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Is Techcrunch really over? My analysis

A note to Techcrunch staff, including: +MG Siegler +Paul Carr +Sarah Lacy +erick schonfeld +Leena Rao and others that I posted to :

I remember hanging out with the staff a year ago before the announcement was made that AOL had purchased Techcrunch and the rumors were just rolling over the staff. Some of the staff were dismayed (to put it lightly. At least one was crying). They thought that Techcrunch as we knew it was over then. Turns out they may have been right, although they kept a brave face on it for almost a year.

+michael arrington regularly says I was the first person to link to Techcrunch and as the first linker, I gotta say, it's been quite a thing to watch over the years. I will miss it. The Mike Arrington Techcrunch, that is.

That said, I think you're wrong. Techcrunch is bigger at this point than Mike Arrington. Due in no small part to your writing and reporting (talking to MG, but really aimed at all the non-Arrington staff).

Almost every startup I talk with worries that they will miss their "Techcrunch article" and makes me promise not to break NDAs or embargos, just so they can get the famous post. That won't change with Mike gone, at least not this week -- several cool companies have asked me to hold their articles for the upcoming Disrupt conference. After all, the audience is still there. In fact, as you point out, it's probably grown and the whole mess that's going down right now has us even more interested in what's happening here.

That said, Techcrunch is no longer in a position of media disruption the way it was when it was run out of Arrington's living room. Its role in the industry is different now, and I expect we'll see you and others there lead us into this new role.

Remember Engadget? The original crew all left there too, but I still watch it for info on the latest gadgets and I imagine I will next time Steve Jobs is on stage or the next CES rolls along in January.

I won't have a front row seat anymore on this new role, which is just fine. I'm off on Google+ disrupting things over there with my own brand of tech info and videos.

Several years ago Arrington and I were headed to some conference and I asked him about how he sees himself. Did he consider himself a blogger or a journalist, I asked. His answer stuck with me all this time: "I'm an entertainer."

It has been quite entertaining to watch. While it will almost certainly be less entertaining to watch without Arrington you all still have an important role to fill. I certainly don't have the ability to cover every single startup than you and the staff there does.

Anyway, we'll be watching. Keep the faith.

As for Mike, keep disrupting.
This is a post I never thought I'd have to write. Unfortunately, I do. And the worst part about it is that it should be Michael Arrington writing this post, not me. But he can't. TechCrunch is o...
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Seems as if AOL are finally doing what they do best...fucking things up.
Still not really understanding the business logic of this from AOL. They surely know by now that doing such things will cause massive backlash....
TC was dead a long time ago, even before the AOL buyout. It had become the TMZ of the tech world... is where I get most of my updates these days.
No more Siegler trolling? What is one to do!? Oh, the Humanity!
Yeah -- I've no doubt you can't keep an +MG Siegler troll down for too long. He's talented that way.
Good article,however I could not take my eye off the girl with the nightstick.
Trouble in techno paradise.Sounds like high school!Align yourselves quickly! ;_)
mashable is better than techcrucnh, in this sense it is over
I admit I am having trouble with this story, the more I read about it, the more unsure of my conviction on it I become. As a reader and someone who only knows the various characters by what someone else tells me about them. I feel like the guy being told the story about the elephant by the six blind men. It is clear that like that story perception is everything. It is also clear that internal communication within AOL is messed up. Mike Arrington may see himself as an entertainer, but it's is clear that other people see him as much more. Again it is the problem of perception.

+Robert Scoble I would love to see that happen. Anyway I don't believe AOL wouldn't see all this coming when they decided to fund Crunchfund. Techcrunch wouldn't be over because of this that I am pretty sure.
Arrington is still a douche bag. Karma is a bitch. Don't get why people in the biz keep kissing his ass.
Isn't it naive to maintain the small mentality once you get to the size of TechCrunch? When you sell to a large corporation, your objective should be cash – to think anything else is ludicrous. You aren’t going to be able to leverage the combined resources; you are entering the corporate world. Is AOL destroying TechCrunch or are the constant personal stances paving the way for its inevitable decline? Michael Arrington is a personality and TechCrunch should be a professional site run by dedicated people who respect their entire audience – with or without Arrington. If there is something we should have learnt by now is that trust is earned not begged for. The more I read about promises to maintain editorial integrity the more I am forced to question it. Respect is earned not bought, bargained or demanded. I hope people get over Arrington’s departure. People move on. It is after all a result of several decisions and stances taken in the past by Arrington. I’m not ignoring AOL’s lack of judgment – they too have shown in the past where they stand. It is now time for the great professionals to get on and rebuild TechCrunch.
really interesting post, but as MG has pointed out nothing will be the same in the post-mike era. it's pretty much like Apple. Ap wple will continue to operate after jobs's resignation but we don't know if they will manage to prosper in the future. now, they are taking the leader of TC. this stands for all teams. When they take their leader, a new leader should emerge(and not to be assigned to the team) and a new orientation period for the members of the team should start.
It's almost as if AOL don't understand tech, and really want to prove that to us time and again.

