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Statement of Ethics


We take ethics and transparency very seriously here at Penn Olson, and we strive to provide you with coverage that is fair, accurate, and transparent. To accomplish that, we operate our site based on the principles we’ve shared with you below.

We also welcome questions, comments, and concerns about our coverage, and we invite you to contact us with any issues you might have.

We require writers to disclose any potential conflicts of interest, both to our editorial staff and to you, the readers, in the text of any article with a potential conflict. #

Our writers and editors do not own and may not purchase stock in any company that we cover or might potentially cover. Some of us have worked for tech companies prior to moving to full-time blogging with PO, and we’ll disclose that too on the rare occasion someone ends up writing a story about their old employer. #

We may, from time to time, accept guest posts written by people in the tech industry because we believe this insider’s view has value for our readers. But we also make sure our guest posts are clearly labeled as such, and that our guest writers are clear about who they are and where they work so that readers are aware of any potential conflict. #

Penn Olson received seed investment from East Ventures (EV) in 2011 but we made it very clear to our investors and board of directors that the editorial team will maintain full editorial control of the blog’s content. EV’s portfolio companies will occasionally get coverage from us, not because we’ve been ordered to cover them (we haven’t), but because we find the story interesting. Our sole criteria when choosing stories is generally whether or not we think our readers will find it valuable, and for this reason, we have passed on stories pitched by EV’s portfolio of startups when they fail to meet this criteria (just like we pass on any story that fails to meet this criteria). If we do write on any EV portfolio company, we will disclose our own connection to EV in the article text so that readers are aware. #


Like most websites, Penn Olson may occasionally run advertisements from companies in Asia’s tech sphere, or accept financial sponsorship for an event. But we make a clear distinction between our editorial content and any advertisements or sponsorship that we might accept. Our content remains independent, and will not be influenced or swayed by advertisers or sponsors. Our editorial team is wholly independent and is not involved with the sale of advertisements. # Advertisements appear in designated spots on the site, but never in our content. We do not sell text advertisements, mentions, in-article image advertisements, or any other form of advertisement that might influence the quality of our content. #

Editorial Process

Every story published on Penn Olson goes through one of our three editors – usually more than just one. These editors have complete editorial control over the content of the blog, and they are totally segregated from the business team. They are not in contact with advertisers or event sponsors or involved with the financial affairs of the blog. #

As editors, we’re fans of journalism done right, and are big believers that transparency is the new objectivity. If we have a strong viewpoint on a topic, or some connection to it, we’ll let you know about it. We do not aspire to a mythical ‘view-from-nowhere’ objectivity, but instead we will try to tell you where we are coming from with appropriate transparency (see above link) and present the story as we see it. We hope that you, the reader, will appreciate our efforts to be honest about where we’re coming from. #

We strive for speed, accuracy, and insight in our coverage, but like any publication, we fall short from time to time. Wherever we discover them, we correct errors immediately and mark major corrections transparently with an ‘update’ label, and we encourage readers to let us know when we’ve made an error [1]. #


All of our stories are clearly sourced. We get stories from all over the place. Sometimes we find them ourselves, sometimes we obtain information from blogs in Asian languages, and sometimes they’re suggested by our contributors or our readers. But wherever a story comes from, we’ll make sure it’s clearly marked and, where applicable, linked. The editorial team rejects stories without sources, period. #

On some occasions, we may quote or use information from anonymous sources. We will fiercely protect the identities of our sources, but we’ll also be sure readers know as much as we can safely reveal about why we’re using an anonymous source in the first place. #


While we don’t shy away from being critical, we do attempt to be fair in our coverage. To that end, we try to get in touch with companies we’re writing big stories about to give them a chance to comment. If you feel you or your company has been treated unfairly in our coverage, please get in touch with us immediately. #

We also make sure to differentiate between opinion pieces and news pieces. Personal opinions in our posts will be clearly labeled as such (i.e. “I think…”) and will not be presented as though they are fact or news. #

Regarding Events

We will occasionally hold “Startups in Asia” conferences. All speakers are selected because our team believes they can provide valuable content to our audience. Content on stage has no relationship with sponsorships. We make it extremely clear to every sponsor that they will not be able to influence the onstage content of the event. #

Startups participating in Startup Arena, our startup pitching competition, are all selected based on the uniqueness of their idea and then an Skype or face-to-face interview with one or two of our team members. Startup Arena’s winners are picked by independent judges. The Penn Olson team has no impact on the choice of winners, and neither do event sponsors. #

Regarding the monetization of our blog and events, a specific Walt Disney quote is useful to reference here:

We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.

Likewise, we hope that we can do well enough to keep bringing you news about Asia for years to come.

  1. You can see one example of how we do that here.  ↩