Milo Yiannopoulos and the Kernel

I don’t know a great deal about online magazine The Kernel, apart from that they did a truly dismal hatchet job on Laurie Penny, and that the magazine is currently involved in complex industrial disputes with former employees claiming to be owed thousands for unpaid work. Then, a good source asked if I would consider publishing the following piece. I found the article compelling, and credible, so have shared it below. I cannot name either the author of the article or the person who recommended it to me. Apparently Mr Yiannopoulous is a man you don’t want to cross. But unpaid labour is a red light for me.

The other day, Guido scored a memorable scoop in exposing leading left-wing blogs who were relying on the labour of unpaid interns. The principle that the labourer is worthy of his hire is a good one, which all people of good will should be happy to endorse. The use of unpaid labour in our media, however, is not a problem confined to Left Foot Forward or Political Scrapbook. There are other stories to be told of struggling hacks or young interns being ripped off by unscrupulous media entrepreneurs.

Meet Milo ‘Nero’ Yiannopoulous, who has been making something of a name for himself as a right-wing shock jock and proprietor of The Kernel, a site which purports to be at the cutting edge of tech journalism. Well, the tech start-up scene is full of guys with websites trying to convince gullible investors that their product will be the next Facebook, so it should come as little surprise that tech journalism should have the occasional wide boy.

One interesting thing about Mr Yiannopoulos is that he hasn’t always been Mr Yiannopoulos. He used, not so very long ago, to trade as Milo Andreas Wagner, under which label he published EJ Thribb-style juvenile poetry  and acted as speechwriter to Bianca Jagger, amongst other accomplishments. He has also been known as Milo Hanrahan. There is of course nothing intrinsically wrong with changing one’s name, but for a young man of 28 to have already been through three surnames is a little extravagant. We are unable to confirm rumours that Yiannopoulos will soon be changing his name to Milo Minderbinder.

The same theme of excess runs right through Yiannopoulos’ public life. Again, there is no shame in dropping out of university, but it is remarkable that someone of such tender years should have attended both Manchester and Cambridge without graduating from either. And that’s without going into the multiple companies – Counterknowledge Ltd (dissolved 2 November 2010), Wrong Agency Ltd (dissolved 17 May 2011), Hipster Ventures Ltd (filed for dissolution 26 July 2012)… a whole string of companies with obscure purposes that come to life, then dissolve before actually filing any accounts.

The most interesting of the above is Wrong Agency, which was engaged by the Daily Telegraph to run an ill-fated project called Start-Up 100, aimed at profiling young technology companies. Not only did the project end in acrimony over the eventual winner – more to the point, the April 2011 awards ceremony proved to be an enormous money pit after only three of the promised sponsors materialised. The loss to the Telegraph was substantial – believed to be in excess of £70,000 – and the whole episode led to Yiannopoulos being shown the door in a quite literal sense.

Still, you can’t keep a good man down, and Yiannopoulos has bounced back with The Kernel, a site owned by Sentinel Media Ltd, a company of which Yiannopoulos is founder and sole director. Having had a patchy career in media, more than once parting company with an employer on acrimonious terms, Yiannopoulos has now found a job that he can’t be sacked from. Meanwhile, he has built up his profile as someone who roams social media looking for fights.

Despite launching a self-regarding ‘Trollwatch‘ feature aimed at making the internet safe for, um, Milo Yiannopoulos, our friend has rather a way with vituperation. In fact, the man behind ‘Trollwatch’ is far from shy about voicing strong opinions on individuals, or entire social groups, who fail to please him. He doesn’t like lesbians very much, it seems. Then we might take his view on Jews. Since Yiannopoulos has been keen to do business in Israel’s profitable tech scene, where his reputation hasn’t preceded him, this throwback to his Milo Wagner days could be more than a little embarrassing.

