Tag Archives: Technology coverage

Arrington leaving TechCrunch

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AOL announced Monday that Michael Arrington is leaving the tech news site TechCrunch that he founded and sold to the Internet company a year ago.

Emily Steel of The Wall Street Journal writes, “AOL announced the move in a statement on Monday and said it would continue to invest in Mr. Arrington’s fund. The announcement of the fund earlier this month set off a debate between Mr. Arrington and AOL over journalistic ethics and whether Mr. Arrington’s should continue to write for the blog.

“AOL named Erick Schonfeld editor of TechCrunch. Mr. Schonfeld was previously the site’s co-editor.

“Mr. Arrington commented on the matter briefly at a TechCrunch conference in San Francisco, saying ‘it is no longer a good situation for me to stay’ and calling it ‘a sad day.’

“When the fund was announced Sept. 1, an AOL spokesman said that Mr. Arrington would remain a founding editor of TechCrunch. In the role, he would disclose conflict of interests when he wrote but have ‘no editorial oversight,’ the company said.

Read more here.

Conflicts of interest and business journalism

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Gordon Crovitz, the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, writes in Monday’s Journal about conflicts of interest in the wake of the brouhaha over whether TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington can invest in startups and still write about them for the tech news site.

Crovitz writes, “Put another way, some of the smartest venture capitalists have concluded that they could get inside access to the best startups by becoming investors alongside Mr. Arrington. This is a tribute to TechCrunch, even if it is counter to how other information brands, like the Journal, build value. It may be evidence of a change in what builds trust, at least among investors and perhaps readers.

“Regardless of technological change, one constant is that information plays the key role in driving markets. Investors need confidence that they are getting the facts. The Latin warning ‘caveat lector’ — let the reader beware — applies even more in the digital world.

“This is an era of many different sources of information and business models. Readers can decide if there is even enough room for a brand with a reputation for being so close to trades that it’s hard to tell where news ends and investing begins.”

Read more here.

AOL declines sale of TechCrunch back to Arrington

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Kara Swisher of All Things D reports that AOL has decided against selling tech news site TechCrunch back to founder Michael Arrington and is now working on a negotiating a severance package with him.

Swisher writes, “Source said the sides are still caught on the terms of the parting, including whether Arrington and other TechCrunch staffers will get the big-money earn-outs based on their staying at AOL, as well what would happen if Arrington were to start a competing blog site and siphon away editorial staffers from TechCrunch.

“Hanging over the proceedings: Next week’s lucrative TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, where Arrington and other TechCrunch staffers interview tech luminaries and show off new start-ups.

“Also in play is the status of the site’s writers. At least one — the windswept Paul Carr — has written on TechCrunch that he will resign if Arrington is not allowed to handpick his successor.”

Read more here.

AOL decides to terminate Arrington

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Dan Primack of Fortune is reporting that AOL has decided to terminate TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who has started a venture capital fund to invest in tech companies.

Primack writes, “Instead, Fortune has learned that 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.

“In other words, the ending has been written but much of the final chapter remains blank. This includes the fate of CrunchFund, which still includes that pesky AOL commitment (which it technically could default on, but that would lead to all sorts of other problems).

“It also is important to note that while I’m led to believe this decision is final, AOL has been so scattershot during this past week that any sort of reversal would not shock me (particularly since Arrington likely will be asking for the world, while Huffington will want to offer him a bowl of dust).

“Earlier today, I wrote that the biggest loser in this affair was Arianna Huffington. But perhaps I judged too early. Huffington clearly erred here in okaying a project without fully understanding its public relations consequences, and then quickly backtracking without admitting to having done so.  But, at the same time, Huffington now appears to be more influential at AOL than the company’s CEO (both of them were aware of CrunchFund, but Armstrong was far more involved in its formation). And then there is Arrington, who has lost both his job and (likely) his TechCrunch platform. Oh, and AOL has a mess on its hands deciding if Arrington should or shouldn’t participate in next week’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference (assuming he’s even willing to attend).”

