For the past two weeks the tech world has been buzzing with the news of Michael Arrington’s ouster from TechCrunch, the company he founded.
Update: The first TechCrunch writer to quit after AOL firing Mike Arringtin is Paul Caar. Read his resignation letter on the site.
Last year, Arrington announced he was selling his beloved company to media giant AOL, but that he would continue to stay on as the company’s editorial director. This week, that arrangement came crashing down; Arrington was told he was out, and many wondered if Techcrunch — a site that obsessively covers the happenings in Silicon Valley — would still be around not only for the upcoming Disrupt conference but reporting on startup news in the same manner without Mike around.
So, how did it all go wrong?
Apparently, AOL head honcho and editorial director Arianna Huffington wasn’t pleased with Arrington’s recent announcement that he would be starting a venture capital fund (which is backed by AOL) to invest in some of the same technology startups that TechCrunch would cover. Huffington—who took over AOL after a merger with her popular blog, The Huffington Post—felt that Arrington’s involvement in a tech investment firm was an unethical conflict of interest.
After announcing that Arrington would no longer have an influential editorial role with TechCrunch, but could continue to contribute to the site as an unpaid blogger, Arrington fired back asking AOL to sell him the company back. That was a nonstarter, and an interesting tête-à-tête, Arrington was out and the TechCrunch staff were threatening a strike. Mike also appeared on stage for the opening remarks of the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this past week with a shirt that said, "unpaid blogger".
In the meantime, Arrington has announced via a twitter message he will be starting his own personal blog.
Although it’s too early to tell what will happen to TechCrunch, many are worried that Arrington’s departure marks the end of an era. Without his guidance, distinct viewpoint and voice, many question if the company he built can move on without him.
I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.
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