Daniel Eran Dilger
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Special Report: Why I can’t report on the Apple shareholder meeting

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Daniel Eran Dilger

A series of tragic circumstances related to Apple’s shareholder meeting yesterday has resulted in problems only you the reader can help solve. So I’m enlisting your help.
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Members of the media who attend Apple’s shareholder meeting as reporters and not shareholders have pressured Apple to prevent me from reporting on the questions I posed to Steve Jobs as a shareholder of record. Unfortunately, the tech media also refuses to report on those events.

This has also prevented me from sharing my experience at the meeting outside of RoughlyDrafted, given I agreed not to cover the meeting in order to placate members of the tech media who have found my ability to ask questions in front of them so greatly offensive since 2008.

On top of all this, I was also up late the night before working on my final iPad Myth 10 segment, in collaboration with Bay Area comedienne KharaCara, who helped turn my intended “Get a Mac” skit into what might be too suggestive for some audiences.

Armed with about three hours of sleep, I got up early to ride Caltrain down to Cupertino, only to find the system hung up on an accident in Sunnyvale. Fortunately, reader Stephen Keese contacted me to offer a ride to the Apple campus and I got there just in time. A fellow blogger, Dan Butterfield of iPhonAsia.com also gave me a ride back to the City.

In between, I was able to pose questions to Jobs, but as I explain in the video, I can’t report what I asked nor what responses I got. Fortunately, unlike 2008, there wasn’t really all that much to report, thanks in part to the ironic media-led repression of Apple’s shareholder event.

In the meantime, you can watch out for my Myth 10 segment and let me know what you think of its RoughlyDrafted sense of humor.

Thanks! Also, special thanks for the readers who helped me get back and forth to the event at Apple, to Steve Jobs and Tim Cook for answering my questions, and all the people playing supporting roles at Apple, who handled the event without being too excessive about the whole “you blog, therefore you belong in the overflow room with the professional media who are not shareholders” thing.

  • http://blog.cytv.com cy_starkman

    Wow,

    That sounds like an entirely disgusting experience.

    So Daniel, a question. So what if you report on it, what’s going to happen to you? You lose your shares? You lose your right to write? Someone attacks your domain? Won’t get invited for drinks with the media mob after events?

    Are other shareholders prevented from telling their friends and acquaintances what they asked and what the answer was?

    You strike me as the sort of person who would specifically go out of your way to write what the media didn’t like you writing.

    Don’t you have some kind of constitution in the USA, or did the media re-write that bit of history as well?

  • greendave

    Can’t find any decent coverage of the shareholder event – would have been more interesting if you had just listened from the press room and then written a detailed report on all the proceedings.

    Not a great deal of use for your readers that you asked a couple of really incisive questions if we don’t know what they were or what was said in response!

    However, love the articles you have been writing and always read your blog – undoubtedly the most knowledgeable blog and always with a different perspective to the mainstream headline chasers.

  • Jengis

    What sort of question did you ask to have media outlets pressure Apple into stopping you from writing about it? Why is nobody else reporting on this issue? Can you mention what the question was about? i.e iPad, iPod, Apples cash hoard, Steve Jobs? Are there legal reasons you can’t say too much?

  • broadbean

    Can we read on Fake Steve’s blog? ;)

    No, a better idea – please code it so only those with a copy of your Snow Leopard Server can decode it.

  • gert

    Interesting Kafkaesque corner you got your self in Daniel :)

    I do think you made the right decision though.

    And it even reflects stronger than usual (your articles), the ‘depth’ and ‘scope’ of the so called tech media.

    Keep up the great writing (video blogging)!

  • ChuckO

    Can’t Prince McLean write about it? How about here in the comment section? Can you post the question/responses somehow here?

  • counterproductive

    It is tragic.
    So, the tech media are relegated to the press or overflow room since the auditorium is reserved for shareholders. The reporters covering Apple for tech media outlets are not supposed to own Apple shares, since the policy of their employers is to attempt to maintain some appearance of some degree of non-bias.

    Yet, they don’t simply report in an unbiased manner upon the proceedings of interest. They spend their time whining that you get to ask incisive questions in person that they would have never thought of. They don’t like it that you upstage them at every turn and reveal how little grasp they have of the tech issues.

