Vauhini Vara, who covers Facebook for the Wall Street Journal, is leaving the newspaper to go back to school. Why not write up a friend on the way out the door? In a profile of Harvard graduates inspired by — or jealous of — Mark Zuckerberg's startup success, she includes Sam Lessin, cofounder of Drop.io. A file-sharing startup which has raised only $3.9 million wouldn't normally rate a mention in the Journal, one would think. But Lessin is also the boyfriend of Jessica Vascellaro, the Journal reporter who's moving to Silicon Valley to cover Yahoo and Google.
Lucky Lessin. He's also the son of Bob Lessin, a former vice chairman of Smith Barney and Jefferies & Co. turned angel investor. Both are Harvard graduates, and the Lessins have given generously to Harvard.
There's absolutely no reason to believe Vascellaro influenced Vara to write about Lessin. Indeed, there's no reason for higher-ups at the Journal to look askance at the relationship, and shame on them if they do. But it's hard to imagine Lessin came to Vara's attention otherwise. Vascellaro, too, is a Harvard graduate. And gaining connections in influential places is what going to a school like Harvard is all about. Vara's article didn't mention that.