So much for “hyperlocal” news as the Next Big Thing. Ad Age Digital reports AOL is preparing to make big changes to Patch. Instead of replacing the vanishing hometown newspaper, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong says Patch.com is now on course to take on classified ads giant Craigslist:
tech media company known on GlassDoor.com for being a “great jumping-off point for other things,” is making a habit of creating new blogs due to the sheer bungling of perfectly good blogs. TechCrunch is like some kind of organ transplant being rejected by AOL’s immune system. It’s the end of the Erick era and the start of the Eric era, and time to say goodbye to New York-based writer Jason Kincaid in the freshest round of shakeups at the post-Arrington blog. TechCrunch—how the mighty have fallen—is rapidly losing ground to competitors. PandoDaily and Uncrunched, run by TechCrunch vets, seem to announce an exciting new thing every day.
Gianna Palmer is a guest blogger for Betabeat.
AOL released its fourth quarter earnings report today and not shockingly, profits are still falling. Q4 net income fell 66 percent to $22 million (23 cents a share) and revenue slipped 3 percent to $576.8 million. CEO Tim Armstrong seemed pretty happy, though.
“AOL took a large step forward in Q4 and I am very pleased with the way we ended the year,” Armstrong said.
At least one reason for Armstrong’s cheery outlook: AOL saw its ad revenue increase 10 percent to $363.8 million. To what does it attribute this growth? In part: its hyperlocal news effort Patch.
Starboard Value LP, who’s 4.5 percent stake in AOL makes it one of the company’s largest shareholders, is taking aim at Tim Armstrong and his attempt to reinvent AOL as a media powerhouse.
In a nine page letter reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Starboard points out that AOL has seen its stock slide 70% over the past year. The company may be positioning itself to get spots on AOL’s board of directors, with all eight seats up for re-election in February.
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.
You didn’t really think Michael Arrington was going to step out of the suddenly “nuclear” spotlight with a few lamestream media quotes and some tweets, did you? If so, you must not have seen yesterday’s ransom letter in which he says: give me “editorial independence” or gimme my site back.
In short he’s recasting his ethically questionable decision to continue to edit a site about startups even as he invests in them as an affront to his very freedom.
We would call his latest move classic Arrington, except even for a “digital megalomaniac,” this is brazen. Well, brazen or laughable. Definitely one or the other.
When Arianna Huffington told David Carr that Michael Arrington was yanked from the editorial payroll and TechCrunch masthead “effectively immediately,” and relegated him to the role of unpaid blogger, this is probably not the kind of blog post she had in mind.
Woo boy. If our head wasn’t spinning, this might actually be funny. It’s been less than 24 hours since Fortune or the New York Times reported (to keep things lively, there’s even some debate around who broke the news) that Michael Arrington would be launching a $20 million venture capital and almost every player involved has offered conflicting stories about how they expect this to unfold, including, earlier this afternoon, one of TechCrunch’s own bloggers.
Will Mr. Arrington still be able to write about startups now that he has an financial inventive to help them succeed? Is blogging even journalism? Was it a good idea to name your VC fund after your news outlets about startups? Depends on who you ask!