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.