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TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington to leave AOL

Blog’s former editor to depart for new venture capital fund after spat with AOL editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington

Former TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington has left AOL less than a year after his US technology site was bought by the former internet giant.

In a statement, AOL said Arrington “decided” to leave to concentrate on his newly-formed venture capital fund, CrunchFund. AOL will remain the biggest investor in CrunchFund.

But the move comes just 10 days after Arrington and AOL became embroiled in a conflict of interest spat, in which the combative blogger issued a stern ultimatum to his AOL boss, Arianna Huffington.

Arrington has not enjoyed an easy relationship with Huffington since she was made editor-in-chief of the AOL blog network following the 5m acquisition of her Huffington Post site. On Monday night, Arrington implied that Huffington had misled people with her explanation of the row. He said on Twitter: “ok @ariannahuff. Let’s go ahead and talk about how this really played out.”

Erick Schonfeld, the longtime No 2 at TechCrunch, will take over from Arrington as editor.

AOL said in a 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 endeavour 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.”

AOL will remain the principal investor in Arrington’s CrunchFund, according to a leaked internal memo sent by AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong on Monday.

AOL has invested m in CrunchFund, with other venture capitalists – including Digg-founder Kevin Rose, Yuri Milner, Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowiz, and Accel Partners – believed to have invested about m each.

The announcement of CrunchFund 11 days ago caused a storm in the world of startups and tech blogs. Rival journalists accused the California-born entrepreneur of a lack of ethics, arguing startups whom Arrington invests in would receive preferential treatment on the influential TechCrunch.

Arrington’s departure will continue to raise questions about the future of TechCrunch at AOL, with the founder said to be tied to the website he founded six years ago. Arrington said last week: “I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me.”

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