it to a new medium. It failed because it wasn’t doing anything new, and its degeneration into clickbait was as inevitable as the coming massive media business contraction.
At WeSearchr we’re genuinely reinventing journalism with a brand new model incorporating crowdfunding to build a journalism that publishes whatever people are genuinely willing to pay for. We have bounties on political figures like Hillary and Trump, and corporate ne’er-do-wells like Twitter and Facebook, but we also want to publish bounties on entertainment and gossip and sports as well.
WeSearchr is a genuinely innovative way of funding the news and helping to hasten the death of clickbait media, I don’t know how the experiment will turn out but I know it will be an exciting ride. If we succeed we’ll change journalism forever. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever worked on.
EJ: Was it hard for you to re-enter business after what happened?
Dickinson: I eventually managed to find work at below-market rates through friends and former co-workers, after promising to conceal my identity. I knew I wanted to launch another startup though, and the resultant notoriety from the blacklisting ended up putting me in contact with Chuck Johnson and he had this great idea for a journalism crowdfunding site, I couldn’t possibly turn down that kind of adventure.
Ultimately being blacklisted and fired is the best thing that ever happened to me, due to the high-profile nature I was able to use it somewhat to my advantage. I’ve met so many amazing people because of what happened to me and while it did close a lot of doors for me, it opened some others and the ones it opened are far more interesting anyway.
I think it’s important for me to keep my profile high and make sure everyone sees a guy who has been put through that social justice shaming ordeal come out the other side of it unbowed and refusing to slink away in disgrace. They’ve taken their shot at me and I’m still standing, and now they’re out of ammo and all it accomplished was pissing me off.
EJ: Any advice for surviving an attack like you suffered?
Dickinson: Vox Day’s book SJWs Always Lie is essential and he gets it right. Never apologize. I eventually let myself get talked into giving an apology of sorts, it was a mistake. I shouldn’t have bothered.
I think now that it’s been publicized, there are people who want to help. I’ve talked to a few people who have been fired for their opinions and given them advice. I think those of us who have lost our jobs due to this kind of censorship need to stand together and support each other whenever possible.
The only thing you can ultimately do is try to engineer a career for yourself that is as anti-fragile as possible. People like Mike Cernovich and Vox Day are leading the way and WeSearchr is an attempt to follow in that vein. When we get attacked by social justice warriors it only makes us stronger.
EJ: What’s your opinion of Donald Trump’s presidential run? Do you think he’ll make a difference in fighting Political Correctness in America?
Dickinson: I think Trump is great, and it has nothing to do with his policies. He represents the regular guy standing up and telling the PC gang that we’re not gonna take it anymore.
Win or lose, he’s setting an example to the men of America how to respond to bullshit shaming tactics. The guy is an inspiration, frankly. I hope to see some other billionaires following the example that Trump and Thiel are setting. I get the sense that a lot of the Silicon Valley top CEOs are quietly sympathetic and I hope they find their balls and start pushing back as well before it’s too late. Trump is doing even more important work as a national life coach right now than he would probably be able to do as President.
EJ: What do you think of so-called Republicans who are still #NeverTrump?
Dickinson: A few past-their-prime pundits clinging to the wreckage of their sinking careers. The grassroots of #NeverTrump, such that it exists, will all come around and pull the lever for Trump when the election gets closer and all those Supreme Court vacancies start weighing on them.
The “electability” people in the GOP got their way the last two elections and still lost. They made the grassroots eat a shit sandwich with McCain and Romney and now it’s their turn to take a big bite.