AOL confirms Arrington’s departure from TechCrunch

12 Sep 2011

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington has “moved on”, according to AOL. Staffer Erick Schonfeld has been named the new editor of the Silicon Valley start-up bible.

Arrington, a former Silicon Valley lawyer and entrepreneur, started TechCrunch in 2005 profiling new start-up companies and it quickly became the Silicon Valley start-up bible. By 2007, he was in Time magazine, named as one of the most influential people in the world.

Last year, AOL acquired TechCrunch for an estimated US$25m-US$35m, just months before AOL then acquired the Huffington Post for US$315m.

In recent weeks, it emerged that Arrington was starting his own US$20m venture capital firm CrunchFund, with a number of seasoned venture investors, including AOL.

However, very quickly the venture became mired in a public debate about ethics and whether writers can also be investors in firms.

Arrington gave AOL an ultimatum: either give him editorial independence or sell TechCrunch back to him.

The situation has been unclear for days but this afternoon it seems AOL has made a statement, saying Arrington has chosen to move on.

“The TechCrunch acquisition has been a success for AOL and for our shareholders, and we are very excited about its future,” AOL said in a statement.

“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 endeavour 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.”

The question now is, will the debate die down?

Perhaps the last quip went to Arrington, who showed up at today’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “Unpaid Blogger”, perhaps as a dig at Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, who waded into the storm late last week.

Photo: TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years