    What I find surprising and tragic, is that Apple listened to them and asked you not to write about it, though you acknowledge your mostly pro-Apple stance and status as a shareholder when you do write, and we love reading your material anyway. This is the Apple that never caters to the press and relies upon thoughtful people like yourself and your readers to clear up many misconceptions that many in the media and tech industry love to stir up and perpetuate. Way to go Apple!

  • ReginaldW

    Sheesh. I have enough places I read, that I tend to not post comments on most sites since it is a PITA to do so, having to create an account to log in. But, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up on RD to post the following, since I thought it relevant and couldn’t find an email address for Daniel to cc it to him. Just mailed as requested.
    —————
    2010 February 26

    re: Daniel Eran Dilger & reporting the Apple Inc shareholders meeting

    Hello AppleInsider,

    I enjoy reading Daniel Eran Dilger in his articles, whether he reports under his own name or under an alias. His articles are great, very well thought out, are detailed and more complete and cover a lot more than other tech writers seem to spew out. While it is very clear that he wears his Apple logo proudly, he is not just a fanboi waving the flag. What he brings to the table is perspective of Apple products as well as competitive products and does an HONEST comparison, not just a hatchet job against anything Apple-related.

    Since Daniel posts both on Roughly Drafted as well as AppleInsider, I tend to read it on AppleInsider to get Daniels articles and the articles that AI puts out in one place and go to RD to see if it has been updated with other articles that didn’t make it to AI as well as to read the comments that others have posted about his articles on RD. His analysis of what appears or actually is happening is so much more relevant, interesting and useful than most of the crap spewed out by so-called journalists. If I want PR crap full of sunshine flowing out of someone’s ass, I’ll subscribe to the PR email’s and ignore all the websites.

    I’ve been an Apple user since 1979 when I got an Apple ][+ with a 4-digit serial number and have used and worked on Apple products since. I’ve worked in three different Apple dealers, one where my position was essentially the Genius guy at today’s Apple Store, but this was in 1985. I’ve worked at three different school’s/school boards as a tech and did spent some time as an on-site tech working independently.

    I am at present, not in the tech field, but I do keep up to date on what is happening out there in the PC, Apple and IT fields. I have a number of family members and some friends who I point in the right direction with my ideas and help a few others out with actual hands-on support. This may change in the future, but at present I am not directly involved in the industry.

    I’ve read Daniel’s articles since shortly after he started RD and I will continue to read his articles as long as he writes them the way he does. Lose him as a writer at your own peril for there are a large number of sites where I simply refuse to go to read for the inanity and gibberish they spout. I hope that AppleInsider.com doesn’t become one of the sites I refuse to visit because of politics or debasing its value for a site with valuable insight and information. The internet, for all its vastness of data is really a desert with only a few oasis’s of great information. My time is valuable and I do not need to waste it with the majority of the crud out there.

    As a solution to the problem of not being able to report on questions asked, why not simply ensure that there are TWO people there, someone who can ASK the questions and someone who can REPORT on the questions. I could care less if Daniel asks the questions personally or someone else asks the questions that Daniel would like answered and Daniel reports on them. As I am in Canada, I have no ability to be there at a shareholders meeting, but I find some of the inane questions asked useless. As Steve Jobs is reported to have said to a number of people, “Do you have a question?” Too much time is spent by people spouting crap rather than in actually asking a question that is relevant, useful and/or interesting. Daniel does not spout crap questions.

    Thank you for your attention and in keeping AppleInsider relevant to the public interested in Apple Inc. and in Apple products.

  • sapridyne

    So, if I understand it correctly, you’re complaining that as a shareholder, you can’t be a tech reporter? I suggest you sale your shares… or stop reporting. Whatever is more important to you.

    Can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

  • gplawhorn

    Seem’s like you’re caught in Apple’s Catch-22, Daniel. The only way to get the questions you want asked is to ask them yourself, but asking them yourself means you can’t report on them. Of course – and I’m not suggesting this, mind you – you could have a private conversation with someone who happened to be the kind of person who tells tales, and THEY could write it up. Not that I’m suggesting that.

