TechCrunch’s founder and former editor Michael Arrington wants his company back.
In a post written on the site on Tuesday, Arrington says that AOL faces two options (as dictated by him): give the site its editorial independence back, or sell the shares it bought a year ago back to the original shareholders.
This is the latest in a string of stories penned by writers and editors for the powerful technology blog intended to fight back against their critics and correct the supposed fallacies being reported about the company.
Both Arrington and AOL have been under intense scrutiny since last Thursday, when Arrington announced he was launching a $20 million venture capital fund that would invest in companies his newsroom reports on.
The fund's biggest backer is none other than AOL, which reportedly sunk $10 million into the venture.
This led to an onslaught of media criticism, the latest haymaker coming from the New York Times’ David Carr, who described Arrington as having “digital megalomania.” (Not that today's blog post went any distance to impeach that view.)
It has also led to confusion regarding Arrington's role going forward. AOL editorial chief Arianna Huffington told Carr that Arrington is giving up editorial control over the blog he he founded in 2005 to run his new fund, but Arrington apparently didn't get that memo, telling another NYT writer, "I am TechCrunch, and TechCrunch is me."
In his post Monday, dismissed the dispute over editorial integrity, and said the real issue is TechCrunch’s editorial independence and self-determination.
“I believe that AOL should be held to their promise when they acquired us to give TechCrunch complete editorial independence,” Arrington wrote. “As of late last week, TechCrunch no longer has editorial independence. Some argue that the circumstances demanded it. I disagree.”
Arrington isn't fighting his battle alone. In separate posts, colleagues MG Siegler and Paul Carr (no relation to David) defended TechCrunch's practices and criticized David Carr — Paul Carr wrote that his namesake’s article had a “whole bunch of other errors."
Both Arrington's strongly worded piece and Siegler's post are very critical of AOL, claiming it has "left them in the dark" and gone back on its promises.
What will AOL have to say in response?