Michael Arrington gave AOL two choices in his ransom letter: editorial independence or a chance to buy back his blog. But it looks like Arianna Huffington went with Option Three: Fire Mr. Arrington. Well, fire him again, but this time for good.
Fortune.com’s Dan Primack says, “AOL executives have decided to terminate Arrington. It is unclear how this will officially occur. Maybe a pink slip. Maybe Arrington submits a (public?) letter of resignation. Maybe Tim Armstrong simply gives Arrington a phone call, and he quickly dashes off a note to TechCrunch employees on his iPad.”
AOL has yet to confirm the decision and if we’ve learned anything from this saga, it’s that they are not most definitely not running a tight ship. In fact, according to AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, it “seems chaotic still as to what’s going on there.”Perhaps that’s why consensus is starting to build that Tim Armstrong is set to go the way of Carol Bartz.
Mr. Arrington has been uncharacteristically mum about the news. In lieu of a Spartan war cry, he meekly tweeted, “My life feels very strange to me.” But that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning.”Guesses on how portable/loyal TC audience might be to @arrington?,” tweeted Reuters’ Paul Smalera. His colleague Felix Salmon responded, “It’s not the audience that AOL has to worry about. It’s the staff. @arrington could just hire them all away.”
Over on A VC, Fred Wilson tried to imagine what TechCrunch would look like without its marquee writers:
“TechCrunch is a big question mark. If AOL can keep the rest of the team together, then TechCrunch has a bright future. No company is so reliant on one person that they can’t survive that person’s departure. But if others move on, including the people I mentioned above [MG Siegler, Erick Schonfeld, Sarah Lacy], then TechCrunch could lose its swag, as my son would put it. Yes TechCrunch gets scoops. That happens because it has a huge audience of the right readers and people in tech choose to leak to TechCrunch to reach that audience. But TechCrunch also has a voice, a swagger, a “fuck you” attitude that comes from Mike. That can also live on without Mike if AOL allows it. They need to keep the remaining team, the voice, and that attitude if they want to remain at the top of the world of tech media.”
For anyone planning on sticking around the TechCrunch offices, here’s some inspirational music.