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TechCrunch Founder Speaks Out About AOL Acquisition

A "tired" Mike Arrington pledges to stay on and ensure that the TechCrunch DNA survives @AOL

So TechCrunch, founded on June 11, 2005 by Michael Arrington, was acquired yesterday - September 28, 2010 - by AOL. In announcing the acquisition - on TechCrunch itself, naturally! - AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong wrote, in addition to saying that the TC acquisition was "a great complement to our continued investment in world class content, that "I’m sure founder Michael Arrington will have a few words to say as well."

Well, true to form, Arrington (pictured) did.

The TechCrunch founder, who moved to Seattle earlier this year to achieve a bit more balance in his life after five years of incessant activity in Silicon Valley, described in a relatively brief post how Armstrong had already mentioned back in May that AOL would love to buy TechCrunch.

The make-or-break factor for AOL, Arrington recounts, was whether he as Founder and guiding spirit, would stay on.

Here is how he characterizes his state of mind at the time, and their discussions:

"The truth is I was tired. But I wasn’t tired of writing, or speaking at events. I was tired of our endless tech problems, our inability to find enough talented engineers who wanted to work, ultimately, on blog and CrunchBase software. And when we did find those engineers, as we so often did, how to keep them happy. Unlike most startups in Silicon Valley, the center of attention at TechCrunch is squarely on the writers. It’s certainly not an engineering driven company.

AOL of course fixes that problem perfectly. They run the largest blogging network in the world and if we sold to them we’d never have to worry about tech issues again. We could focus our engineering resources on higher end things and I, for one, could spend more of my day writing and a lot less time dealing with other stuff.

The more we spoke with AOL the more we saw a perfect fit."

By "we" Arrington means of course himself and his CEO, Heather Harde. "From a product and business standpoint," Arrington reiterated, "it’s a perfect fit."

And so the deal - terms as yet undisclosed but to the north of $30M according to most estimates - was struck.

Let's leave the final word on post-acquisition continuity to Arrington himself:

"So we begin another journey. I fully intend to stay with AOL for a very, very long time. And the entire team has big incentives to stay on board for at least three years."

As they say, three years in Internet time is about 30 years in the non-Internet world. So that is quite a commitment!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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