Michael Arrington, who founded and was co-editor of popular tech blog TechCrunch, has been let go by AOL, following disagreement over a venture capital fund the two parties were establishing. TechCrunch boasted 4.5 million RSS feeds as of February 2011, and currently has nearly 282,000 Facebook ‘likes”, and more than 1.8 million Twitter followers.
TechCrunch, which has become a popular and oft sited source for tech news and information, especially in the Silicon Valley, was founded by Arrington in 2005, but according to a report in Fortune, Arrington will no longer contribute to the tech blog, nor will he take part in AOL Ventures.
AOL last year acquired TechCrunch for between US $25m and $35m. Earlier this month it was announced that Arrington was preparing to resign from his role as editor at TechCrunch in order to set up a US$20 million venture capital fund, which was to be named CrunchFund.
AOL also purchased “The Huffington Post”, which calls itself “The Internet Newspaper: News Blogs Video Community”, for US$315 million last year. Following the acquisition, Arrington was to retain editorial control for TechCrunch, but Ariana Huffington, who cofounded The Huffington Post, was to be editor-in-chief for all of AOL’s news media websites.
The tech press in the United States objected loudly when news of Arrington’s venture capital fund CrunchFund was announced, because his role in this created a conflict of interest with his responsibilites at TechCrunch. AOL was not been clear about whether Arrington would continue working for TechCrunch if he also had a position at AOL. In an attempt to resolve the conflict, Arrington gave AOL two options – restate its commitment that TechCrunch is editorially independent, as per the agreement at the time of acquisition, or sell TechCrunch back to Arrington.
AOL has elected for a third option, based on credible reports in Fortune and AllThingsD, and the future of TechCrunch is unclear.