Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily reports that AOL is looking to unload two of its signature blog properties, Engadget and TechCrunch, after a year of messy public fights over their leadership. Lacy says the company is hoping to sell the sites, and possibly some other smaller properties, for around $70-$100 million.
Of the two sites, TechCruch has certainly had the more tumultuous history with the company. It was purchased by AOL back in 2010, and was almost immediately beset by friction between outspoken founder Michael Arrington and his new corporate higher ups. Those issues became even more pronounced when AOL added The Huffington Post to its roster in 2011 and installed Arianna Huffington as his new boss. Arrington was eventually pushed out (with most of the site's best editors quickly following him) after a dispute over his own venture capital fund that would supply money to companies TechCrunch is supposed to be reporting on.
As for Engadget, the machine-focused site, was the key plank in AOL's acquisition of Weblogs, Inc. back in 2005. For years, it has been one of the most widely read blogs on the web, but almost the entire editorial team left the site to form a new venture last year. While the name recognition and large readership still carry a lot of weight for both properties, the loss of the writers and editors that made them such popular daily reads has certainly hurt their influence and (most likely) the asking price. While a sale would make a nice little profit for AOL and cement Huffington's media group as the only one that matters inside the company, it's hard to imagine who would make the effort to pay for them.
The news broke hours before this morning's earning call when AOL beat revenue expectations, but as Peter Kafka points out, showed sluggish growth in the ad business and a big four percent drop in traffic over the last year.
Update (11:30 a.m.): For what it's worth, when discussing AOL's earning this morning CEO Tim Armstrong said the sale report was "100 percent untrue." He added more to PaidContent, saying: "We don’t have any interest in selling TechCrunch or Engadget." Our number one goal basically has been to scale them up. At this point, it’s likely we’ll just end up investing ourselves.” As of yet, PandoDaily hasn't backed off.