    On the video, it’s hard to comment without seeing it. Maybe you could post it so we could look at it and tell you whether or not you should post it :-)

  • http://berendschotanus.com Berend Schotanus

    You Rascal!

    about the shareholder meeting
    Actually I think you did the right thing. You are exploring the borders of what is possible, you are playing with the roles of reporter and shareholder. When I see your face in the video you enjoy doing so.
    Apple is a big company putting a lot of effort in mitigating the “risk” that comes with shareholder meetings. You obviously are a “risk” for them that they are trying to deal with.
    I think it is the right thing to do, to keep your promise. The fact you play it open and honest will help you to maintain a relation with Apple and others. Maybe they will laugh about it in the end. It doesn’t help you if they put you on the blacklist.
    I understand your frustration you cannot publish about your questions but that doesn’t mean they are worthless. It helps you to improve your understanding of what’s going on at Apple.
    You see it as a disappointment other reporters didn’t pick up on your questions. See it as a discovery, you apparently have a unique point of view that others don’t (yet) get. And you shared it with Steve Jobs and Tim Cook.
    Just keep going, the parts will fall in place when the time is right.

    about CalTrain
    I found it interesting to hear about your CalTrain experience. I’ve done a lot of thinking about those train services and how to improve upon them. Currently I’m thinking about a kind of railway-OS (would it be possible to use OS-X principles for better railway operation?)
    But probably the subject is utterly boring for most readers.

    about Myth 10
    Well, I’m not promising I’m gonna applaud. When it’s over the top, it’s over the top. But you have the courage to take risk and go for new experiments, that’s a good thing. So, I’m anticipating…

  • http://www.muir.tumblr.com John Muir

    Poor coverage? This seems plenty good enough:

    http://www.macworld.com/article/146739/2010/02/2010appleshareholdermtg.html

    Sure, it would be nice if Apple had a stream, like Cook’s great Q&A at Goldman Sachs, but then it’d also be jolly decent if the usual nut jobs didn’t have to show up and hog the mike with nonsense.

    As for Daniel, whose questions I’m sure were sensible, this curious post is about the DED / Prince McLean dual identity thing at AppleInsider, I presume? (Rolls eyes.) A bit of full disclosure on what precisely that’s about would probably help some day. Not that I’m suspicious of anything, but whenever it comes up, things get abstruse.

  • JohnWatkins

    Bummer,
    I guess you need to play the system a bit.
    I suggest you ally with a like minded, and long standing shareholder or two who lives in the SF area (I’d do it, but I live in Chicago) and agree beforehand on useful questions they could ask in your stead. Seems like that would be easier and produce better results than your only obvious alternative — finding a cooperative tech journalists to report on the questions you ask!
    In future, if I go to an AAPL shareholder’s meeting I’l give you a call, and I suggest other RD readers who are shareholders do the same.

  • boghall

    Solution’s trivial: prearrange for someone in the other room to play the role you least enjoy – questioning shareholder or reporter.
    Love to see the comedic attempt. Even if it doesn’t work too well it’s unlikely to do any major damage, since your analyses of Apple’s strategies are consistently among the most insightful that I’ve found. I’m kinda surprised they don’t find an internal role for you to keep you from spilling the beans. Keep it up (and maybe improve the lighting and background in your videos).

  • batfart

    Where’s this sexed up spoof? Your comments made it sounded like it was available for viewing or did I misunderstand?

  • twujr

    Was anyone in attendance that could post the unmentionables here in a response?

  • gus2000

    Congratulations, Daniel…you’ve now become important enough for the media to resent you. :)

    Apple produces disruptive technology, and you produce disruptive analysis. For the win!

  • ianf

    Daniel, much as I emphatise with your plight, we, your readers are not in the position to rectify this sad state of affairs. Since, as you say, you were able to ask questions AND received valid answers (from two “unnamed members of the Apple board”), I have to assume one of the questions was whether the board was behind the conditions forced SOLELY ON YOU at that meating. If so, what are you now, a shareholding chattel? Else, if you did not pop that question, why didn’t you?

