A near two week saga at TechCrunch has come to a close. Kind of.
Founder Michael Arrington has officially stepped down from the influential technology news site that he started just over six years ago in order to become a full-time venture capitalist.
AOL issued this statement this morning:
“The TechCrunch acquisition has been a success for AOL and for our shareholders, and we are very excited about its future. 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.”
I’ve been watching the situation unfold over the past two weeks, and it has been nothing short of a PR mess. I was also struck by the headline on the TechCrunch story this morning: “Deciding” To Move On.
Note the quotes around the word “deciding.” It is also significant that Arrington did not write his own farewell post. However, Arrington is on stage today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, wearing a green T-shirt that says “Unpaid Blogger.”
“What’s your advice for me?” Arrington asked venture capitalist and entrepreneur Reid Hoffman in his talk this morning.
In another question, he asked: “What do you think of this whole TechCrunch, Arianna, me thing?”
Hoffman, the LinkedIn founder and a venture capitalist at Greylock, said he would invest in Arrington’s fund regardless of whether he was involved in TechCrunch.
“That’s what I am down to, statements on fucking T-shirts. That, and Twitter,” Arrington said of his T-shirt. Arrington also pointed out the inconsistencies that GigaOm’s Om Malik — who he said he loves — has continued to invest while writing about startups on his blog.
“That’s, why I am tired of the press and all of that,” said Arrington, pointing specifically to coverage in The New York Times.
Arrington also asked Hoffman, an investor in CrunchFund: “You think all of the drama around me hurts the companies” that I invest in?
What will be interesting to watch is how long it takes for the bombastic blogger — who likely has a strict non-compete agreement — to get back into the writing business. It will also be interesting to see what happens to the TechCrunch staff, many of whom have a deep loyalty to Arrington.
Kara Swisher of All Things D, who has been chronicling the saga, has the full memo from AOL boss Tim Armstrong.