No Free Passes

 | Sep 20, 2012 | 2:26 PM EDT
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Was I truly a jerk when I grilled the CEO of Trulia (TRLA) this morning? Was I wrong to ask Pete Flint when his company would make money? Or how it is going to compete against the bigger and, some would say, better Zillow (Z)? Or that I caveated that people should think twice about buying a company with no earnings?

I don't think so.

A fellow by the name of Mark Haines put me on air on CNBC. At that point Mark, who passed away suddenly last year, was in his heyday, warning people about buying dot-coms on the way up because he said it would all end badly.

He was tough, much tougher than I was this morning. He always said, "Jim, no free passes." Don't give executives a platform to just repeat what's terrific about their enterprises over and over. Ask them about profits. Ask them about what they will do with the money, as my colleague David Faber did today. Put some fear into those at home who might otherwise lose money if they don't know what they are doing with this online real estate aid.

I am proud to follow in the tradition of Haines. That's why I could not give the Trulia CEO a pass on his big day.

I wasn't truly a jerk with Trulia. I just didn't issue a free pass. Thanks, Mark, for teaching me how to do my job. It's our duty to be skeptical. No regrets, even as it's a lot tougher than just saying "congratulations on a successful IPO."

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