    Secondly, with the damage done, you really need to escalate the matter in the court of public opinion – e.g. by publishing the copy of the waiver Apple security had you sign [I assume you to have a copy of it], and addressing the same question to Steve Jobs himself. Even if it isn’t resolved right away, it won’t die in the press.

    [For guidance while you wait get hold of the original English version of the 6hr-miniseries “State of Play” (not the bowdlerized American movie version), which shows just such a case: a daily newspaper with multicolumn blank placeholders for articles and fat 48p headlines “What we can not print. Ask your MP why.”

  • dougeckhart

    To anyone considering publishing Daniel’s work:
    do it, it’s good stuff. Good enough it moved me to donate money via paypal.

    Part 10 video:
    I dunno, haven’t seen it yet :)
    Setup some kind of survey and have an advisory on the video and do a post-viewer poll. Blame the comedienne, it wasn’t you, it was her, she made you do it.

  • http://allasloss.com Nick R

    Comedy is good, but I would say to stay away from the route you are talking about. If it caused you to use caution prior to posting, it’s probably not the best idea.

  • bartfat

    Actually talking monologues are okay Daniel. I just want to see that Mac skit, because that sounds really cool. But anyway, keep it up, your site and reporting is awesome.

  • WebManWalking

    In the absence of details, I can only make some general observations, but here goes:

    The Constitution constrains the power of government, not the power of the people. What constrains the people are the laws enacted by the government. Fortunately, Congress has passed laws making it illegal to use coercion to deny someone their civil rights. Enforcing a contract (if it was entered into with informed consent) is not coercion. It’s just holding someone to what they agreed to. And federal law trumps state law (Article VI).

    With that overview, please analyze the nature of the suppression of your free speech and whether or not someone needs to be put in prison for it.

  • JacktheMac

    Hi Dan

    No porn or skits please, it would just be embarrassing.

    What you do best is analyse and write. Stick to that.

    Why not apply your talents to a full-length book recounting the development and history of the Mac ? Far more fulfilling (and financially rewarding) than ephemeral, jokey videos. As a former editor and publisher, I’m sure you’d have no problems selling or marketing such a book.

  • dustbag

    I find it interesting that Apple should want to suppress Daniel’s reporting on specific questions he asked during this or any other Shareholder meeting. To me this indicates that either Apple is bowing to tech media pundit pressure, or that Steve and Tim don’t want Daniel’s insights made generally known. My guess would be the latter, since Daniel is so often correct when describing Apple’s strategy and motives that is like giving the competition your playbook (if only they would read it, which apparently they are not).

    Good luck Daniel! My email to AppleInsider is already sent. Looking forward to iPad Myth 10 video…

  • http://backaccessward.blogspot.com beetle

    I am a big fan, but in this case I must concure with sapridyne that you are trying to have things both ways. I had forgotten that you played the asshat a couple of years ago too: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-9886333-37.html

  • http://www.muir.tumblr.com John Muir

    @beetle

    I like what the Macalope does, with this signature on all his Macworld posts:

    (Disclosure: the Macalope holds an insignificant number of Apple shares.)

    There is, arguably, a conflict of interest in reporting on a company you invest in. The old media certainly wouldn’t like it. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Krazit took a toasting from the comments on that post.

  • ianf

    @#25: Tom Krazit of CNET is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill because of Dilger not previously explicitly disclosing owning Apple shares. Because, see, had he not, only then could he be considered “impartial.” Or something. Don’t ask me, ask Krazit. We live in a world where, because of institutional holdings and cross-investment, shares in basically any mutual fund (or some such) means one is a part-owner of IBM, Microsoft, HP, Dell and probably, yes, Apple. Besides, owning shares, thus gaining the right to question policies of one’s publicly-listed company, is often the last resort of a consumer. So why is that right of Dilger’s –a shareholder, a consumer and a blogger– suddenly made contingent on signing a waiver?

  • ianf

    @John Muir: there is a potential conflict of interest in everyhting we do. Do you ever remember Krazit (or, say, Dvorak) making a disclosure of owning shares of a competitor to some company’s products’ that either may have been slamming in print? Because that wouldn’t be a conflict of interest. No? I though not.

