Michael Arrington is out at AOL. For Real. After presenting his ultimatum, AOL has fired the TechCrunch editor, reports Fortune's Dan Primack. "Not TechCrunch editor. Not AOL Ventures employee. Michael Arrington is on his own." After a week-long saga, which began when Arrington announced that he was starting an AOL-backed venture fund, Arrington's status at the media company, which bought his popular blog last year, was suspect. We've chronicled the ups-and-downs, and now it seems TechCrunch as we knew it has come to an end. Or has it? With Arrington's reported ousting, the fates of Arrington, TechCrunch and AOL are all still very much up in the air.
Is he even really out? Given the volatility of the situation--Arrington's status has changed at least four times over the week--it's very likely that AOL could waver on its positioning, points out VentureBeat's Matthew Lynley. "But AOL has been so wishy-washy, there’s no telling what will happen now." Also, Fortune has the only story reporting the news, and even Primack, who was "led to believe the decision is final," admits it wouldn't surprise him if AOL reversed their positioning.
TechCrunch can continue just fine without Arrington. So AOL no longer employs Arrington, the popular blog will continue to dominate as long as it can keep its audience, tone and writers. TechCrunch's success relies on its scoops, which tech companies decide to leak to the blog because of its large and loyal audience. If AOL can keep those eyes, even without Arrington, TechCrunch will continue its dominance. But the people come because of the blog's swag argues AVC's Fred Wilson. "But TechCrunch also has a voice, a swagger, a 'fuck you' attitude that comes from Mike. That can also live on without Mike if AOL allows it. They need to keep the remaining team, the voice, and that attitude if they want to remain at the top of the world of tech media." Arrington, of course, embodies said swagger. Yet, one person--even a big ego like Arrington--can't bring down an entire irreverent empire.