The same style carries over to The Kernel, which for a tech magazine devotes remarkably little time to how tech is impacting on society, and rather a lot of time to monstering various people who have crossed Yiannopoulos. One need only mention the unfortunate Luke Bozier, formerly a good friend of Yiannopoulos who wrote numerous articles for The Kernel, including giving Yiannopoulos the exclusive on his defection from Labour to the Tories. More recently, as readers will be aware, Yiannopoulos took apart his former friend’s private life with what can only be described as salacious glee. And this is only what is openly published on The Kernel. Once you factor in The Nutshell, Yiannopoulos’ legally incautious private email circular, it’s not hard to see why people are scared of criticising Yiannopoulos openly. If you cross him, he will come after you.

Which brings us back to where we began. It should not surprise readers by now that Yiannopoulos has not stayed out of trouble since going into business for himself. In fact, The Kernel has gained notoriety for its chronic inability to pay contributors, some of whom are owed several thousand pounds apiece. Does Yiannopoulos show any contrition? You bet he doesn’t. Below are excerpts from emails that have been widely circulated in tech and media circles, in which Yiannopoulos replies to a former contributor seeking payment:

On Friday, 14 December 2012, Milo Yiannopoulos <yiannopoulos@kernelmag.com> wrote:

You’ve already made yourself permanently unemployable in London with your hysterical, brainless tweeting, by behaving like a common prostitute and after starting a war with me, as perhaps you are now discovering.

On 17 Dec 2012, at 12:39, Milo Yiannopoulos <yiannopoulos@kernelmag.com> wrote:

You’ve not only torpedoed your chances of ever having a career in journalism in London, but you’re rapidly losing my sympathy as well.

The more I hear of your feverish gossiping, the more I’m moved to publish the real story. The shameless, disgusting, drunken sluttishness, about which the entirety of ____ was sniggering on a daily basis. Your reputation on the start-up scene, propagated by your ‘friends’. That *delightful* photograph from the ___ party.

The final sentence there certainly carries an implied threat, and shows Yiannopoulos in full vituperative mode. These extracts are indicative of the sort of emails anyone who Yiannopoulos takes a dislike to can expect to receive.

So there you have a portrait of the ‘pit bull‘ of tech media. If we are going to be naming and shaming media outlets that don’t pay their workers, as Guido rightly suggests, or indeed taking a stand against online bullying, the charming Mr Yiannopoulos seems a good place to start.

Update, by MD: Peter has picked up on this, and adds more detail on Milo’s florid bigotry.

Also: word is that Jason Hesse, former Kernel contributor, has just been awarded £16,000 by an employment tribunal against Sentinel. This debt is apparently for unpaid wages and is legally enforceable.

Another update: Luke Bozier has responded.

Endgame: The Kernel is to close. Milo’s final editor’s blog is here. Also see this earlier piece of Friday March 1 by Charles Arthur, which excerpts the email Yiannopoulos sent to former Kernel staffer Margot Huysman, after she chased him for back wages:

Two other former writers, Margot Huysman and Mic Wright, say they are still waiting for a balance of about £4,000 each to be paid. Yiannopoulos paid each of them about £1,000 at the end of October and, they say, promised further payments each month – but those were not forthcoming. When Huysman complained of the non-payment on Twitter, he sent her emails saying ‘You’ve already made yourself permanently unemployable in London with your hysterical, brainless tweeting, by behaving like a common prostitute and after starting a war with me, as perhaps you are now discovering’ and implying he had a salacious picture of her from a party that he would publish if she persisted in complaining.

Arthur notes that ‘The threat proved baseless; Huysman has since worked at two other major UK publications, including the Sunday Times.’

The Kernel screengrab

(Image: Guardian)

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23 Responses to “Milo Yiannopoulos and the Kernel”

  1. singapore sling Says:

    And he’s also a devout Catholic, let’s not forget that.

    • Jim F Says:

      Is he really Catholic? He never was before. I think it was one of his shape-shifting things to go with writing for the Catholic Herald, from which I hear he’s been dropped.