  • http://www.muir.tumblr.com John Muir

    @ianf

    It’d help to read all of my comment. (It wasn’t long.) Daniel made a minor mistake and Krazit was the douche.

  • http://ObamaPacman.com ObamaPacman

    That’s too bad. I am sure plenty of your readers and shareholders would ask your questions for you next time. Perhaps code the questions.

    YES with spoof! Just put NSFW tag in the title and big fat disclaimer in the video.

  • David Stevenson

    I attended the meeting as a shareholder (which I am), not as a journalist (so I didn’t take notes). I thought your first question was stupid (not understanding on a personal level how things really work in Silicon Valley), Tim Cook’s answer was straightforward, and Steve Jobs’ answer was arrogant (no surprise) and delusional (but it showed how his mind works). The second question was thoughtful, Steve’s answer was arrogant but straightforward, and Cook’s response was insightful as to how things work at Apple. So here goes (from my memory):
    First question: since you focus on great ideas, why not license merely good ideas to others to develop, rather than have employees with merely good ideas leave to follow their dream?
    Cook’s response: “We’re not in the business of licensing ideas” (read, that’s not our business model).
    Jobs: They don’t leave, we give them a chance to work on a great idea and they stay.
    My take: of course that’s why most stay, that’s why they came to Apple. But there are a lot of reasons people leave apple (I worked there), and leaving to start their own company is pretty far down on the list, but the history of Silicon Valley is replete with examples (off the top of my head: Fairchild Semiconductor fathered tens/hundreds of companies (including Intel), Intel tens/hundreds (including Zilog), Zilog tens (while I was there, including two, Xylinx and ViewTech, by people for whom I was on a first name basis/worked for, etc).
    Second question: Since you publish life-cycle green impact for your products, why not include comparisons with HP and Dell, who do talk the talk about sustainability?
    Jobs: Because they don’t publish their results: we don’t do our competitors’ jobs. Ask them at their shareholder’s meetings [my note: HP’s shareholder’s meeting is coming up]. We don’t do these things to wave the flag of sustainability, we walk the walk.
    Cook: we do these things, like audit our suppliers( about a hundred factories), because we think it’s the right thing to do. Most of them said we were the first ones to do that.
    PS: Dan, if you need a ride to next year’s shareholder’s meeting, or to HP’s for that matter, contact me.

  • ianf

    John, I did read it all (and I apologize for the typos). I simply deny the concept of “a conflict of interest” where anyone’s rank-and-file share ownership is concerned (perhaps if we’d be talking of owning significant chunks of some company). Also, it’s not as if Dilger is an uncritical shill for Apple… institutional bloggers like Krazit want us to believe we all live in a pure, unadulterated, formal-disclosure-of-childhood-mumps-world, where everything is hunky-dory except for the few rotten blogging/share-owning apples[sic!] that dare to criticize the Krazits of this Phantasy World in print!

  • http://www.muir.tumblr.com John Muir

    @David Stevenson

    Thanks for the info. I didn’t think Daniel asked anything earth-shattering, otherwise it would have wound up widely reported. (The tech media isn’t that broken yet.) Steve’s suggestion sounds like a good idea. Somehow I doubt Daniel has any HP shares though…

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  • ReginaldW

    @David Stevenson

    I guess one had to be there to personally determine whether Steve Jobs was arrogant or not. Body language, voice inflection, loudness and tone can change one’s opinion versus just reading a transcript of the event (which I do not have) or your recollections as described above.

    I don’t see arrogance based upon your comment, more I see someone who HAS to attend the shareholders meeting and having to answer questions that may be banal, inane and ill thought out. There is only so much time that the heads of the company have to answer questions and long winded responses reduces the time for other shareholders to ask questions. As I recall from other reports on this years meeting, Steve Jobs had to interrupt several long-winded people by asking if they actually had a question to ask.

    Either way, Steve Jobs doesn’t suffer fools easily, as has been reported many times. When you are a visionary as he clearly is in guiding Apple from its near collapse a decade ago to where it is today, what some might call arrogance, others might call confidence.

  • http://www.jazzmic.com jazzmic

    Hello Daniel, it’s a pitty you can’t post your questions, I read this site because of your point of view and the way you explain things.

