The editor of Silicon Valley's most influential news site is once again ruffling feathers in the tech space for his abrasive, cocksure temperament. It all started on Tuesday, when TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington wrote an angry article about tech entrepreneur Caterina Fake. Arrington had caught wind of a round of financing Fake was putting together for her new startup and told her that he was writing a story on it. But then she published the news herself on her blog, killing Arrington's story. That happens to reporters a lot, but Arrington went apoplectic in a TechCrunch post on Tuesday titled "Why We Often Blindside Companies" in which he explained why he lost the exclusive:
Most readers will think this is just fine. And in fact it is just fine. But this is the second time Caterina has done this, and so it’ll be the last time she ever knows we’re writing a story about her or her startups before it’s published.
And then he want to drop some gossipy morsels about that first time he thought Fake didn't deliver a scoop into Arrington's lap. It involved Fake's departure from her prior startup, Hunch. It occurred, Arrington wrote today, because of an "extremely sordid situation" that he wouldn't go into detail on because "it’s not something that should be written." Well to some, that sounded like a threat.
"In the act of saying he won't write about the details, he slyly is letting Fake know that he could," writes Mat Honan at Gizmodo. "I would take that as an implied threat... To me, it's extortion, pure and simple." Honan was not alone in feeling that way in a discussion that brought in media and tech observers. But it shouldn't really surprise anyone. Arrington's always been somewhat of a mischief maker in the blogging world. Here's a history of his recent activities:
Investing in tech companies If your a business reporter, you're not supposed to invest in the companies you're covering right? Well, not if you're Arrington. In April, Arrington damaged the credibility of his boss Arianna Huffington (AOL's editor-in-chief of content) by defying her rules about financial investments and going ahead with his own, promising to keep full disclosure.
His war with Engadget In January, Arrington slammed fellow AOL blog tech blog Engadget for its advertising in a particularly muscular blog post. "One thing big blogs don't do is buy traffic to juice up the Comscore numbers. It's an unspoken rule. It's cheating, and it brings in bad traffic that doesn't stick around or come back for the most part (or so we assume). So we're sad to see our sister blog Engadget doing just that--buying ads to pump up their Comscore rankings," he wrote. The post lured in then Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky in the comment section in a nasty fight that one blogger described as a "bar brawl that spills out into the street." Topolsky has since left AOL to begin a new tech site.
His war with Jason Calacanis In February, Arrington tried to use the influence of his website to threaten startups and advertisers and keep them from participating in a tech conference held by his longtime rival Jason Calacanis. "Two sources tell us that Arrington has tried to persuade attendees and sponsors not to participate by threatening bad or--maybe even worse in the buzz-driven industry--no coverage on TechCrunch," we reported in February.