A word about Dennis Howlett

A word about Dennis Howlett

Summary: A ZDNet blogger has been accused by a publication of wrongdoing. Here's the facts as we know them.


As many enterprise insiders have seen, ZDNet blogger Dennis Howlett has been the subject of an article accusing him of pay for play blogging and bribery.

The account, which I knew was coming, is based on anonymous sourcing and folks that have obviously had run-ins with Dennis. Mr. Howlett has a few enemies. The sources are relatively obvious to those with background to Howlett's run-ins with UK accounting software vendors.

The story revolves around Dennis' AccMan site and his sway in accounting software circles. However, Dennis' also writes for ZDNet so I feel the need to address the issue. Dennis has chosen not to respond publicly to the article at the moment as he weighs his options. That's his right.

But as keeper of our brand, I want to lay out the facts as I know them:

  • Dennis said that he has never pulled a play for pay stunt. 
  • He has refused requests to position paid for articles on AccMan.
  • Dennis said he has never pressured anyone nor offered any form of inducement for money or other assets. 
  • Xero didn't pay an appearance fee for a speaking gig he did last week. Xero did cover a hotel bill. 
  • Howlett's long-time partner does own shares of FreeAgent. That fact has been public for years. The shares were transferred during an initial vendor fracas detailed in the magazine story.

Each writer on ZDNet has a disclosure attached to their author pages. These disclosures are necessary when you have writers who a) have businesses of their own, b) aren't traditional journalists, and c) may have conflicts.

Here is the Howlett disclosure:

Dennis Howlett is committed to maintaining the independent and opinionated stance that his writings are well known for and does not enter into contracts that would limit his freedom of expression in any way. However it is important in the interests of full disclosure to inform readers of those relationships so they can form their own judgment. This page therefore lists all Dennis Howlett's current business relationships.

Dennis's consulting arrangements occasionally bring him into direct or indirect business relationships with some of the companies about which he writes, and/or their competitors. Where such a relationship exists, it is disclosed at the end of any article that references the company concerned.

Dennis owns AccMan, an independently produced blog covering the professional services market, primarily focused on Europe. It is currently sponsored by selected TextLink Ads and named sponsors in the 'Sponsored Content' block.

Dennis maintains relationships with a range of end user organizations and in all cases is subject to non-disclosure agreement. He has no current 'paid for' relationships with ITC vendors except as disclosed above although certain vendors comp travel and expenses claims. For the benefit of doubt, T&E reimbursement is a common practice among European based writers. It is often the only way we can attend important events. Even so it doesn't impact our analysis of what vendors have to say. If you believe otherwise then feel free to ignore what is written here.

Topic: Legal

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  • Thanks, Larry

    I was not aware of the issue and I have no reason to believe the allegations are true; but it's better for ZDNet readers to hear about stuff like that from you first than from third parties. Keep us posted.
    John L. Ries
  • It does not sound to be on the up and up

    Unnamed sources, small unnammed startups, et cetera.

    If their is one thing that politics (and some users here) has taught us is that if others point out actual flaws in a person or product, it is easier to blame it all "paid shilling" then accepting the issues that exist, and correcting them.
    John Zern
  • Explains it all

    At lest this explains why Dennis has shown such bias and preference for over 10 years that I've been following ZDNet

    He has never been genuine or open and has never shown real interest in having a balanced view

    The truth and good will come out at last
  • Well

    kernelmag.com website name sounds like "national inquirer". Whoever considers national inquirer as a reliable source of information about anything will consider kernelmag.com.
    Ram U
  • and probably Milo Yiannopoulos (kernelmag.com)

    got paid by KashFlow to taint on Dennis Howlett. They cleverly omitted that part and if they are reliable, they should publish that piece of information about their relationship between KashFlow and kernelmag.com.
    Ram U
    • wrong

      KashFlow hasn't/haven't paid Kernel Mag or Milo anything.
      First I (as CEO of KashFlow) knew of this story was when it was already written and I was approached for a comment in addition to what had been quoted from my 2009 blog post.
      • Well I am not saying

        that you paid him/her to write that about, all I am saying is that blog has open doors for thinking into that you had have a relationship with that Kernel Mag. That blog is totally open for suspicion. I think it would be nice for you to post there this message and clarify Kernel Mag's audience before it creates more fuss.
        Ram U
  • Larry while you are at it

    please bring back the edit functionality in Talkbacks. Missing edit functionality here is making us to post multiple times to expand or enhance our posts.
    Ram U
  • Not very well informed

    every now and then I read Dennis's blog postings and while I cannot conclusively say if he has a bias or not towards certain companies, I can see from his blog posts that he has a pretty narrow view of enterprise technology and in many cases does not seem to do a good journalistic job by finding the veracity of vendor marketing and messaging. Parroting marketing and messaging of vendors provides no real value to readers and is likely a waste of valuable blog real estate on Zdnet.

    He seems to spend excessive time on a couple of companies on this blog that indicates his bias towards companies with which he may have a congenial relationship or worse a commercial relationship. To be able to cover enterprise technology effectively a blogger/journalist these days needs a good understanding of a number of subjects (cloud, big data/small data, mobile, commerce, supply chain, programming languages, platforms, etc..) in some detail and should be able to cover a wide swath of companies, including Google, Amazon, IBM, Oracle, HP and of course Apple. So may be it is time for a real technology expert to author this blog, not just someone that has an accounting slant.
    • You're obviously fairly new here

      ..hate to break it to ya, but you've just described ZDNet's modus operandi as long as i've been subscribed (5 years).

      I think that for your own peace of mind and sanity, you're best served by arriving in the ZDNet blogosphere with a whole lot of skepticism and more than a few grains of salt ready when reading any blog on the website.

      Every now 'n then there's a good writeup ... but mostly it's material like the one composed by Howlett that's clearly landed him in hot water. When the bill of fair / currency by most the staffers at ZDNet is sensationalism, unashamed biased trash and click-bait waffling, you've got to check all notions of acceptance and paying heed to the "news" on the site at the door.

      That's really the best advice i can give you as far as trying to survive an average visitor's day to ZDNet.com.

      You take care now.
  • For the record...

    As one of the companies on the receiving end of Dennis' attacks, we thought now would be a good time to go on the record on the matter. Have a read on our blog -

    • Thanks for clarifying what's old hat here

      Honestly, a great and objective (..considering the circumstances) post. You have my complete sympathy in this whole sorry and sordid affair relating to Howlett. I congratulate you on your restraint given the potential damage defamatory remarks, online, can cause - especially from a tech' site that doesn't seem to know the meaning of the terms 'editing' and 'vetting'.

      It really doesn't come as any surprise to me, as most the material here is obviously paid for propaganda and parroting of paid clientele, company dogma(s).

      As you rightly point out in your linked to post, that's not the biggest issue: the big issue is having a hidden agenda / ulterior motives and having a writer hiding behind the lamest disguise of an "independent tech' journo". Howlett and most the writers here clearly fall into that category based on some vendor-based branch of the industry or another.

      Some writers here declare conflicts of interest - and some don't, as your company obviously found out. The overall effect is undeniable: a dubious site with little to no credibility. I appreciate the entertainment value of most the writeups - but am appalled (but not surprised) at the sheer level of shameless, shill-type drivel the writers on ZDNet put out. (..It's why i keep a large bag of popcorn and M&M's near by [sic]).

      Again, you have my sympathy for the way in which your company has been lambasted by the guy.