AOL: Arrington out at TechCrunch; Schonfeld named new editor

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

After two weeks of speculation and some radio silence, AOL released a statement on Monday confirming TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington has left the company to focus on the venture capitalist fund that sparked the controversy in the first place.

Erick Schonfeld, Arrington's co-editor and TechCrunch staffer since 2007, will succeed him, AOL said.

Here is AOL's statement:

The TechCrunch acquisition has been a success for AOL and for our shareholders, and we are very excited about its future. Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch has decided to move on from TechCrunch and AOL to his newly formed venture fund. Michael is a world-class entrepreneur and we look forward to supporting his new endeavor through our investment in his venture fund. Erick Schonfeld has been named the editor of TechCrunch. TechCrunch will be expanding its editorial leadership in the coming months.

The announcement comes on the day TechCrunch Disrupt, the site's signature, three-day conference, is set to begin in San Francisco.

Last week, TechCrunch columnist Paul Carr threatened to resign unless Arrington was allowed to choose his successor.

"TechCrunch lives or dies on its editorial independence," Carr wrote. "Right now, that means TechCrunch--in the person of its founding editor--must be allowed to pick its next editor-in-chief. Arianna Huffington has made clear that she wants Mike gone and TechCrunch to be assimilated into Huffington Post, under her direct control.

"That means whoever she might pick as 'editor' will be little more than an avatar for her; a cardboard cut-out installed to do her bidding," Carr continued. "That's so ridiculously unacceptable a situation that the idea makes me feel physically sick. It will be the death of TechCrunch and everything we've all worked for these past years."

It's unclear if Arrington chose Schonfeld; a spokeswoman for AOL declined to comment further.

However, it appears that AOL will fulfill its financial commitment to Arrington's CrunchFund.

"AOL will maintain its initial investment in Michael Arrington's fund," AOL chief Tim Armstrong wrote in his weekly memo to staffers. "And AOL Ventures will oversee our investment in the fund."

When the venture was first announced, Armstrong said the company invested about $10 million in CrunchFund, and that it would operate as a separate entity from AOL Ventures, a similar fund operated by AOL.