      • Jeremy Poynton Says:

        Narcissisist DO shape shift. They are they need to be according to what situation they are in; similarly, what they say will be tailored to either gain the maximum out of a situation &/0 cause the maximum pain). Often what is said will contradict something said at another time. This, the Narcissist will completely deny – but it can leave you struggling for breath until you know what it going on. In effect, they can keep you permanently off-balance, and hence not really aware of how you are being fucked over.

  2. John Says:

    I don’t know you Max but sadly I do know Milo. This post is just the highlights of a very nasty person. At best Milo is a harmless gay lonely media whore, uncertain how to make a living, pretending to be popular in ‘social media’ jerk circles and at worst is an internet bully of the most vicious kind.

    Some of the threatening emails you printed show just the type of person he is. I am sure your inbox will soon be the recipient of his veiled threats or worse he will ask his other blog media friends (Arrington, Carr, Wauters etc) to start write/tweet posts attacking or discrediting you.

    I know, as a friend of mine has been on the end of his poison pen-manship. I just hope Milo closes the Kernel, changes his name and moves to the US – albeit I think they don’t want him there either.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Yes. There have been threats today, and I think I can expect a poorly researched Kernel hatchet job on myself to appear at some point in the near future.

  3. Jeremy Poynton Says:

    Milo’s got chronic NPD. Having tangled with such before (and they are as nasty a version of the human being that you can find), I recognised him immediately. Two of the things you must NEVER do against a Narcissist is 1) Criticise them (they are perfect) or b) Challenge them (they are perfect).

    In both cases, it is a case light the blue fuse paper and stand back.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder

    Sam Vashnik, that rarest of rare birds, the self-aware Narcissist, is a good read as well. Google will suffice.

    My son has been on the end of his poison penship, and was made utterly distraught. Once he had sussed how Milo behaves, he realised it was nothing personal, and that Milo is a cunt of the first order. End of.

    • John Says:

      Wow just read about NPD. It describes Milo perfectly and explains the behaviour of Paul Carr, Michael Arrington and his other media ‘chums’

      Symptoms of NPD disorder:

      Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
      Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals
      Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents
      Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
      Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
      Becoming jealous easily
      Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others
      Being obsessed with oneself
      Pursuing mainly selfish goals
      Trouble keeping healthy relationships
      Becoming easily hurt and rejected

      In addition to these symptoms, the person may also display dominance, arrogance, show superiority, and seek power.

      Narcissists have such an elevated sense of self-worth that they value themselves as inherently better than others. Yet, they have a fragile self-esteem and cannot handle criticism, and will often try to compensate for this inner fragility by belittling or disparaging others in an attempt to validate their own self-worth. It is this sadistic tendency that is characteristic of narcissism as opposed to other psychological conditions affecting level of self-worth.

      I do hope Milo comes back and reads this. I’m sure he will as he loves people talking about him whether its good or bad.

      If I was one of Milo’s close VC ‘chums’ – Sean Seaton-Rodgers, Fred Destin, Max Niederhofer, Nic Brisbourne – I’d start to put some distance between Milo and yourselves or you might get tarred by association.

      P.S Funny how many of Milo’s ‘chums’ were also the very same ‘judges’ on the Tech100 scam awards he ran. Oh well I am sure he can easily get a wonga loan from Errol if all else fails. As they were the original ‘fix’ winner.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/technology-startup100/8267563/Start-Up-100-meet-the-judges.html

      • Jeremy Poynton Says:

        You got it. It’s worth knowing, as they are often very charismatic people and can insinuate themselves into your life before you have a clue as to what is going on. Worship them and they are fine – but as soon as you question them, bang!

  4. twlldunyrpobsais Says:

    Reblogged this on twlldunyrpobsais.

