Tech blog TechCrunch in tussle with parent AOL

Sep 06, 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 TechCrunch.com.

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: Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

TechCrunch founder starts venture capital fund

Sep 02, 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.

Huff Post closes deal to join AOL

Mar 07, 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 to buy tech blog TechCrunch

Sep 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 cutting over 900 jobs in US, India

Mar 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.

Layoffs expected after AOL's Huff Post buy

Mar 04, 2011

AOL's acquisition of The Huffington Post news and opinion website will trigger layoffs, the Internet company's chief executive Tim Armstrong said Thursday.

AOL acquires Web video company 5min Media

Sep 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.

Recommended for you

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

7 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

Alibaba makes Wall Street debut

12 hours ago

Alibaba made its long-awaited Wall Street debut Friday on the heels of a record stock offering that opens the door to global expansion for the Chinese online retail giant.

Alibaba IPO to boost employee fortunes to $8 bn

15 hours ago

Employees of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will see their fortunes swell to nearly $8 billion as the company prepares a massive US stock offering that could be valued at $25 billion.

Alibaba mega IPO caps founder Jack Ma success tale

18 hours ago

When Jack Ma founded Alibaba 15 years ago he insisted the e-commerce venture should see itself as competing against Silicon Valley, not other Chinese companies. That bold ambition from a time when China was ...

User comments : 0