    That goes for Myth 10 as well. I don’t consider your videos boring at all. I think that there are too many cuts and paste, but what you say is what matters to me the most, so please don’t change anything unless is to add more information. The style of your videos has been improving greatly with each iteration and will continue the more you do it.

    Anyways, don’t get depressed, there are too many things to be happy about, even if sometimes life simply sucks.

  • mikeg

    I commend your integrity in sticking to your word not to report on the questions you asked. I am sure that is difficult to bear. FYI, I did fire off an email to AppleInsider this morning expressing support for the high-caliber articles we have come to “expect” from you. No response, although I guess I probably shouldn’t expect any.

  • bazz4

    YES you need to be more Buster Keaton she less hammy then you can start a TV show. Less is more!

    Hay comedy is the best way to educate the masses – monty python* sex education skit notwithstanding – Apple in its Eden allowed programmers license to add humor to the OS.
    * Clease started a Business education Video Company on that premise.

    But you have still not said why you have no license to drive cars!

  • bazz4

    Simple—
    Get Dan Butterfield of iPhonAsia.com to do your questions on your blog from his blog!

  • http://macsmarticles.blogspot.com Derek Currie

    Of course the extraordinary irony here is that this past month corporations and similar organizations were given extraordinary rights to freedom of speech by the Neo-Con-Job dominated US Supreme Court. And here is Dan inside one of those extraordinarily privileged corporations being gagged with an extraordinary lack of freedom of speech. Conclusion: Corporations are indeed extraordinary citizens of the oligarchy. (o_0)

    Just gotta laugh in the madness and push sanity back at it all.

  • nelsonart

    Sounds like Apple is stifling shareholders who are also bloggers. Not good. Glad you kept your promise. You need the karma to help survive future accidents.

    I find your articles interesting as they usually offer up new angles and insights. The level of detail often astonishes me and I think Apple probably has read a few articles and felt the same? Perhaps that’s why they put the screws to you.

    For what it’s worth… the only site I’ve had a comment deleted is this one. There’s that karma thing again. Apple was merely resetting the balance.

    On the videos: They are not as good as your writing. Work on exercising that hand. It’s like your brain runs on Flash and stutters whereas your hand runs on H.264. Plus you can’t do aural graphs and charts.

    The last video was funny. Mostly your deadpan expression while she indulged herself. I don’t think it went too far at all. By the time it was finished, I was an expert in desktop mouse-driven interfaces vs. the touch/gesture paradigm.

  • gus2000

    NSFW = Not Safe For Wintards

    Apple did not “repress” Daniel, they gave him a choice: be a shareholder in the auditorium, or be a reporter from the viewing gallery. He chose the former, and is continues to honor his word.

    I understand Apple’s position. The shareholders’s meeting is, after all, for the shareholders. It’s not a press conference, but it would turn into one if the full-time press could participate by owning a trivial amount of shares. Apple drew a line and asked Dan to pick a side.

    To be fair, they only drew a line because the regular tech press was crying foul (and by that, I mean they were crying like little girls, and it was foul). The profession “blogger” is still not considered “journalism”, depending on whom you ask and the time of day.

  • http://aaroneiche.com Sircastor

    First, let me say that I started to watch the Myth 10 sketch, and I just didn’t think it was going to be worth it. I got in far enough to know it wasn’t something I wanted to watch. Comedy plays different ways, but the best comedy plays above the lowest forms. I believe you’re smart enough to come up with something really funny, rather than lewd. You gain more by making the video accessible to a larger audience…

    As for the Stockholder meeting affair, I think you’re exploring an area that not many people have come across before. It’s a shame that Apple asked you to make a decision, but I greatly appreciate your keeping your word when it came to not writing about it. Some have criticized your integrity because you both blog and attend the shareholder meeting. I think you’ve shown your integrity is in tact. Apple’s stance is an understandable one I think. Keeping the press out of the meeting helps to maintain order and access for shareholders. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to report on this though. My biggest concern is Apple playing favorites with the press. The press doesn’t like you, they whine to Apple, and Apple thinks “This could blow up in our faces.” Apple likes being the darling of the tech media, and I’m disappointed that they made this request of you.