TechCrunch, AOL & Disappointment


Will selling TechCrunch to AOL put a $25M smile on Michael Arrington's face?

I’m disappointed by the sale of TechCrunch to AOL.

TechCrunch, for those not familiar with it, is one of the most influential technology blogs in the industry.  The site, which aggressively covers technology start-ups and social media innovation, regularly gets about 2.3 million visitors a month, according to Compete.com.  TechCrunch, under the domineering direction of Editor and Founder Michael Arrington, has become one of the strongest voices in technology journalism and achieved this milestone in less than six years.

It is no understatement to credit TechCrunch with helping reviving technology journalism and infusing it with a lot of passion and a take-no-prisoners editorial style that left traditional technology magazines struggling to catch up.

The feisty, little blog is now the property of AOL, a $2 billion media giant (despite many early obituaries writing the company off).  The sale price, not officially announced as part of the deal yesterday, was allegedly for more than $25 million.

I’ve got nothing against AOL.  They’re an outstanding company that appears to on the comeback trail as a content producer.  I’m not even an avid reader of TechCrunch (although I do check in about once a week and have them on my RSS feed).  And I often don’t agree with the tactics or even the tact of Arrington (although to be fair, I’ve never met him).

I’m disappointed because I liked the whole concept of TechCrunch.  That a small independent operation armed with the latest, easy-to-use publishing technology could elbow their way into the big time in such a short amount of time.  TechCrunch broke news that matter in technology.  They aggressively pursued stories and would gladly punch you in the eye to get it.

You can disagree with TechCrunch on a lot of things – but certainly not their passion or their work ethic.

I like the idea of the successful little guy making a mark and dislike it when they get gobbled up by big companies.

I also worry that we are the start of a trend where big media companies swoop in an devour the upstart blogs.  AOL now owns two of the most successful boot-strapped blogs: Engadget and TechCrunch.  Will they try and buy Mashable be next?  Will ReadWriteWeb soon be owned by Microsoft?  Will GigaOm be gobbled up by Google?

Are we entering into a new era of acquisition that pushes control of content back into the hands of the giant media and technology companies?  Is the era of independent bloggers now on the decline?

I hope not.  Because I like rooting for the little guys, especially bloggers.

What do you think?  And what do you think of the sale of TechCrunch?

Links:

New York Times story on AOL buying TechCrunch

AOL on Google Finance

Photo by Robert Scoble (via Flickr)

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3 Responses to “TechCrunch, AOL & Disappointment”

  1. I’m pretty inline with your thoughts on this… Part of what has made TechCrunch a mover-shaker outlet is the ability to write what they want, when they want and not be responsible to an overseer, outside of Arrington. I can’t help but think that will change with AOL as a parent company and it’s really too bad. Alas, we’ll see!

  2. I agree with you that it would be nice if these bootstrapped blogs would continue to run wild and free, but…

    I sure wouldn’t say no to $25MM. And there in lies the goal of so many tech start ups: build and grow to be bought. I don’t think TechCrunch started this way, but it’s a great conclusion for the company.

    I’ve started to turn my attention toward small up-and-comers like socialfresh.com and others. There still is passion and purity in reporting! That is, until AOL opens up their checkbook again…. ;)

  3. Hi Matt:
    If AOL is willing to pay $25M for TechCrunch they must think it is worth more than that. It isn’t like TechCrunch isn’t making money right now.

    I think that’s what hurts the U.S. these days – innovators selling out rather than trying to make a go of it…

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