Where does Michael Arrington, founder of AOL-owned TechCrunch, work? Possibly AOL, probably not TechCrunch, but no one really knows for certain.
We’ve reached out to AOL directly to find out what’s going on, but haven’t heard back yet. Probably because they don’t even know what’s going on. Here’s a sampling of all the different things we’re hearing around the Web about Arrington’s relationship with TechCrunch and AOL:
Arrington on Thursday: “I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me. There’s no way around it.”
Arianna Huffington, the president and editor-in-chief of AOL’s media division, AOL Huffington Post Media Group, on Friday morning: Arrington no longer works for TechCrunch.
Mario Ruiz, spokesperson for AOL Huffington Post, on Friday morning: Arrington is "not employed by AOL" anymore.
Maureen Sullivan, AOL SVP of corporate communications, on Friday morning: Arrington is working for AOL Ventures but, as Huffington said, he no longer works for TechCrunch or AOL HuffingtonPost.
TechCrunch: Arrington is founder and co-editor.
What a mess.
The best part? CrunchFund, Arrington’s $20 million tech fund raised from pretty much every important venture capital group you can name, may have just lost its most valuable strategic asset: access to TechCrunch to facilitate deal flow.
On Friday morning, Sullivan said "AOL is not comfortable with TechCrunch being used as an access point for deal flow.”
That’s nice of them, considering that AOL Ventures has already invested $10 million in the fund. It’s nice that they’re making some sort of effort to maintain the editorial integrity of their media group but, on the other hand, all those VCs and angels, from A(ccel Partners) to Y(uri Milner) may not be so interested in the fund without that crucial element. (For the full list of investors, see Faith’s article on CrunchFund here.)
Based on Arrington’s history in startup investing, which Faith talks about in her article, there’s no way CrunchFund is going away. It definitely feels just like a natural extension of the TechCrunch founder’s investing efforts.
What his editorial position will be at AOL and TechCrunch, however, is still a complete puzzle. No one at AOL seems to be able to confirm. We expect that Huffington, the one heading AOL’s media group, will eventually clear the air with a complete statement.