You buyout a personality from a hugely successful tech blog, and then push him out. He now has fame, money and the so much exposure it's unbelievable. Do AOL really think that's the way to have TC make more money?

If they don't believe he can come back in a week, with a similar team to that he left, then they don't deserve to be on the internet. Again.
mashable is better than techcrucnh ... for me. techcrunch, readwriteweb and mashable have been on my reader long time. competing with each other, it seems to me that I could just rely on the mashable. +occasional Paul Carr perhaps
+Robert Scoble Couldn't agree more power is definitely the main issue with this own debacle currently going on. Will be an interesting few weeks, i am be highly interested when we look back in a year and then we can see who did the best power play in this situation
Well the important bit is "TechCrunch as we know it", not TechCrunch itself. I spend very little time at Engadget since the departure of the old team (and just can't wait for their new project). If there's an exodus at TechCrunch, I expect it'll pretty much be the same>

It really depends on who the new Editor-in-Chief will be. If he/she gives the team the same independence as Mike did, I'm sure it'll be fine. For that reason, I really think the appointment has to be from within the team (keep +erick schonfeld on permanently).
"I don't think +MG Siegler will be leaving Techcrunch now. There is an incentive if the Techcrunch team stay for at least 3 years."

Calacanis is personally capable of overcoming that incentive with, you know, $$$$$$$$. He has expressed interest and he's a fairly wealthy man.
I'm a very infrequent techcrunch reader. But I followed your link and a few links after that and reading Paul Carr's post I wonder if “FUCCCKKKK YOOOUU.” is the kind of writing that one needs to worry about. He's fuckin' all over the place in his post. What kind of journalism is that? Certainly not the kind of writing that makes me worry about techcrunch's future. Can do well without it.
Calcanis as the new editor of TC??? HELL NO! never gonna happen
+Christopher Carr I really hope Calacanis do something like that. This will really make this whole matter more entertaining.
+Robert Scoble TL;DR Too Long; Didn't Read.

It's comical how important some of you feel that these stupid websites and companies actually are. People read the info on the website, big deal. It's even more ridiculous to see that CEO's get the wool pulled over their eyes falling for stupid ideas like "CrunchFund".

Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to create a company that helps others get off the ground, but this is proof that all it takes to get a dumbass idea off the ground is to trick a few dumbasses with a lot of money into thinking it's a good idea when it isn't.

It reminds me of when Peter had a meeting with 'The Bobs in Office Space. Except I'm Peter and Mike Arrington is Lumberg
I generally quite dislike +MG Siegler's content, but at least he can string some semi-coherent sentences together...which is more than many people in the profession can say.
+MG Siegler is lamenting that AOL is about to change the landscape, but it would certainly appear that Mike Arrington did that all by himself.
"Arrington taught me a few things about entertainment, see. Heh." ;-)

I don't hate Apple, I just hate most of what they do.
As an AOL stock holder, I wish Armstrong and Huffington would concentrate on Path and micro local coverage. 
techcrunch should not have sold it itself to AOL in the first place. Obviously AOL paid good money which the folks at techcrunch liked. You can't have the cake and eat it too.
Good post, sir +Robert Scoble. Too bad I can only +1 this once, because I want to hit +1 a few more times.
I am very curious to hear what +Jason Calacanis will have to say on the matter, but perhaps even more so, how and where he'll say it.
TechCrunch was "over" for me when they started spreading lies about Wikileaks & Assange.
That Assange is completely irresponsible and has show he doesn't have the personal responsibility enough to handle information he obtains?
Techcrunch writing about Techcrunch is what they do best
Wait, we knew Arrington was out four days ago. +MG Siegler just figured it out? Some ear for news.
Amen to AOL's days are numbered. The top is brain dead!
Inspired by the What If comics of old:
The first thing MG Siegler would do if he was starting a media company would be to hire Robert Scoble and pair him up with...

Marshall Kirkpatrick :)

Is there a fantasy league for tech bloggers/journalists cause I have my favorites.
TECH CRUNCH is garbage anyway. Unless you enjoy a one sided view on everything. I'm glad they are gone. That's one less idiots view I have to hear people repeating blindly. 
Apart from a bit of a vent I'm wondering what to make of MG's latest post. It almost seemed like a bit of a public pre-emptive strike in a bid to change AOL's mind on .. 'something' (bringing their own editor/formally giving MA the boot/..)
+Robert Scoble i knew this would happen,when Techcrunch was sold.+Arrington might be a dick but still he's better than Aol's n huffington's Hippocratic bullshits
Doesn't it concern anyone that MG's only yardstick for TC's "success" is the number of scoops they get? Shouldn't we aspire to accuracy, good writing, in-depth reporting and basic grammar/spelling? By MG's description TC's greatest aspiration is a glorified "first post".

