Barry Diller offered a blunt assessment of how AOL and the Huffington Post botched TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s ouster, at the Paley Center for Media International Council’s forum on Wednesday.
In short, by forcing Arrington out over his newly launched venture capital fund, the tech company blew it.
“I’m amazed,” Diller said, “You buy a company [for $30 million] because it is absolutely the voice of a single person, primarily Michael Arrington’s voice, and you know that voice is biased and mean and capable of saying anything, of playing a hundred different games…and then, instead of saying [to his corporate bosses] shut up and go back to your room, they now own this thing that has no voice.”
Diller was quick to add that his own IAC journalistic experiment, the Daily Beast-Newsweek fusion run by Tina Brown, is run with no investment component and on the longtime model of unbiased journalism.
He cited the news site's six-month gestation period as crucial to its successful launch, as a fusion of original and curated content with a print and a web site.
Of Brown, Diller said, "We took somebody who couldn’t have more ink in their veins, and doused them in Internet.”
Diller spoke of his new Electus start-up’s intention to create content for a variety of platforms, and said that IAC’s businesses, and the digital world in general, is well insulated against further dips in the macroeconomic sphere.
Asked by media gadfly Michael Wolff what his overall strategy was for the near future, Diller simply said, “Not be dopes”.