  5. Milo Yiannopoulos Says:

    For the record, as I’ve said on Twitter, this anonymous posting is riddled with lies and smears. There’s enough truth in it that I think it deserves a reply, though. I’m not sure of the best way to do that. When I decide, I’ll post a link here. Thanks.

    • maxdunbar Says:

      Your right to reply/guest post still open, as you know

    • Jeremy Poynton Says:

      Says Milo, who told me he had reported me to the police, but hadn’t. Milo, aged 28, thinks it is OK to lie. But then, he’s a Narcissist, so everything that issues from his pretty little mouth is, by definition, the truth.

      Hard to be more fucked up than Milo, really. And you never answered my question as to how my son could know you had been domestically abused, given what he saw before him on the screen. But then, Narcissists NEVER answer questions that might put them in a bad light.

      Milo. You’re an epic fail, mate. Get a life, FFS.

  6. Jim F Says:

    Mil announced on Twitter yesterday that he is Jewish as well as Catholic. Next he’ll be rebutting allegations of sexism by telling us he used to be a woman.

  7. Jim F Says:

    Sorry, should have written ‘Milo’. No surprise that he isn’t sure how to reply to your post, Max, as everything in it is true.

  8. Jeremy Poynton Says:

    Titter. Last week Milo was a Roman Catholic (see Wiki).

    Now’s he’s a Jew.

    Sweepstake on what next, anyone?

  9. Open Letter to the Curator of svbtle.com | TechnoMage Says:

    [...] Max Dunbar, blogger, on the evils of unpaid labour & The Kernel [...]

  10. Luke Bozier | In a nutshell: Milo Yiannopoulos falsifies information to create sensationalist stories for his Kernel. Says:

    [...] lack of journalistic principle. As a growing number of people are pointing out (two such examples here and here), Milo will go to any length to hurt people. He hides behind a computer, a Blackberry, a [...]

  11. John Says:

    Rumours are after 15th January Milo’s company Sentinel Media was declared insolvent. I am checking with the London Gazette, Duedil and Companies House and if true I will be glad to report him to the authorities for continuing to trade his bile under the name of The Kernel. I won’t be happy till this liar and bully is declared bankrupt as that cannot be too far off either.

  12. John Says:

    Read the comments on this post. http://pme2013.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-art-of-self-loathing.html?m=1

    Milo (if that is his real name) now owes £16k to one of his ex-journalists from a court decision on 16th Jan 2013, so he could be wound up soon. I guess the other journalists who worked for him will file in court soon. But the comments on this (linked) post are amazing.

    He lied about his D.O.B and location. He stole monies (allegedly) from Bianca Jagger. Claims to be both a Catholic and a Jew and yet he wears the Nazi Iron Cross. Is anti-Semitic, homophobic to both gays and lesbians. Claims a ‘Cambridge University’ education but actually just attended a local college in Cambridge and it goes on and on and on …

    Seriously why are companies like Moo, Moshi Monsters, Huddle and many others what are you think by associating yourself with this pathological liar … R.I.P Milo the London Tech Scene is happier without you. God help the German tech scene as Milo is coming your way but by then he might be Andreas Wagner again!

  13. STATEMENT FROM CONSOL PARTNERS | ConSol Says:

    [...] It seems that this somewhat hysterical attack is not the first of its kind and it is interesting to note the comments of others who have been victims of The Kernel here. [...]

  14. David Ellis Says:

    Wow now Consol Partners – @ConSolPartners – look like they are going to start court proceedings against Milo. Give his long list of lies and threats it won’t be too hard for a judge to award in their favour.

    That then leaves people like bank of the future, startup school and many many others to follow suit. The problem is Milo has no money so I guess first come first served unless Fred Destin – @fdestin, Collette Ballou and Milo’s other rich friends club together to loan him some money.

    Milo in fact take out the Wonga loan now, you know it makes sense and of course you’ll pay it back before the 4,000% interest kicks in at the end of the month.

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