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TechCrunch writer fears the site is doomed

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M.G. Siegler, a writer on the tech news site TechCrunch, writes that its new owner AOL is ruining the site with its handling of founder Michael Arrington, who was removed from overseeing it after starting a venture capital fund.

Siegler writes, “Could TechCrunch survive without Mike Arrington? Probably. We’re doing so many pageviews now, and the machine is so profitable, that you can plug in other parts and it will run. But without him, it will not be the same. You might not think you’ll miss what he brings, but you will. Quite often, you never even see what he brings. But it permeates the entire site.

“If AOL tries to bring in their own Editor-in-Chief to run TechCrunch, it will be a colossal fucking mistake. The old adage: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ — if AOL throws out Mike and tries to install their own despot, it will be breaking it just so they can fix it. And they might not like the end result. It may run, but it will never purr with the precision at which we purr right now.

“I can’t believe this is even a possibility. But it is. And so I’m writing this at the eleventh hour to let you, our readers, know before you find out via a press release. I don’t know, maybe I’m hopeful that the collective voice of millions of loyal readers can change a company’s mind. Maybe that’s naive. But it’s worth a shot. We owe that to Mike.

“AOL seems to think that by cutting off the biggest conflicts — ones so big that they’d obviously have to be disclosed — that they’ll be a bastion of integrity in the editorial landscape. What a bunch of horse shit. The conflicts we need to worry about are the ones not disclosed. They’re far more prevalent and they do actually deceive readers because they’re far more subtle. But that’s an impossible task. AOL can’t fix that — no one can. So instead they’ll slaughter the lamb everyone can see to gain puffery amongst the old media peers who also live to die another day.”

Read more here.

Ethics and reporting on tech companies

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New York Times business columnist David Carr does not like the move by AOL to invest in the venture capital fund being run by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and that it’s allowing Arrington to continue to write for the tech news site, even for free.

Carr writes, “One of the sharpest critiques of this conflation came from Paul Carr, who happens to write for TechCrunch (and is no relation to me). He savaged Mr. Armstrong for fumbling the announcement and sacrificing TechCrunch’s editorial credibility, and said he was worried that ‘investors will gain influence over how CrunchFund-backed companies are covered on TechCrunch.’

“Maybe the DNA of the place that Mr. Arrington built is hearty enough to survive the clumsy hands of its owners. And of course there are other venture capitalists — Om Malik and Fred Wilson  — who both publish and trade on information. But TechCrunch is a large, influential news site owned by one of the few companies still investing in journalism, and that company has been effectively put in a corner by a guy who was supposed to be working for it.

“Mr. Arrington is powerful enough to have remade a corner of journalism to his own liking. But in an effort to accommodate the demands of one, AOL may have altered the terrain for many. If insiders can trade on the news they publish, readers may become an adjunct to a business that is less about public information than private gain.”

Read more here.

Arrington resigns as ME of TechCrunch to run venture capital fund

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Michael Arrington, the founder and managing editor of the tech news site TechCrunch, has resigned as managing editor of the site so that he can run a venture capital fund that will invest in startup tech companies.

Scott Austin of The Wall Street Journal writes, “‘Mike will run the fund and will continue to write for TechCrunch, but will have no editorial oversight,’ said AOL spokesman Mario Ruiz. Erick Schonfeld, who has served as co-editor in New York, will become interim editor while AOL searches for a replacement for Arrington, Ruiz said.

“It’s not immediately clear the fate of AOL’s venture capital arm, AOL Ventures, which has made recent seed investments in start-ups such as spam-defense company Imperium and price-tracking service Shopobot.

“Arrington’s new fund, called CrunchFund, closed today with $20 million, according to people familiar with the situation. AOL leads the limited partner group, which includes a long roster of venture firms that kicked in $1 million each: Austin Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Several individuals contributed money as well, including Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, general partners at Benchmark Capital, angel investors Ron Conway and Kevin Rose, and Yuri Milner, founder of Russian firm DST Global.

“Arrington’s partner in the fund is Patrick Gallagher, who has been a partner at VantagePoint Capital Partners since 2008.”

Read more here.

