AOL has reportedly fired TechCrunch founder and co-editor Michael Arrington over controversy about a venture capital fund that both Arrington and AOL were setting up.
In 2005, Arrington founded TechCrunch, which has become an influential news site for the tech sector, particularly within Silicon Valley. As of February this year, the site had 4.5m RSS subscribers.
He sold TechCrunch to AOL last year for US$25m. In February, AOL bought The Huffington Post for US$315m, making Arianna Huffington editor-in-chief for all of AOL’s news media sites, though Arrington would keep editorial control over TechCrunch.
The announcement of Crunch Fund sparked controversy among the US tech press, who claimed Arrington’s VC fund created a conflict of interest with the news content he wrote for TechCrunch.
Over the past few days, AOL spokespeople gave conflicting messages on whether or not he would still be working at TechCrunch or even if he still had a position at AOL after these complaints.
Arrington, becoming frustrated by the confusion, gave AOL two options: either reaffirm TechCrunch’s editorial independence as promised at the time of acquisition or sell TechCrunch back to Arrington.
However, it appears that AOL decided to ignore these options and fire Arrington outright. It’s unclear how much this will change the tech blog, though some of his staff seem pessimistic about the matter.
Photo: TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington