Did Arianna Huffington Fire Michael Arrington Over Ethics?

Michael Arrington
Image by Joi

Guest post by Richard Laermer

It appears a couple of different takes on Friday’s story about Mike Arrington leaving TechCrunch, a company which he founded in 2005 and was bought out by AOL in April…

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal article one gets the warm fuzzy feeling that Arrington simply resigned to move on to a bigger and better adventure of running a $20 million venture-capital fund, called CrunchFund, which is to invest in start-ups. CrunchFund is backed by AOL and several VC firms.

TechCrunch is quoted as saying that Arrington will continue to write for TechCrunch, but will have no editorial oversight. When the news broke Arrington tweeted “slow news day.”

Business Insider story quotes Arianna Huffington, the President and Editor-in-Chief of AOL Huffington Post Media Group said, “Mr. Arrington is not being paid by TechCrunch, he does not report to TechCrunch editors and does not report to her or other AOL Huffington Post Media Group personnel.

Reading between the lines, it’s obvious that Arrington didn’t resign. This has all the flavorings of someone who has just been fired.

When Business Insider asked for a clarification on Arrington’s new role (if any), Ms. Huffington said that “Mr. Arrington will be welcome to contribute to unpaid blogs to the company as long as he stays within AOL blogging guidelines.” She went on to say that Arrington’s relationship with at AOL is not with TechCrunch but with AOL Ventures.

Business Insider pressed for clarification on Arrington’s role at AOL. They were finally told that Arrington no longer works for AOL in any capacity. Strong words for someone who the WSJ would have us believe that he just merely resigned. As Business Insider noted this sounds more and more that Ms. Huffington ousted Arrington.

There is a funny coda to the Arringtongate story, according to Business Insider: Suddenly, Arianna Huffington decided she could not have a bad vibe in “her house”.

“The editor just got bounced from the staff by his boss, Arianna Huffington. She found out Arrington and her boss, Tim Armstrong, were planning to launch a VC fund about the very startups that Arrington writes about. Not in her house.”

Oh, really?

8 Replies to “Did Arianna Huffington Fire Michael Arrington Over Ethics?”

  1. I have to tell you, Geoff, when I first read the news it really blew my hair back.  Talk about two big dogs barking.  (And the fact that “Arianna and Arrington” sounds like a new cartoon on TCN didn’t help.)  Having said that, it’s Arianna’s company and I’m a fan of hers (most recently for having free buses available to anyone who wanted to go to The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.)  But, I wonder, if she wasn’t a woman would we be hearing the “bad vibe” comment?  And, that’s right – it’s Big Momma’s House!!!  :)

    1. I think you may be reading too much into the bad vibe comment. This is the classic example of amateur who makes it big with a blog, gets in a real business environment, and runs into reality. Funny because Arrington was so good at calling everybody else out.

  2. There are a few things that bother me about this, but I think you’re right (Geoff) in that an entrepreneur, who is accustomed to doing things his way, got into the business world and had another thing waiting for him. It’s a great thing to remember, for those of us who are entrepreneurs and have ever considered going to work for someone again. You have to play by someone else’s rules.

    1. It’s also important to remember that Arrington claimed to be a journalist, but broke many unwritten rules of journalism. I’m not saying Huffington is a master of journalistic integrity, but if true, investing in the companies you write about is certainly a violation.

      I personally  have learned the entrepreneur’s lesson when I sold Livingston Communications.  It would take a lot to make me learn it again. :)

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. I have nothing nice to say about Michael. I will leave it as ‘Kharma is a bitch bro’. Of his writings I read he came across as catty, a cry baby, and a whiner. And to tell the truth it really affected my view of Tech Crunch to where I don’t read it.

    @geofflivingston:disqus your comment to @ginidietrich:disqus said it perfectly.

  4. A few things. 1) Love the soap opera angle. I also read US Weekly ;). 2) I think the rules of “journalism” and what people can write about are changing every day. But full disclosure and constant reminders would have been an absolute must for Arrington in that role if he still blogged/blogs for TechCrunch. 3) You are never too big for anything. And the moment you think you are, you’ll be reminded that someone is always bigger. 4) Usually when someone resigns, they got fired. When someone leaves on their own accord, they or the company don/’t feel the need to make a big deal about the fact they resigned.

    Good stuff. Cheers!

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