Venture capitalist running for SF mayor will need thicker skin

February 15, 2011, 9:07 PM UTC

Well, it’s official. Former venture capitalist Joanna Rees is running for mayor of San Francisco.

Not sure how, or if, I plan to cover this campaign. As longtime readers know, Rees and I are hardly best of friends. We’ve never actually met in person, but she took heated exception to a series of articles myself and a colleague wrote about the collapse of her VC firm back in 2005 (back when I was working for Reuters/peHUB). More specifically, we thought that most of the blame lay at her feet. She didn’t.

Anyway, I was interested to read this SF Chronicle post about a recent meet-and-greet with Reees — in which she declined to take questions from attending media members. This follows a recent conversation I had with someone who said that Rees has been talking to former colleagues at the National Venture Capital Association about how to get better press coverage (she used to be on the board).

Well, here’s some free advice: Take questions from the press when running for public office, and don’t threaten to sue them if they write something unflattering.

Last March, peHUB ran a blog post titled “Really, Joanna Rees?” It was a point/counterpoint rebuttal to an email that Rees had sent my former colleague Connie Loizos, regarding prior columns that we had written about the VSP collapse.

Rees was not amused, nor enlightened. She contacted my boss (and his boss) – demanding that we pull the post, or else she would sue for slander. After careful consideration, Reuters basically told her to take a flying leap.

Rees never sued, most likely because there was nothing actually slanderous in the post.

It will be very interesting to see how she handles press scrutiny over the next few months. If you think the VC trade press is tough, just wait until the political scribes really begin to pay attention…