NYTimes names deputy tech editor

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

New York Times business editor Larry Ingrassia and technology editor Damon Darlin made the following staff announcement on Thursday:

We are pleased to announce that Quentin Hardy, executive editor for Forbes Media, is joining the New York Times as a deputy technology editor in the San Francisco bureau.

Quentin, one of the most creative chroniclers of Silicon Valley, will play a key role in our expanding online technology coverage. He will be working alongside Nick Bilton, our lead Bits blogger, contributing to both the conception and the execution of our coverage and extending the voice and authority of the Bits blog, one of the Times’s most frequently visited blogs. Quentin will also be contributing to the technology coverage of the print edition.

Quentin has been covering the Valley for 17 years, first for the Wall Street Journal where he wrote about the cellphone industry and produced some of the paper’s most delightful “a-heds” on Silicon Valley culture.

Quentin also reported on the Japanese banking crisis and market collapse while in the Journal’s Tokyo bureau from 1991 to 1994. He went to Japan in 1988 to work at AP/Dow Jones covering Asian energy markets and natural resources.

Quentin is a graduate of Kenyon College and has a Masters degree from the University of London. He was awarded a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in 1995 and his Forbes cover story, “Hope and Profit in Africa,” received a citation from The Overseas Press Club.

Quentin has also appeared on “Forbes on Fox,” a weekly business news show on Fox News Channel, and he lectures at the iSchool of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. Quentin, his wife Vanessa and their two boys live in Berkeley.

Please join us in welcoming Quentin to the Times.

The Verge strikes deal with Washington Post to provide tech coverage

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Joshua Topolsky, former Engadget editor-in-chief and founding editor-in-chief of The Verge, will now write a weekly technology column in the Washington Post as part of a partnership between the paper and the website, according to a news release.

The column will appear online Wednesdays and in the paper each Thursday — the day of the week consumers have grown accustomed to reading about new technology releases. It will focus on technology culture, trends and reviews.

In addition, in the coming months, reporters from The Verge will contribute several articles a day to washingtonpost.com. The Verge is the latest partner to join The Post’s technology and business section — a roster that includes Bloomberg News and TechCrunch. These partnerships contribute to The Post’s concentration on the intersection between technology, policy and business.

“The Verge offers a wealth of ideas, fresh perspective and experience in covering technology issues,” said Greg Schneider, national economy and business editor of the Post, in a statement. “This collaboration adds their expertise to The Washington Post’s robust coverage of technology policy and company trends.”

Topolsky’s column launched Wednesday. A leading voice in technology reporting, Topolsky has assembled an all-star team of personal technology writers at The Verge. He is the resident tech expert on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg TV, and G4′s “Attack of the Show. “

“As we seek to build the premier brand in technology media, we can think of no better or more appropriate partner than The Washington Post, one of journalism’s greatest brands and institutions,” said Topolsky in a statement. “I am looking forward to sharing my passion for technology with The Washington Post’s broad readership at a time when the cultural influence and accessibility of personal technology has never been greater.”

Read more here.

New Bloomberg TV show to feature tech startups

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Rip Empson of TechCrunch reports that a new show on Bloomberg Television called “TechStars” will show the process of how new tech companies go from ideas to operating ventures.

Empson writes, “David Tisch, Managing Director of TechStars in NYC and David Cohen, Founder and CEO of TechStars, who are both featured in the show, tell me that viewers can expect a real glimpse into what it’s like to be a TechStars company: ‘Everything is 100 percent real and representative’ of what it’s like to be a part of the incubator.

“TechStars had been approached by several networks looking to do reality-type shows on the incubator, but ultimately chose Bloomberg TV, they said, for the reasons cited above. They wanted it to be an objective, fact-based series that captured the actual essence of what it’s like to be a founder going through an incubator, rather than something that’s over-produced and skewed in favor of dramatization. Bloomberg seemed the right fit.

“Of course, that being said, both Cohen and Tisch assured me that there will be some drama — startup drama, of course. Yes, there will be a few pivots. But, not to overstate: This will hopefully be an ‘objective’ look at what it’s like taking an idea to execution, developing a workable business model, finding users, and discovering the best way to pitch to investors.”

Read more here.