Tag Archives: Technology coverage

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).”

Read more here.

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.

Tech journalists and the Murdoch hearings

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Dan Mitchell of SFWeekly wonders why many tech and business journalists are spending so much time covering the News Corp. phone hacking hearings in England.

Mitchell writes, “I’ll give media reporters a pass, I suppose (and yet, even there, what’s the point?). But why are general business columnists and bloggers, technology journalists, and U.S. political writers spending their mornings hijacking my tech-news Twitter feed?

“Some of my favorite writers are doing this — Felix Salmon, who covers finance. Larry Magid, who covers geeky tech stuff, and even Jim Fallows, who writes about a wide variety of subjects including China, Microsoft, and the Obama Administration. The technology site AllThingsD (run by Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal) is live-blogging the hearings, as if they were on a par with John Dean revealing the crimes committed by the Nixon Administration.

“Blogger Kara Swisher is even calling the scandal (ugh) ‘PhoneGate.’

“To some degree, I suppose, people are simply doing this because they can. Twitter, for example, is still a new mode of dissemination, and much of this is simply people playing around with it to see how it should be used. I would guess that in five years, if Twitter or something like it still exists, there will be relatively little ‘live-tweeting’ of relatively mundane events.

“Still. All that’s happening here is that a couple of execs are lying and covering their asses. It’s news, but it’s not earth-shattering news. Certainly, having tech reporters whose usual beats are Cisco and Google cover it is more than a bit of a stretch. But clearly, ‘the Internet’ is ‘reacting’ to it, so.”

Read more here.

New editor at PCMag.com

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Dan Costa, the executive editor of PCMag.com, has been named its editor, replacing Lance Ulanoff, who is leaving the online tech magazine that stopped publishing in print in 2009.

Costa writes, “After a few years of freelancing, I got a full-time job at PC Magazine. Michael J. Miller was the Editor in Chief. Michael read every word published in the magazine, and whether it was a printer review or an interview with an industry executive, he found something that everyone had missed. I’m proud to say that Michael still posts his insights and opinions on PCMag.com, at his Forward Thinking blog.

Jim Louderback took over as Editor in Chief after Michael. Jim brought an incredible amount of energy to the publication, but to say he only brought energy is to dismiss Jim’s incredible intellect. He knew great stories, great story telling, and was an excellent editor. He also helped PCMag expand into video, a medium that Jim loved. He left to be the CEO of Revision3, which is creating some of the most innovative Internet television online today.

“Jim handed the reigns over to Lance Ulanoff, my boss and mentor at PCMag.com. Lance needs no introduction, of course. You can read a part of his PCMag legacy here. Suffice to say he has taught me a ton about media, technology, and how to reboot a robot vacuum when there is no reset button (just pop the battery).

“My point, I suppose, is that being Editor-in-Chief of PCMag is a big deal. Ziff Davis hasn’t always had an easy go of it, but having seen a little bit of where PCMag.com and all of our other properties, including Geek.com, the newly relaunched ExtremeTech.com, and our various blogs, are heading, I am enormously excited about the company’s future. Our staff of analysts, writers, and editors are the best in the business.”

Read more here.

WSJ seeking Apple reporter

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Wall Street Journal deputy managing editor Matt Murray sent out the following announcement to the staff on Monday:

We are looking to fill one of the most important, and toughest, beats at the Journal: Covering Apple.

This is a job for an experienced, demonstrated news breaker and creative sourcer of the highest caliber. The successful candidate must be able to get inside a secretive company and report on everything from future products and corporate strategies to the trends Apple is leading in computers and mobile devices, as well as how people are consuming digital entertainment, media and technology.

The candidate would be covering Apple during a particularly crucial period. Even as Apple has become the world’s most valuable tech company — and might soon exceed Exxon as the world’s most valuable company — CEO Steve Jobs remains on medical leave. The reporter must address a possible leadership transition with sensitivity and care, as well as the increasing scrutiny Apple faces from regulators and the multiple battles — legal and turf-wise — with rivals like Google, Amazon and Samsung.

The beat is fast-paced and highly competitive. The ability to collaborate with other reporters covering telecoms, media, entertainment, management, government and technology across bureaus worldwide is a must, as is demonstrated skill at writing quickly and cleanly. The position is based in San Francisco.