Michael Arrington created a bit of a stir this week when the press learned that he was starting CrunchFund, a venture-capital fund that would invest in the start-ups covered on his Silicon Valley blog, TechCrunch. After a bit of waffling, AOL, which purchased the highly influential site for $30 million last year and put $10 million into CrunchFund, announced that Arrington had been relieved of his editorial responsibilities because of potential conflicts of interest, though he would remain an employee. Yesterday, Arrington attempted to regain control of the situation, writing on TechCrunch that he believed that AOL should be "held to their promise" of "complete editorial independence" for the platform:
As of late last week TechCrunch no longer has editorial independence. Some argue that the circumstances demanded it. I disagree. Editorial independence was never supposed to be an easy thing for Aol to give us. But it was never meaningful if it shatters the first time it is put to the test. We’ve proposed two options to Aol.
1. Reaffirmation of the editorial independence promised at the time of acquisition. Given the current circumstances, that means autonomy from Huffington Post, unfettered editorial independence and a blanket right to editorial self determination. To put it simply, TechCrunch would stay with Aol but would be independent of the Huffington Post.
2. Sell TechCrunch back to the original shareholders.
According to Fortune, AOL executives will do neither of those things. Instead, they've decided to "terminate" him, though it's not clear how exactly that will go down. (As reporter Dan Primack asked, will Arrington's departure take place over a pink slip, a letter of resignation, or a Yahoo-style phone call/iPad e-mail combo?) Whatever happens, given AOL's $10 million commitment and Arrington's less than cooperative attitude, it's probably not going to be pretty.