March 2, 2021

Bits Blog: AOL Says Arrington No Longer Works at TechCrunch

Michael Arrington said that his investments would not influence TechCrunch’s coverage.Noah Berger/Bloomberg NewsMichael Arrington said that his investments would not influence TechCrunch’s coverage.

Updated 12:40 p.m.: Added more details.

Michael Arrington’s role as both a journalist and an investor is getting more complicated.

On Thursday, Mr. Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, and AOL, which owns TechCrunch, announced that Mr. Arrington would start a venture capital fund to invest in start-ups like the ones that TechCrunch covers, but that he would remain involved with the blog.

But on Friday, AOL said that Mr. Arrington was now an employee of AOL Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm, and was not on its editorial payroll.

Mr. Arrington said on Thursday that his new title would be founding editor and writer. “I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me,” he said. “There’s no way around it.”

Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chief executive, said Thursday that while Mr. Arrington’s role would change and TechCrunch would hire a new managing editor, Mr. Arrington would still be involved with the TechCrunch blog. He said that AOL Ventures and Mr. Arrington’s new fund, the CrunchFund, would operate separately. He also said that Arianna Huffington, who oversees all of AOL’s media sites, was on board with Mr. Arrington’s new role, and that she and Mr. Arrington had worked together closely on standards for the site.

But by Thursday night, Ms. Huffington told David Carr at The New York Times that Mr. Arrington was no longer on AOL’s editorial payroll and would have no editorial role. And Friday morning, AOL’s press machine changed its tune.

“Michael’s role has changed,” said Maureen Sullivan, an AOL spokeswoman. “He now works within AOL Ventures. He’s becoming a professional investor. He is no longer involved in editorial.”

“It didn’t change overnight,” Ms. Sullivan added. “It’s just very important to be really clear about the exact specifics.”

Mario Ruiz, a spokesman for the Huffington Post Media Group, said that while Mr. Arrington’s editorial role at TechCrunch was over, he would still be able to write posts for the site as an unpaid blogger.

“He will continue to write, but his editorial role is over,” Mr. Ruiz said.

Mr. Arrington said that he was confused by the back-and-forth.

“I have no idea what AOL’s final position on this will be,” he said. “I look forward to hearing it. I’ll respond once Arianna has made her last statement.”

Ms. Huffington is traveling in Brazil and was unavailable for immediate comment.

Ms. Huffington, Tim O’Brien and Peter Goodman, editors at The Huffington Post, are leading the search for a new managing editor for TechCrunch, Ms. Sullivan said. In the meantime, Eric Schonfeld, a TechCrunch writer, will act as editor.

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