Tech blog TechCrunch in tussle with parent AOL

September 6, 2011 by Chris Lefkow
Founder and co-editor of TechCrunch Michael Arrington, pictured in May 2011. Less than a year after its acquisition by AOL, leading technology blog TechCrunch is involved in a tussle with its new parent company over journalism ethics and editorial independence.

Less than a year after its acquisition by AOL, leading technology blog TechCrunch is involved in a tussle with its new parent company over journalism ethics and editorial independence.

After several days of confusion, controversy and conflicting reports about his fate, founder and ousted co-editor broke his silence Tuesday with a post on

Arrington demanded AOL either grant TechCrunch the editorial independence it promised when the acquired the site in late September of last year or it sell the popular blog back to him.

Otherwise, he said: "I cannot be a part of TechCrunch going forward."

The legendarily combative Arrington illustrated his blog post with a picture from the movie "300," which features a small band of Spartans battling against the Persians in a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae.

Arrington's situation at TechCrunch has been murky since he launched a $20 million venture capital fund last week called CrunchFund. Several of Silicon Valley's leading are contributors to the fund.

The launch of a fund investing in startup companies like those TechCrunch covers was seen as a breach of journalism ethics by some media analysts and rival tech bloggers and prompted Arrington's removal as co-editor.

The decision to remove Arrington from an editorial position at TechCrunch was reportedly made by , founder of The Huffington Post, which AOL bought in February.

Huffington was named the head of all editorial content at AOL following the purchase of her news and opinion site for $315 million, making her Arrington's de facto boss.

Complicating matters, however, was the fact that $10 million of the funding for CrunchFund came from the venture capital arm of AOL itself and the project received the blessing of Huffington's boss, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong.

"TechCrunch is a different property and they have different standards," Armstrong told The New York Times in an article last week announcing the creation of the fund.

"We have a traditional understanding of journalism with the exception of TechCrunch, which is different but is transparent about it," he said.

Neither Armstrong, Huffington or AOL has made any public comment since the controversy erupted last week.

In his blog post, Arrington said the "core issue" was not his employment situation at TechCrunch but "editorial independence and self determination."

"As of late last week TechCrunch no longer has editorial independence," he said. "Some argue that the circumstances demanded it. I disagree."

Without specifically mentioning Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, Arrington said that editorial independence "means autonomy from Huffington Post."

"To put it simply, TechCrunch would stay with AOL but would be independent of the Huffington Post," he said.

AOL's purchases of TechCrunch and The have been the most high-profile efforts by Armstrong, a former Google executive, to turn around a company whose name has become synonymous with the dotcom era's excesses.

AOL merged with Time Warner in 2001 at the height of the dotcom boom in what is considered one of the most disastrous mergers ever and was spun off by Time Warner in December into an independent company.

AOL shares gained 3.38 percent to $14.99 on Wall Street on Tuesday.

Explore further: AOL to buy tech blog TechCrunch

Related Stories

AOL to buy tech blog TechCrunch

September 28, 2010

(AP) -- AOL Inc. said Tuesday that it will buy technology blog TechCrunch and its sister sites for an undisclosed amount in a bid to expand its news production.

AOL acquires Web video company 5min Media

September 28, 2010

AOL, the once high-flying Internet portal which is seeking to make a comeback as a content company, announced Tuesday it has acquired Web video syndication firm 5min Media.

Huff Post closes deal to join AOL

March 7, 2011

The Huffington Post officially joined AOL Monday, celebrating with the announcement that it had nabbed reporters from The New York Times, Yahoo!, and even Rupert Murdoch's new iPad newspaper The Daily.

AOL cutting over 900 jobs in US, India

March 10, 2011

Internet company AOL is cutting more than 900 jobs as it joins forces with The Huffington Post and seeks to reinvent itself as a major player in online news.

TechCrunch founder starts venture capital fund

September 2, 2011

(AP) -- Michael Arrington, founder of popular tech blog TechCrunch, is starting a venture capital firm with an initial $20 million to invest in the same kinds of startups that TechCrunch often covers.

Recommended for you

Claims for solar cell efficiency put to test at NREL

February 8, 2016

The sheet of paper taped to the door of Keith Emery's office tells the story. On the paper is a simple fever chart showing the improvements made in increasing the efficiency of two dozen types of solar cells. Some of the ...

Search engines will know what you want ... sooner

February 8, 2016

If you enter "Oklahoma" in a search engine, you might get a travelogue, news about the oil industry, Oklahoma State football scores or an article on Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. What appears at the top of the list might ...

Researchers find vulnerability in two-factor authentication

February 3, 2016

Two-factor authentication is a computer security measure used by major online service providers to protect the identify of users in the event of a password loss. The process is familiar: When a password is forgotten, the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.