AOL to TechCrunch's Arrington: You've Got Mail - A Pink Slip

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There has been a considerable amount of drama emanating from technology companies over the past few weeks, with two companies popular in a bygone era dominating headlines. Officials from AOL ( AOL ) and Yahoo! Inc. ( YHOO ) recently found themselves subject to the whims of a scandal-obsessed culture, providing just the right mix of callousness and imprudence to really get my blood pressure boiling. 

AOL - yes, it still exists - purchased last year the exceedingly popular technology blog TechCrunch, founded by Michael Arrington for a reported $30 million. AOL then announced last week Arrington was forming a venture capital fund to finance some of the startups that TechCrunch writers cover, with AOL investing a reported $8 million in the venture. Arrington would step down as co-editor, the company said, but would still write for his brainchild.

A public outcry ensued, led by journalists who questioned whether Arrington should be writing about the very companies he would also have a financial stake in. Fair enough.

However, AOL officials, who had previously failed to find ethical issues with the setup, illustrated how a little criticism goes a long way when your company has fought to regain relevancy for the past 12 years.

Arrington was subsequently abandoned by AOL , with the corporate drama unfolding in an altogether bizarre and real-time manner. 

Enter Arianna Huffington, who sold her Huffington Post blog to AOL earlier in the year and was promoted to the top editorial position at the company. Huffington, who has her fair share of critics among journalists, seemingly backtracked on AOL's prior stance, with reports suggesting she later pushed for Arrington's ouster.

Through a series of increasingly erratic and tenuous announcements - and non-announcements - AOL has, for all intents and purposes, fired Arrington, Fortune reports AOL ultimately axed Arrington after all the media attention reflected poorly on the organization.

Arrington contends he was left in the dark regarding the goings-on behind the scenes at AOL, and on Monday he finally confirmed at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 that he is leaving the company. An article TechCrunch published last week essentially stated Arrington had been forced out, but its author, MG Sielger, stood firmly behind the blog's deposed leader .

Like the plot of a Hollywood movie come to life, Arrington was baited, lulled into a false sense of security and subsequently excoriated. The public nature of the controversy merely underscores how even superstar employees are often left at the mercy of their mercurial employers.

The trend is unfortunately pervasive. 

AOL has remained mum on the controversy, but Bloomberg reported Friday the company is in talks to potentially merge with Yahoo! Inc. , the same company that last week fired chief executive Carol Bartz via a phone call.

Birds of a feather.




 



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: News Headlines , Business , Technology , US Markets

Referenced Stocks: AOL , YHOO

Michael Bordieri


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