Even TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington Thinks Startup Journalism Sucks Now


Last week, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington sounded off on the tech blog’s declining editorial standards, according to Valleywag. The tyrade, sparked by what he saw as a poor playing field at the TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin conference, hinged around two basic criticisms:

  • TechCrunch’s editorial operations are “completely submissive” to sales, and…
  • If the startups at a given Disrupt conference are weak, then the editorial team shouldn’t be forced to declare winners.

Michael Arrington, of course, was a mass of conflicts-of-interest while editor-in-chief at TechCrunch; his lax barriers between sales and editorial is the reason Arianna Huffington gave him the boot from the AOL mothership.

There was a time, in fact, where I was downright confounded by TechCrunch’s cheery P.R. rewrites and unquestioning beneficence to all things “startup.” I took great energies in trying to explain why and how the blog sucked. I’ve since given up on the endeavor; too much negativity aimed at too easy a target.

But read a few of Michael Arrington’s old posts, and one immediately understands why TechCrunch rose to such prominence. Whether or not he traded favors for blog posts, hyped up companies he also invested in, sexually assaulted ex-girlfriends, etc., Arrington can really write, and he always charged head-first into controversy. Take a cursory glance at some of his post titles — “If America Was A Startup We’d All Quit,” “I’m So Ashamed of TechCrunch Today,” “Screw the Rich (Here’s How)” — and you get a sense of just how entertaining TechCrunch used to be.

Firing Arrington from TechCrunch was like firing, say, Bill O’Reilly from “The O’Reilly Factor”…the guy was (is) an asshole, but he was the voice and hence, the value proposition for the entire editorial product. Listen to Barry Diller’s take on this for more insight.

Now TechCrunch is left with no content vision, aside from rehashing press releases, and will remain relevant only as long as the current tech bubble keeps inflating. Please note: technology and startups will always be significant…I’m just not sure TechCrunch will know how to produce the necessary “disaster journalism” when the time comes.