Updated 9:24 a.m. ET, Thursday, September 15
Perhaps you thought that TechCrunch’s now two-week long meltdown would have reached some sort of conclusion, or at least a tapering-off, after Monday’s official acknowledgement from AOL that TechCrunch Founder and Editor Michael Arrington was fired.
Sadly, you’d be wrong.
The saga continued on Wednesday with Arrington’s successor Erick Schonfeld posting a short item on the blog announcing the finalists chosen to vie for the $50,000 prize money at the annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
Schonfeld, who’s been on the job less than a week now, added the following disclaimer to the bottom of his post:
“(In the spirit of disclosure, two of the companies, Bitcasa and Prism Skylabs, are CrunchFund investments, but we didn’t hold that against them. Along with the other finalists, the judges scored them the highest. The CrunchFund is Michael Arrington’s new venture fund. He was not involved in the final selection of these companies).”
The CrunchFund, of course, is the $20 million tech startup fund launched by Arrington under the wing of AOL Ventures, leading to the initial Sept. 1 report that Arrington would be stepping down from his role as the editor of TechCrunch over perceived conflicts-of-interest, though at the time AOL said he could continue in an advisory role.
Flash forward to Wednesday and Schonfeld’s post, which did not go over well with Arrington, nor TechCrunch’s outspoken Columnist Paul Carr.
Commenting below Schonfeld’s post, Arrington, who has been carrying on his duties as MC of TechCrunch regardless of the controversy (though notably with a new armed escort in tow), wrote:
Erick, I’m still an Aol employee through tomorrow (15th). Also, as you know I had significant input into this list of finalists and spoke to Heather for over an hour last night about them. My final list is somewhat different from this one, though, but we agree on four of the companies.
Please be careful making statements on my behalf. And remember that reader trust is what matters. You shouldn’t say “he was not involved in the final selection of these companies” just because it sounds nice. Since it isn’t true, you shouldn’t say it at all.
Also, going forward, I don’t know if I’ll be disclosing our investments to TechCrunch.
Meanwhile, Carr, who had previously threatened to resign from TechCrunch if Arrington wasn’t allowed to choose his own successor, began posting a succession of increasingly hostile tweets toward Schonfeld on Twitter.
“Can’t quite explain why, but seeing Erick emphasize how he picked the finalists and Mike played no part in it makes me want to punch a wall,” he tweeted.
Later, he added “For those who can’t understand why I wanted Mike to pick his successor, that is why. And so the new culture of honesty and disclosure begins.”
Schonfeld, for his part, refrained from comment on Twitter. We’ve reached out to AOL for comment on how it is handling the transition and will update when we receive a response.
Late update: Arrington announced on Twitter early Thursday that he’ll be starting a new personal blog within days, tweeting “Network effects beat IP every time,” a supremely geeky dig aimed at the unwieldy corporate structure of former employer AOL. As ever, the question remains who of the TechCrunch set, if any, will join him in his new venture, or if it will be entirely personal.
Paul Carr, for one, tweeted shortly thereafter “@arrington can I write the weekend posts on your tumblr?”