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Michael Arrington launching venture fund (cnn.com)
101 points by taylorbuley on Sept 1, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 48 comments

I might disagree with certain aspects of YC, but one of the things I respect most about PG himself is his skill and finesse in keeping the program fun and relatively low-drama.

Arrington ... not so much. He seems earnest, but the thought of being part of an Arrington fund feels a lot like participating in a reality show. TechCrunch seems to brew a tempest in a teacup about twice a year; how would that not affect their investments?

There's room for all sorts. I'm sure he has his own strengths to bring to the table. Besides, not everyone goes for the skill, the finesse, the low-drama, and I think that's ok.

> not everyone goes for the skill, the finesse, the low-drama, and I think that's ok

The way you say it makes it sound like a veiled insult.

I assure you that was not my intention.

I would kill to have Arrington involved in my startup. I'd want him simply for his knowledge of how press works, ignoring the fact that he has such a long history of seeing and reporting on how startups are doing - and his network must be insane at this point. Can you imagine what a seal it must be to have Arrington invest in you?

Who cares if he has or has not created drama? I actually think his ability to report on news regardless of the fact a lot of the subjects are his friends, shows a huge amount of integrity - and I know that Hacker News hates him - but still, he could easily be as trashy as Gizmodo but he has managed to do it whilst remaining mostly neutral to his network. Impressive.

Agree completely. I actually find his posts on TC the most rewarding.

All the other TC writers come across as childish pushing out the PR agenda of the latest startups. Very little originality or reporting.

To be fair to the other writers, they have to write several posts each day. In the last year or so, Mike has only written on "big stories.", which are few and far apart.

A little more shoeleather would serve TC well.

Somewhat related, I found Arrington's talk at Startup School '08 to be pretty good for getting an idea of how he views the startup tech press.


"You know you’re in a bubble when… tech journalists join startups – Bye Steve!"


So what are you in when tech editors fund startups?

If I'm not mistaken, Michael Moritz of Sequioa was a journalist turned investor. Who knows if Arrington will have similar success, but it's possible.

Also, Om Malik is a partner at True Ventures.

really weird that nobody mentions that, while this is a huge story

Maybe this will be a huge story for a week and then people will adjust.

Keep in mind, he was an attorney first. Attorneys founding or investing in startups aren't that bad a sign.[1]

1. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thiel

Who even thinks TechCrunch still has any shred of objectivity? Let's face it, the days of objective reporting are gone for TechCrunch.

We have to start looking at TechCrunch as the conduit of PR coming from the valley rather than real news. Then I think everyone can chill and just accept TC for what it is and forget the expectations.

When did Techcrunch ever have objectivity? When did they ever claim to?

you live in a fantasy world if you think any media has any objectivity

The New York Times has actual quotes from Arrington and Tim Armstrong: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/02/technology/michael-arringt...

Arrington: 'I don’t claim to be a journalist,' Mr. Arrington said, though he breaks news and writes prolifically. 'I hold myself to higher standards of transparency and disclosure.'

Armstrong (could have been more careful with his phrasing): 'TechCrunch is a different property and they have different standards', said Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, in an interview. 'We have a traditional understanding of journalism with the exception of TechCrunch, which is different but is transparent about it.'

Arrington's value as an investor is clear while he is at TechCrunch. Once he loses that megaphone, what value would he bring?

Yes he has relationships but I'd suspect many folks are 'friends' with Arrington to either (1) get TC coverage or (2) avoid his wrath if they're doing something that might be perceived as shady. Do those relationships survive his departure from TC? My gut says no as based on reputation, he doesn't seem a warm & cuddly guy people would want to help just cuz he's a good dude.

Arrington's influence as a writer does not rely entirely on him being at TC. If he started "ArringtonOnTech.com", HN and Reddit would still link to him.

I would have assumed that the AOL deal wouldn't allow Arrington to set up a competitor so soon.

I think this is a great question-- my sense is a lot of people who pay attention to him do so out of necessity of getting coverage and fear. Without Techcrunch, it will be interesting to see what is left, besides his Howard Hughesque issues.

have you actually read what he writes? He understands technology and silicon valley. He gets it. Over the years he has been privy to more information than almost anyone in the valley. There is a reason Michael & Om have the microphones they hold.

