Bloomberg on Zipcar IPO: Just take our word for it

Did Zipcar chief executive Scott Griffith accidentally announce that the car-sharing service is planning an initial public offering for 2010? Or is Bloomberg guilty of a “gross misinterpretation”? A day after a dispute broke out over Bloomberg’s story reporting Zipcar’s supposed IPO plans, it remains a case of one side’s words against the other’s, and neither company is doing much to clarify things.

To recap: Bloomberg ran a story saying Zipcar was planning an IPO, but a Zipcar spokeswoman told The Deal the story was a “gross misinterpretation” of the reporter’s interview with Griffith. Bloomberg fired back, telling Clusterstock that it has Griffith on tape confirming the IPO plans. Yesterday evening, I asked both Bloomberg and Zipcar for more details. In particular, I was hoping to hear a recording or see a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview, because everything published so far includes more paraphrasing than direct quotation. Take Bloomberg’s defense in Clusterstock: “We have the Zipcar CEO ON TAPE saying that an IPO is absolutely ‘the right outcome for us.’ When asked when, he said ‘2010.’” There’s definitely room for interpretation there; there’s a big difference between, say, “We’d like to do an IPO eventually, and the absolute earliest we could even consider it would be 2010,” and “We’re planning an IPO in 2010.” That’s why the exact wording is important.

But here’s how a Bloomberg spokeswoman responded to my request this morning:

No, we wouldn’t release tape or transcript as the CEO was interviewed for a print story and it would be unfair to release to third party media. But I can confirm that this was said, as was the timing of next year, during the interview.

Now, I don’t know the details of how the interview was arranged, but this response confused me — if this was an on-the-record interview, why not release the transcript? Especially when the basic premise of your story is being questioned. Instead, we’re left with Bloomberg and Zipcar still pointing fingers at each other.

Meanwhile, Zipcar has yet to respond to my request for comment.

[image via Custom Floor Mats]

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