TechCrunch-AOL-Michael Arrington Dispute Comes Down to the Staff

TechCrunch’s founder is apparently headed out the door, but how many of his foot soldiers will remain?

Are you sick of Michael Arrington stories? Join the club — even the man himself is

More than a week after controversy errupted over a venture capital fund backed by TechCrunch parent company AOL, the founder of the prominent technology site appears to be headed for the door. The fate of site, however, hangs in the balance.

It will be determined less by what happens to Arrington and more by what happens to his former staffers.

Also read: TechCrunch-AOL Fracas: Michael Arrington Asks AOL to Sell the Blog

Fortune and AllThingsD – two credible sources on such matters – have reported that Arrington is on his way out. Still being discussed are his severance package, next week’s TechCrunch Disrupt Conference – where Arrington and his staff interview prominent tech figures — and the future of the site.

Many of the site’s most prominent voices have asked for AOL to restore its editorial independence, which means letting Arrington pick his successor and generally getting out of the way. Their loyalty has to be disconcerting for AOL.

Also read: NYT Says AOL/TechCrunch 'Comically Crossed Journalistic Lines' With New VC Fund

If and when Arrington leaves, what is to stop him from just stealing his best former employees? That could be a part of his severance, but that can’t stop the writers from just quitting, which they have threatened to do if their demands are not met.

If they stay, will the site continue to be as relevant as under Arrington, considered a kingmaker?  He came up with scoops and imbued the newsroom with a certain attitude, but individual stories were and continue to be posted without an editor’s oversight.

Just as a football game comes down as much to who wins in the trenches as the quarterback’s play, the Arrington-TechCrunch-AOL battle royale (with lots of cheese) will come down to who keeps the foot soldiers.