AOL issued an official statement saying that Mike Arrington has decided to move on, leaving AOL to run his venture fund with a lot of AOL money. Erick Schonfeld, who has been the number two at TechCrunch for a while, will become the editor in chief.
Mike Arrington has reportedly been fired from AOL, which currently owns TechCrunch, the blog he founded. That was the response to his demand, on TechCrunch, that AOL grant the site complete editorial independence or sell it back to him and the original stakeholders. Things are very much up in the air as to what will happen now that he’s been canned, but on his personal Twitter account, Mr. Arrington is going about business as usual.
“TechCrunch Disrupt update – There will be well over 2,500 people attending next week, shattering our previous attendance record of 2,100,” he wrote this afternoon. Like a proud father unable to handle the custody arrangement in a divorce, Mr. Arrington continues to use the paternal “our” in reference to TC Disrupt.
Nobody wants to go on the record saying negative things about TechCrunch, arguably the most powerful news blog in tech, for obvious reasons.
Entrepreneurs and investors in the startup scene tend to be very cagey when making public statements about anyone else in the same scene, with the rare exceptions of bomb-throwers and those who have succeeded past the point of caring. It’s also never smart to trash-talk the hose that feeds you users.
Sources even refused to go on record with New York Times media bulldog David Carr for fear of “editorial retribution.”
First, everyone’s shaking in their bootstraps in fear of Mr. Arrington; now that he may have been fired, according to Fortune, hands are wringing over what will happen to the blog.
But come on, we thought. People read TechCrunch, but it’s not that influential. Is it?
But TechCrunch, as the de facto trade publication in Silicon Valley, commands a special reverence. Sure, Mr. Arrington has a temper. He’s notorious for taking things personally and holding a grudge–a scary prospect for young entrepreneurs who consider the blog crucial to getting exposure to the right users and validation from the right people. But the devotion stems from the fact that insiders feel that TechCrunch is important. TechCrunch gets it. TechCrunch has prestige.
Mashable, for example, writes about similar topics and has more traffic–but a Mashable hit isn’t as coveted as a TechCrunch hit. Investors don’t read Mashable. Your friends don’t read Mashable. Same goes for the stodgy New York Times, which still refers to tweets as “Twitter messages” and “live Twitter posts.”
NO, YOU AREN’T CRAZY. Twitter asploded with soul-searching tweets as New Yorkers wondered if they’d really felt something. Haha, Warby Parker evacuated; so did Jordan Newman, Google spokesman and a recent transplant from the Googleplex, who felt it on the 15th floor and evacuated himself although people on the fourth floor didn’t notice anything. Gary Vaynerchuck wondered if it was because he had just announced his retirement from making wine videos. There was some alarm when the newsroom saw a tweet that trains were down, which turned out thankfully to be untrue. The earthquak’s total DMG to NYC was more along the lines of this. But we have already an animated .GIF, a mug (thanks Etsy!) and a check-in (thanks Foursquare!) to remember it by.
GUNS AND STEEL. Remember Silk Road, the website with an absurdly-long URL where you can buy drugs and other wonderful things with Bitcoin, and lots of its harmless customers gave quotes to Gawker? There’s a similar underground site that’s a little more ominous, a source tells Betabeat. It’s called Metal Storm–another common name that makes it tough to find by a search–and senators might want to pay more attention to this one, because it sells guns.
About a month ago, Betabeat logged into the newly-launched Zaarly, an Ashton Kutcher and Mike Arrington investment that connects individual buyers and sellers in a design-y real-time Craigslist. It launched to much fanfare at South By Southwest. But we tried to get a pack of gum delivered to our offices, where the tech team stays sharp by chewing an inhuman amount of Dentyne Ice, for which we were willing to pay a handsome $10.
Mike Arrington just booted Jay Rosen and Nora Ephron off stage in order to “have two minutes to talk to my boss.” Now he and Arianna Huffington, head of content at AOL, are chatting one-on-one in an interview that Mr. Arrington started off somewhat aggressively with, “You’re my boss and I’ve actually had to report to you… is it as awkward for you as it is for me? I’m not good at reporting to people. Is it going to work?”
Tech Bubble Watch
Tom Formesky bills himself as the first journalist to leave a major newspaper to make a living as full time blogger. Today he penned a lengthy post about the need for neutral coverage of tech start-ups, admonishing without ever directly naming TechCrunch editor Mike Arrington, who has decided to begin investing in the companies he covers, again.
Twin posts yesterday on Is There or Is There Not a Bubble from Mike Arrington and hometown VC blogstar Fred Wilson. “This isn’t a bubble. It’s more like a Blubble,” writes Mr. Arrington, who was once worth $40 million thanks to the tech bubble of 2000.