How Newsweek’s Most Notorious Fellow Got Caught Conning Silicon Alley

The fun came to an end in December of 2010, when Newsweek merged with The Daily Beast. Mr. Zakaria had left by then for a position at Time. Mr. Guo’s internship had already gone well past its allotted time, and the incoming management decided not to renew him.

A few weeks later, the complaints started to arrive. One came from the Tourism Board of Thailand, which wanted to know why they had paid for Mr. Guo and a photograher to fly to Thailand and stay at deluxe hotels. Others involved an expensive watch and a some Gore-tex gloves Mr. Guo had requested. About ten or twelve letters arrived at Newsweek’s legal department.

“After his internship ended, Newsweek International received a number of complaints about Jerry Guo, all of which were dealt with accordingly,” said  Andrew Kirk, director of Public Relations at Newsweek & The Daily Beast.

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Mr. Guo, meanwhile, had moved on to the world of tech startups. As he navigated the new scene, he continued to employ many of the tactics that had worked so well for him in the world of print media.

When Jerry Guo is nervous, he flushes red and hides his eyes behind his bangs. In a small office at Betabeat’s building on West 44th Street, when we asked him about what happened with Ignighter, he looked at the floor and scratched his scarlet neck.

“I think the story here is, like, what happened to journalism,” said Mr. Guo, who had grown accustomed to exchanging coverage for access and gifts. “Coming from that world, I thought essentially, Adam wouldn’t have time to talk to us and that this was a great way to get a meeting: ‘Hey I’m a writer so in return for this meeting I’ll write about your startup.’”

Mr Guo has since apologized to Mr. Sachs, who said he doesn’t see the two companies as competitors. Mr. Guo is now eager to put the lessons he learned as a news hack behind him, and focus on growing his company. “Some stats: 93% want to go on another Grouper, we’ve arranged 1,000+ drinks this summer, and we’re already profitable,” he wrote to The Observer in a chipper email a few days after our meeting. He recently went to a secret rave in New York with a friend he met through a Grouper. And at the first New York Meetup for the prestigious startup program Y-Combinator, Mr. Guo, as he always does, made an impression.

“I really like companies doing things with online to offline,” said Justin Kan, founder of and a new partner at Y-Combinator, speaking on stage before 800 hopeful young startup founders. “I met this startup tonight that arranges people into group dates. It’s called like, Grouper or something. That seemed very cool.” In the audience, Mr. Guo beamed from ear to ear.

How Newsweek’s Most Notorious Fellow Got Caught Conning Silicon Alley