Is TechCrunch Following the Aol Way Into Oblivion?

I rarely, if ever, write about other blogs. As you know, if it weren’t for those blogs we wouldn’t have much to write about so for that I am very grateful.

What is interesting though is watching TechCrunch as it goes from Silicon Valley powerhouse to an era of the great exodus of familiar faces. The latest change is at the top (yet again) as Erick Schonfeld is gone as editor-in-chief and replaced by Eric Eldon. Maybe the Eric without the “k” will be more quick and nimble sans one consonant? I don’t know.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington laments the continued musical chairs at his former baby. Over at his uncrunched blog he writes

I’m exceptionally bummed that so many people have left TechCrunch. Of the top ten all time tech writers according to TechMeme, six were from TechCrunch: myself, MG Siegler, Erick Schonfeld, Leena Rao, Jason Kincaid and Robin Wauters.

Of that group, only Leena remains at TechCrunch. And many other stars have left as well – Paul Carr, Sarah Lacy, Vaughn Brown, Heather Harde and Greg Kumparak.

Change is inevitable in life, right? But the rapid rate of change at TechCrunch since Aol bought it oh so long ago (September of 2010) is startling. Arrington has theories on why that happened as well and he states it a way that only he can.

In the old days of TechCrunch we were pretty good at deflecting the constant gripes from the old school press and the mobs they occasionally kicked into existence.

TechCrunch still has to deal with that, but in the modern era they also have to watch their back, because they have a very touchy psychopath conducting a musical chairs to the death game with them right now.

A very touchy psychopath? That kind of statement might be enough to make Arianna’s well-coiffed hair curl on the spot! In all honesty, she doesn’t come off as a particularly likable person. I say that from a public persona point of view only since I have never met her personally and most likely will never have that chance. Oh well!

So while the staffing changes continue at one of the seminal blogs of this new tech era, the real problem lies in the plummeting traffic as reported by paidContent.org (GigaOm’s newly acquired playmate).

TechCrunch, the long-time darling of the digerati, is smashed to bits and all of AOL’s horses and men will be hard-pressed to put it together again. The site has lost almost every one of its top writers and traffic has fallen sharply, dropping by 35 percent from a year ago.

Here is the chart that gives the not so pretty traffic picture for TechCrunch these days.

The point of this is not to pile on to the folks at TechCrunch. In fact, I hate watching people’s lives be played with, especially by someone like Huffington who has cashed out long ago and seems to be collecting power points rather than money for her kicks these days.

Watching this happen though should serve as a warning to anyone in the online space. There is no job security or popularity security. This is a fickle space and if you are not in a true position of power there are no guarantees of anything. Even those in positions of power (like Arrington at TechCrunch) aren’t safe.

I am sure that everyone leaving TechCrunch will land on their feet and stick the landing. As for those that are there trying to right a listing ship? I can offer my best wishes and prayers that the blog either finds itself fully upright again or they get off before it really starts to take on water.

  • AOL-Observer

    Is there a single redeeming feature of your post? The article you quote from Uncrunched is predicated on what Michael Arrington himself describes as “rumors.” It is nothing more than opinion on a personal blog whose veracity should be devalued. It certainly should not be cited as any sort of fact. Then you make outrageously unfounded statements about Arianna Huffington when you have zero direct contact with her, her staff, or the company she operates. “She doesn’t come off as a particularly likable person.” Seriously? Are you 12 years old? Because I know 12-year-olds who produce more meaningful and responsible content than this.

    Marketing Pilgrim never published this sort of worthless, indulgent filler when it was a one-person operation.

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      I’m curious, your IP address links back to AOL. Surely you’re not still on dial-up, so that leads us to believe that you’re an employee there. Do you care to own up?

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      @AOL – Observer. Uhhhh, OK. Unless you are seeing more glowing renderings of Ms. Huffington then I generally do, I am simply stating what I observe and read from those who did serve under her.

      As for TechCrunch, are you saying that the facts (from comScore) show it is headed in the right direction?

      • AOL-Observer

        @Frank — Here’s what your article boils down to: “Things happened at TechCrunch. I have zero direct knowledge of the people or situation. Here are some rumors. Here are my distant and worthless observations. Here’s a traffic chart researched by someone else that has already been thoroughly socialized. Now I’ll make sophomoric observations about industrial job security.” Did you get paid for this?

        @Andy — Nothing to own up to, and about 4-million people do use AOL as an ISP. Listen, I’ve been respectfully reading MP for along time, and I’m sorry to see empty writing diluting your brand. I think the reason this post pissed me off so much is that I’m not used to being disappointed when I click through your RSS feed. You’re not asking for advice, but here it is. Dump the weak talent, and don’t allow poor content out of your CMS. You’re a reputation expert. Don’t let people like me, accustomed to your quality, lose their trust in MP.

        • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

          I appreciate your concern and feedback. I will say, this is not the first time a post has appeared on MP that disappoints someone, and won’t be the last. Unlike mainstream media, we never shy away from sharing our opinions, showing our bias, or dropping some cynical comments. If you’ve read MP for a while, you would know that.

  • AOL-Observer

    Furthermore, what does The AOL Way (in your title) have to do with it? Are you just throwing around AOL-related memes to grab attention, without the slightest effort to gather them into a coherent observation?

    Don’t give up your day job. Hope this isn’t it.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    I’m closing comments on this. I had two choices. Delete the guest comments above for violating our Comment Policy (http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/comment-policy) or close comments.

    Even though the guest comments do not use a real name, and they attack the author, not the stance in the post, I will let them stand. But I don’t think anything useful will be added by keeping the comments open.