It's official -- AOL is buying TechCrunch. There has been an extraordinary amount of vitriol pointed at Mike Arrington as news of a potential deal seeped out onto the Web. I have no idea what motivates individuals to use the Web as a platform for hate, nor do I understand why it is that Mike has become such a lightning-rod for caustic comments, but I firmly believe that it is not deserved. Mike, Heather and the entire TechCrunch team have worked tirelessly to enhance the digital media ecosystem and we in Silicon Valley and beyond are better off for it.
What is particularly impressive is that while reporting on and promoting the startup world, Mike has managed to build his own successful startup from the ground up. I was first introduced to Mike about 5 years ago by our mutual friend Keith Teare. At the time, Mike and Keith were thinking about investing in digital media startups and, in an effort to get up to speed in the marketplace, Mike had started a blog to review various startups. Ironically, at the time, VentureBlog had been up and running for a couple years already and Mike and I talked about how he could drive traffic to his new Website. From there he was off to the races.
Over the last five years, I've had the good fortune to be involved with TechCrunch in numerous ways. I have gotten my fair share of calls from Mike grilling me about a deal that may or may not be happening. He is a persistent but fair reporter. While those calls are a pain to get, he reports what he learns, not what he suspects. My firm, August Capital, has also had the pleasure of hosting TechCrunch's summer gatherings on our Sand Hill Road patio for several years. The TechCrunch parties have done a great service for the startup community, giving its members an opportunity to meet up and exchange ideas while enjoying a drink or two (or three). And I have periodically appeared on TechCrunchTV, sharing my thoughts on company building, startup culture, etc. Those conversations have ranged from lively to insane, but they have always been fun.
I look forward to seeing how TechCrunch will continue grow and morph under the AOL banner. This is certainly a well-deserved outcome for Mike and the team. I look forward to hosting the AOL/TechCrunch event next summer and appearing on AOL/TechCrunchTV some day soon. Congratulations to everyone involved.