TechCrunch Bought by AOL – So What’s the Negative Factor?

(Note: This is old news.) A while ago TechCrunch sold itself to AOL. TechCrunch did it to outsource promotion and technical support.

Michael Arrington, TechCrunch founder: The truth is I was tired. But I wasn’t tired of writing, or speaking at events. I was tired of our endless tech problems, our inability to find enough talented engineers who wanted to work, ultimately, on blog and CrunchBase software. And when we did find those engineers, as we so often did, how to keep them happy. Unlike most startups in Silicon Valley, the center of attention at TechCrunch is squarely on the writers. It’s certainly not an engineering-driven company.

He made sure the soul of TechCrunch would not be compromised, especially in these areas::

  • Independence
  • Neutrality
  • Employment

What does AOL get in return? Well, it needs something to anchor itself in reality. "Oh, it's TechCrunch’s owner" is not the greatest way to be remembered, but it still beats being forgotten.

Sarah Silverman: @SteveCase You should be nicer to the last person on earth w an aol account.

So that was a match made in heaven? Not so much. A mere two days later, the very same Michael Arrington made this statement: He cannot work under their conditions (sarcastically, of course):

Total number of internal TechCrunch meetings in the five years prior to AOL Acquisition: 1

I’m not even sure our AOL acquisition has legally closed yet. But today we celebrate our new corporate overlords with…an internal all hands. EVP David Eun, Heather’s new boss, scheduled a whopping 3.5 hour all hands meeting today starting at 11. Everyone’s here in the office pretending like it’s perfectly normal to be awake and in the office at this ridiculous hour. And God help us if news breaks, because we’ll all be in the conference room acting out a Dilbert cartoon.

 Looks like they were too busy crossing the items in the prenuptial agreement, while ignoring the existence of…cultural differences.

It reminds me of a story about the acquisition of IDEO, the world-famous design house, by SteelCase, one of the biggest office furniture companies. IDEO designs, Steelcase makes and sells. Perfect? No – what I heard from a person close to the source was as follows: Instead of IDEO's creativity adding spice to SteelCase's business mind, bureaucracy and rigidity were infiltrating the design house.

We tend to forget that collaboration is about changing as well as adding to each other. You can't simply add your partner's strength to your existing expertise. You change, as well as your partner. You can't pretend it's like adding an optional module onto your computer. It is more like switching your OS.

P.S. Maybe Michael Arrington couldn't see it coming because he was too detached from how the world outside his kingdom works. One meeting in five years?