One of the hottest media acquisitions of 2010 was AOL's purchase of the Silicon Valley news blog TechCrunch. Founded by Michael Arrington, the site is second to none for breaking tech news, mergers & acquisitions and start-up coverage. So when the company sold itself in September (for somewhere between $25-$40 million) its loyal readership worried about the company losing its edge under the weight of its new corporate overlord. Fear not, Arrington promised his readers at the time, TechCrunch would maintain complete editorial control. "The agreement we signed with AOL fully reflects this," he emphasized.
So how's TechCrunch doing? It's been almost 3 months since the acquisition and the indefatigable scoop machine continues apace. However, today we noticed an interesting little aphorism from TechCrunch staffer Sarah Lacy. The first four paragraphs of her story go like this (tell us if this sounds like venting to you):
There's a lie that companies and entrepreneurs tell themselves in order to commit to an acquisition.
"Oh, we're not going to change anything! We’re just going to give you more resources to do what you’ve been doing even better!
Yeah! They bought us for a reason, why would they ruin things?"
It usually works for a little while, but big company bureaucracy--whether it's HR, politics or just endless meetings--almost always creeps in. It’s a law of nature: Big companies just need certain processes to run and entrepreneurs hate those processes because they stifle nimble innovation.
If the coincidence here wasn't lost on you, it wasn't on us either. In the post, Lacy is referring to Google's acquisition of Slide and whether or not it would maintain a semblance of autonomy. But if the rule applies to Google one would assume it applies to AOL and TechCrunch as well. So is this a Freudian slip or an innocent observation?