I think it's hilarious that MG felt he needed to tell us that TC operates without editors. Every post is so fraught with errors that it makes the whole enterprise seem like a blog run out of a dorm room.
Robert, I think you do a good job calling it what it is -- TechCrunch is now an established media outlet. The writers are more vivid as personalities than traditional media since they can/do express opinion openly, but the audience is entrenched for the moment.
It sounds like that what MG is participating is the high tech equivalent of a sit-down strike. He can successfully stop AOL in its tracks if he organizes his coworkers. Without them, they are dead in the water and they journalists can pretty much dictate what they want. Very cool.
I stopped reading anything from TechCrunch after they became a politically motivated organization. If they merely reported tech, it would be OK, but instead they constantly find the need to insert their own political motives and commentary. So I get my tech news outside of them.
So, AOL = Evil. Hey MG, why not just pull a Topolsky and start fresh?
FTA: "AOL seems to think that by cutting off the biggest conflicts — ones so big that they’d obviously have to be disclosed — that they’ll be a bastion of integrity in the editorial landscape."

AOL is the opposite of integrity. I don't trust any of their products. I actively avoid them. I was really disappointed when they bought Techcrunch but have, so far, been pleased by their apparent lack of meddling. Looks like that's over.
As the co-founder of a social aggregator startup ( ) we regularly talk about getting "tech-crunched" and what it could mean for our community and our infrastructure. It has become a verb. Btw, we also talk about getting "Scobled".
While reading MG's post I found myself asking myself "How exactly is this good for Apple?" took me a while to realize I was reading his first non-Apple related post. /snark

My hopes are that Mike does what he really should have done when he sold... take his ball somewhere else... The truth is that AOL can't do what TC was built on and it's going to fail because of what AOL is... Mike should have seen that from day one, but I suppose things were a slight bit better pre-Houghington. Mike just needs to leave and start up again, this time taking more keys from his current interests and desire to not be stuck as an editor. Gut TC as much as he can with what ever talent he can pull away and watch as its collapse proves that it really was his work and talent that brought it all together. Sure, it's sad to watch something you built get ruined, but he lost his ability to control that when he sold to AOL.
I don't think the question of what is (or isn't) journalism is the key question. That's a talmudic debate which is certainly interesting.

I think the question is "Are you being ethical?". That's not a yes or no question. We all fall somewhere on the scale and it often changes as we face different challenges and conflicts.

Disruption at any cost is as destructive as information at any cost if it's not based in ethical conduct.
(PS. Yes, I'm embarrassed I didn't know the Story)
This notion that TechCrunch holds the keys to the Start-Up kingdom makes me think it would be a good thing to see TechCrunch die. As with everything, competition benefits us all and it seems dangerous to have so much power in the hands of one organization that time and again flouts basic journalistic ethics.
Personally as a tech blogger I salute Tech Crunch. They have been an inspiration in the industry and I wish them nothing but the best.
So a certified "Friend of Apple" is trying to take the high road on journalistic integrity? Arrington may be a troll and a blowhard but he hasn't used the mantle of unbiased journalist to further the PR aspersions of companies worth billions of dollars. You always knew where Arrington had his interests not so with Swishberg over at all things Apple.
I never thought that AOL and TechCrunch were a good mix, but if Arrlington sold out for the money then why is he so upset, unless its a guilty conscience that he dumped his colleagues in the mire.
I feel really bad for everyone there, especially +sarahlacy although it is quite naive to have believed things would be the same. They never are after an acquisition.
Mike Su
Great post Robert. Helped me crystalize a lot of my thinking, and in fact, you got me to post on my blog again! :) But I think this is the fundamental tension:

To be exceptional, you have to be willing to make exceptions. To scale, you cannot make exceptions.

Some organizations are great because they make exceptions for talent. Some organizations are great because they are built to scale and can plug and play at any level of the organization. But those organizations that can scale create rules that are often the least common denominator that ensures widespread, repeatable success, but will often squash the creativity and ingenuity of their most talented people. Some need to transition from an organization of exceptions to an organization that can scale, and there will be casualties along the way. Here's my blog post, in many more words:
Robert I always forget that at the end of the day - your real talent is that you're a writer (and a persuasive one at that). I was just reading about a famous editor that could tell from the first paragraph whether a writer would be successful or not. He said that's all the time it took to determine whether the writer liked people. A writer who genuinely liked and was interested in people was almost certain to succeed. You wrote here with warmth, honesty and optimism. I hope you're right - and that TechCrunch will carry on.
Robert, I actually think you blew it on this one. For a guy with the context you have available to you, this is not convincing. Despite Mike's occasional poor judgement, a percentage of his posts were literally the best in tech. That presence alone affected tech company behavior for the better. I was flamed badly for saying "AOL / Arianna will ruin TechCrunch". They have.
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