Can Erick Schonfeld Keep the TechCrunch Swagger Alive?

As the veteran editor steps into the top job, his departing colleague is torching the fields behind him.

Despite being viewed by some as the Robin to Mr. Arrington’s Batman, in fact Mr. Schonfeld has a formidable resume of his own. After graduating from Cornell in 1993, Mr. Schonfeld went right to work as a journalist at Fortune. In 1996 and again in 1997, Schonfeld was recognized as one of the “brightest financial journalists under the age of 30” by the TJFR Business News Reporter. In 1999, he won the prize for best information technology submission at London’s Business Journalist of the Year Awards. In the lead up to the dot-com bust he moved to Business 2.0 and when that company went under a few years later, he took a coveted spot as co-editor at TechCrunch.

When Mr. Schonfeld began working at TechCrunch in 2007 it was still largely the personal blog of Mr. Arrington. In the five year’s since, the site has become the news outlet of record for the tech industry. Startups compete to break their company’s news on TechCrunch, both as a status symbol and because coverage there brings young companies so many new users. The site’s conference, Disrupt, is a sell-out affair, with execs from Google, Facebook and Twitter taking the stage to trade inside jokes with Mr. Arrington.

Mr. Schonfeld’s opportunity is vast. TechCrunch is bigger and more profitable than ever. Its recent acquisition by AOL means it has a fatter bankroll and a much larger audience network. Still, there’s a big obstacle: Mr. Arrington seems intent on burning the fields behind his departing forces, even going so far as to write his own epitaph, evoking the spirit of Louis XIV: “I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me.” Given that he’s the site’s founding editor and most recognized writer, that has been true till now. It’s up to Mr. Schonfeld to rewrite that formula.

“I’ve been recruiting for the last three weeks straight,” Mr. Schonfeld told Betabeat. “To pretend that everything will go on as before is foolish. But the team will grow and, best of all, the top writers in the industry all want to work for us.”