TechCrunch, the Silicon Valley-focused website AOL bought last year, has announced another major editorial change as Eric Eldon will replace editor-in-chief Erick Schonfeld.
Schonfeld has only been in the job since September, when he replaced the site’s founder, Michael Arrington. Schonfeld took over after Arrington announced he was launching an investment arm called CrunchFund, which included a sizeable investment from TechCrunch’s parent company AOL.
MG Siegler, a TechCrunch contributor, broke the news just before a post went up on TechCrunch.
Here is a note from Eldon (above) on the change:
"When Erick and I talked about me joining TechCrunch last November, the circumstance today was obviously not on either of our minds. But things can change very quickly in the world of blogging, and Erick decided now is the best time for him to leave.
"Erick is an extremely experienced journalist and editor, he has worked hard to make the best of a very tough situation in recent months, and he’s done a great job of assembling a new team of young veterans — Sarah Perez, Josh Constine, Ingrid Lunden, Colleen Taylor, Eric Eldon (yes, apologies for speaking in the third person), and another person we’ll be announcing later this week. Along with all of the other alumni, Erick deserves a lot of credit for what TechCrunch is today."
What Eldon fails to mention is that those hires were, in part, a result of a mass exodus. Many of the site’s biggest stars, from Paul Carr to Sarah Lacy to Jason Kincaid, have left over the past few months in the wake of the Arrington controversy.
Siegler reduced his responsibility to a weekly column.
The CrunchFund caused a stir because many saw it as a conflict of interest for Arrington to be running a venture fund when TechCrunch also reports on such firms. That AOL invested $10 million in the fund did not help matters either.
Arrington eventually left – or was pushed out, depending on which version you ascribe to – and Schonfeld took over. At the time, the move was seen as a way of preventing a staff mutiny because Schonfeld was a long-time writer for the site and well-liked.
AOL faced a similar problem at Engadget, its tech blog that has lost several of its top staffers since editor Josh Topolosky left and started The Verge.
Schonfeld’s departure was met with much surprise on Twitter, with some wondering whether he left of his own accord.
GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram left it at “Wow” while Carr, who was quite critical of the site on his way out, hailed the move. “It's official, @erickschonfeld out at TC. MG has the scoop on Pandodaily.com. Congrats to @eldon on the new gig, and welcome back TC!”
Schonfeld was more understated in his departure, tweeting his support for Eldon: "TechCrunch is in good hands. I'm very proud of the team I've built there."
Meanwhile Siegler balanced praise for Schonfeld with a yearning for big change at the almost seven-year old site.
"The good news is that despite the exodus, Eldon comes into his new position with a great core writing staff around him. Schonfeld did a nice job replenishing the roster in the past few months, including hiring Eldon.
But the sad fact of the matter is that sometimes the reset button needs to be hit — especially after such losses. Schonfeld knew it. AOL knew it. Eldon knew it. We all knew it.
And now it has been hit."