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 (
) and Yahoo! Inc. (
) 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
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
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
that he is leaving the company. An article TechCrunch published
last week essentially stated Arrington had been forced out, but its
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
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.