I've been reading TC for 5 years. My startups have been covered there.

My point is that there are a lot of people who "get it" in the Valley, any many of those don't have reputations as jerks.

Whatever. We'll soon find out how many hangers-on stick around now that he's resigned from TechCrunch.

Money + Connections.

So TechCrunch really isn't a news publication anymore, it's just a company blog now.

So not really all that different from Hacker News.

This type of indirect value capture will tend to happen given the economics of online publishing. Hopefully TC can put in to place a some policies that limit the impact on the publication's objectivity.

Except HN does not publish any articles. So it really is quite different from TechCrunch.

What would you count as "publishing" articles?

I find this an interesting point. In some sense, Hacker News publishes anything that can receive enough upvotes. But in another sense, YC interests are highly supported by the ecosystem.

For example, job postings for YC companies are posted like articles but without comments attached, particularly negative articles about YC startups are often (though not always) flagged by an unknown team of editors, and YC stories on TechCrunch are almost always upvoted (and are allowed to have YC in the title, leading to a signaling effect).

None of this is to suggest that anyone necessarily has any bad intentions, but rather that stories on HN do seem to be highly curated by people who may have what might be considered traditional conflicts-of-interest.

However, there is an inherent bias towards YC funded startups. A TC with bias towards Arrington funded startups would be in some weird way comparable.

"now" ?

Arrington is also an LP in SVAngel. Not listed here: http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/27/an-update-to-my-investment-...

But it is listed here: http://www.crunchbase.com/person/michael-arrington

SVAngel co invests with all YC companies.

"Oh dear," says TechCrunch's journalistic integrity and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.

That didn't happen when AOL bought them?

We reported on this back in July...YC discussion thread here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2768953

This is the 'funny' part for me:

"Such moves reportedly violated AOL's code of employee conduct, but Arrington received an exemption."

Back when Sarbanes-Oxley regulations were all the rage, the 'code of conduct' was something the CEO and everyone else 'signed off on' (literally) on penalty of perjury, that employees and management adhered to the stated code. The idea was that not only were they swearing to follow the rules, there was a way to criminally prosecute them if they did not. Some investor backlash from the abuses in the dot-com bubble. In that context the definition of 'exemption' is 'no longer employed here.' :-)

So AOL has gone on record saying that its the 'mostly' code of conduct which some folks don't actually have to follow. So where does that fall on the Sarbanes-Oxley scale? Is this a shareholder lawsuit waiting to happen? I hope not for Michael's sake.

So how hard is it to decide what to work on? Some careers don't have a lot of overlap, things like 'arms dealer' and 'diplomat', really hard to do both. Michael, if you're reading this, and I know you are since you read HN, I advise you to choose and then let the other one go. It will save you so much pain down the road.

Wait did CNN get the scoop on that before Techcrunch? lol

TC must have been honoring an embargo.

Ironic that this news is coming from CNN, where is the Techcrunch post?

The story is actually from Fortune magazine (which lives on the cnn.com domain). I presume that Arrington didn't post about it on TechCrunch because he may not have been ready to make the announcement yet, if the news is in fact true.

From the linked article: Neither Arrington nor AOL responded to requests for comment. Gallagher said "no comment" when reached via phone.

In April, he wrote: "in a few months, there’s a very good chance that I’ll be a direct or indirect investor in a lot of the new startups in Silicon Valley"


Why is it ironic? It's the finance and money column of a news outlet, and this is financial news.

Because it didn't go up on TC first, since they should have been the first to know.

They probably were but just didn't announce it.

Yes there is a great deal of irony in standard business practices. No irony intended.

My gut tells me that he's trying to get fired. He was already sort of burnt out from the website, and honestly after the AOL deal went though I could never imagine him answering to Huffington (I mean can you picture that?). I also don't see the creative challenge for him to stay there, it's not like they'd let him build new sites and there isn't much room to do innovation on an existing site within the confines of AOL. Unless this is part of some AOL business plan I can't see him being there after next Friday...

Well I was wrong — he just resigned!

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