Almost a year ago, TechCrunch, the phenomenal technology business news blog I’ve been writing for almost three years now, was acquired by AOL. Fast forward to today, and Michael Arrington (who I assume you know as the founder of TechCrunch) has “decided” to move on and leave the blog to focus on his brand new venture capital fund, the awfully named CrunchFund.
Obviously, if you’ve been reading tech and media blogs and news sites in the past few weeks (all hail Techmeme), you’ll know that a whole lot has happened at TechCrunch and AOL, with protagonists Tim Armstrong, Arianna Huffington and Arrington almost continually in the spotlights for various reasons.
Chances are you know more than or at least as much as I do, in fact. Unfortunately, what I’ve always found TechCrunch to be one of its few but major flaws, internal communication, or rather the lack thereof, is still very much a problem today.
In essence, I still don’t know what went down exactly, and I can only hope to learn at some point. I happen to think TechCrunch kind of owes me that much. It’s extremely frustrating knowing a lot of insidery stuff about the companies we cover, as well as what goes on at other blogs, but to not have a clue what goes on at your employer. Especially when some ‘quality’ reporters seem hell-bent on mischaracterizing the situation and the people involved – you know who you are, you “fair, balanced and ethical” journalists. Bah.
I feel like I have a lot more to say about this, and many stories to share about the three years I’ve spent writing for TechCrunch, but I’m keeping all that for future days.
I also didn’t feel much like posting about it on TechCrunch during the whole ordeal.
First, I’d like to congratulate Erick Schonfeld for his new position as editor-in-chief of TechCrunch. He’s always been my editor-in-chief anyway, so I doubt anything will change now or in the near future, but I just wanted to say I’m very glad to see him taking the full reins instead of leaving in the midst of uncalled-for drama.
Make no mistake: the man is a class act.
Second, I would like to tell Mike Arrington once and for all that I’m extremely grateful for giving me a chance to write for TechCrunch, a blog I have long been an enormous fan of, to this day, and for teaching me a lot (consciously and subconsciously).
Fuck the haters. Mike is an extraordinary person with a great sense of humor, and even though we’ve never really interacted all that much over the years (mostly because I only bother him when it’s really necessary, and vice versa, and because I live in a completely different timezone, on a different continent), I admire what he’s built and how he built it. I’m in awe of him for how he changed the game and for his ability to keep focus.
There is much people can learn from him, and while I have my doubts that starting a VC fund was the best decision for him to make, I’m sure he’ll do well and teach many people how the world works with his no-bullshit style along the way.
Fuck you, whoever screwed him in the past two weeks, too. My hope is Mike starts a new blog (perhaps as an ‘unpaid blogger’, which is sort of how he started out with TechCrunch) or writes a book some day to call out the people who’ve stabbed him in the back once and for all. If only so I would know what went down as well. 🙂
A lot of people say nobody needs to feel sorry for Mike, since he’s made a lot of money with TechCrunch, its conference business and the AOL acquisition and should have known what was coming, but these people do not understand what it’s like to build something and then have it taken away by others. They also clearly don’t know Mike, who is definitely a more emotional human being than most people give him credit for.
I like telling people how I remember getting hired, but I’ve never actually blogged about it, so here goes:
I was one of the writers that got severely burned in the Blognation debacle back in 2007, and after that I wanted nothing to do with the tech blogging scene anymore, instead doing some consulting for companies who wanted to learn more about social media, as well as some startups.
Somehow, the writing bug in me at some point made me ask the guys who ran The Next Web, then a relatively unknown tech blog but now easily one of the best in the business, if I could blog for them a bit. I remember I actually wanted to do it for free but ended up asking something like 250 euros per month just to cover some expenses.
So I enjoy myself, break some stories (I’ve always been more reliant on speed than ‘working sources’ but this has worked for me tremendously well, and it still does) and finally tease Arrington – who I got to know, ironically, because of the whole Blognation drama – in a Skype chat that he’s getting slow and that there will be a day where he’ll be forced to hire me.
One day, not too long after, that’s exactly what he does. He says something like “dude, stop breaking stories on TNW and come blog for us instead, ok?”.
The next day, I received a username and password for WordPress, our CMS, and I remember asking for an editorial guideline of some sort. His response was something to the effect of “dude, just blog”. So I did, hehe.
Erick ended up really teaching me the ropes, but it was Mike who gave me a shot. I only learned later, from Erick, that they were actively looking for a writer in Europe to keep the blog alive when the writers in the United States were asleep. I had no idea.
I never had to really apply for the job, or send in some test articles or anything. For all I know, it was a spontaneous decision on their and my part, it all went down extremely fast, and from day one I enjoyed a tremendous amount of freedom and independence with regards to editorial.
So thank you, Michael Arrington, for taking me on and letting me be part of the ride.
TechCrunch will still rock and continue to embarrass the older, ‘more established’ publications and the reporters who actually believe they are more ethical than you are – on a daily basis. But TechCrunch will never, ever be the same again without you.
(Picture courtesy of Flickr user Kevin Krejci)