Michael Arrington: Ex-TechCrunch, and now ex-AOL employee, too
After two weeks of drama, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, Michael Arrington, is now officially out at the popular tech blog, and he's no longer an AOL employee.
AOL formally announced his departure on Monday in an emailed statement. Arrington too announced his exit from TechCrunch and AOL at the company's TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Monday, wearing a green T-shirt that read "unpaid blogger." The T-shirt was a jab at AOL, which after announcing he was fired from his job as TechCrunch's co-editor said he might contribute as an unpaid writer from time to time.
"The TechCrunch acquisition has been a success for AOL and for our shareholders, and we are very excited about its future," said Maureen Sullivan, an AOL spokeswoman, in an email to The Times. "Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, has decided to move on from TechCrunch and AOL to his newly formed venture fund. Michael is a world-class entrepreneur and we look forward to supporting his new endeavor through our investment in his venture fund. Erick Schonfeld has been named the editor of TechCrunch. TechCrunch will be expanding its editorial leadership in the coming months."
Schonfeld was Arrington's co-editor. Arrington explained the departure a little bit differently at TechCrunch Disrupt.
"It's no longer a good situation for me to stay at TechCrunch," Arrington said at the conference, according to a report from the website Business Insider. "Effective in a couple of days, I won't be an employee of TechCrunch or AOL. I will continue to run the CrunchFund and AOL will remain a partner in CrunchFund. I will continue to support this conference and TechCrunch over time."
Arrington's new venture fund is, of course, CrunchFund, the $20-million venture fund that is backed by many of Silicon Valley's most influential investors. AOL is CrunchFund's biggest investor.
It was the formation of the CrunchFund that kicked off the aforementioned drama that has led to Arrington's exit.
On Sept. 1, Arrington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong excitedly announced that CrunchFund was a go and would invest in rising start-ups. CrunchFund, and Arrington's involvement in it, raised the ire of many on the blogosphere and mainstream media, citing possible ethical concerns over Arrington being a venture capitalist who could invest in some of the companies that TechCrunch itself covers.
On Sept. 2, AOL announced that Arrington was no longer a TechCrunch employee, but would still work for AOL in some capacity and occasionally blog for TechCrunch unpaid.
TechCrunch reporters were unhappy with how the matter -- which put a spotlight on TechCrunch's own ethical standards -- unfolded in the press, and they blogged about their frustration on TechCrunch itself, with an eye of anger toward AOL CEO Armstrong, who said the site had different editoral practices than other AOL publications.
After word leaked that Arrington was out at TechCrunch, Arrington issued an ultimatum to AOL stating that he would leave if the company didn't sell the blog back to him or let him keep his job as co-editor.
With Arrington out, questions now remain over how that will or won't affect TechCrunch's roster of reporters, some of whom have stated they'd leave if Arrington leaves.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Michael Arrington in 2008. Credit: Randi Lynn Beach / For The Times