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AOL has named Erick Schonfield as the new editor of popular US technology blog TechCrunch. The announcement puts an end to days of controversy and uncertainty around the fate of site founder Michael Arrington.
Much of the controversy arose after Arrington announced that he would be launching a US$20-million Venture Capital fund called CrunchFund. The fund would back some of the startups TechCrunch had previously written about. A number of commentators, however, felt that this represented a breach of journalistic ethics and a violation of AOL’s own policy.
Despite overwhelming support from his staff, Arrington has agreed to “move on” from TechCrunch and focus solely on CrunchFund, according a statement made by AOL.
The TechCrunch parent company announced Arrington’s fate just moments before the start of the site’s renowned Disrupt San Francisco conference, which features presentations from a number of startups.
“Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch has decided to move on from TechCrunch and AOL to his newly formed venture fund,” AOL spokeswoman Maureen Sullivan said.
“Michael is a world-class entrepreneur and we look forward to supporting his new endeavour through our investment in his venture fund,” she added.
After naming him as the new editor of TechCrunch, Sullivan gave a sense that Schonfield would not be alone in the job permanently.
“TechCrunch will be expanding its editorial leadership in the coming months,” she said.
Schonfield is ideally suited to taking up the post, having previously served as Arrington’s co-editor on the site.
Arrington appeared on stage to launch the three-day conference and addressed the controversy, which has held the attention of Silicon Valley observers for more than a week.
“It’s no longer, I think, a good situation for me to stay at TechCrunch,” he said. “I will no longer be an employee of TechCrunch or in any way an employee of AOL.I will however continue to run the CrunchFund and AOL will remain a partner of the CrunchFund and I’m actually really excited about that,” he said.
Arrington also used the platform to poke fun at his former de-facto boss, Arianna Huffington.
He unbuttoned and removed his shirt to reveal a green T-Shirt underneath. The T-shirt simply read “unpaid blogger”.
“This is the shirt I’ll be wearing this week,” Arrington said. “At one point my boss, Arianna Huffington, said I could at most be an unpaid blogger for TechCrunch and I’m now an unpaid blogger.”
AOL has renewed its commitment to US$10-million investment it was set to make in CrunchFund. The company and several of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capitalists are the primary investors in the fund.