On Wednesday Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag posted an article rumoring that TechCrunch is going to be bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Nicholas Carlson reports that a startup founder overheard a group of TechCrunch people celebrating the sale. It’s said that the deal is done, but that TechCrunch will not announce it until August, at the August Capital meet-up event. Another source corroborated this claim. New Corp denied it. Talks of a possible sale of the nearly 6 milion pages view monthly tech website have been going around for a while. Last week’s sale of PaidContent to the U.K.’s Guardian Media for $30 million fueled speculation that the TechCrunch founder, Michael Arrington is trying sell soon, though it might be more difficult, as he is rumored to be looking for a deal in the $100-million
The biggest hurdle to any acquisition of TechCrunch, according to Valleywag, is Arrington himself. News Corp’s Fox Interactive’s chief Peter Levinsohn is said to strongly dislike Arrington. “[T]he biggest problem with an Arrington deal is, well, Arrington. Recent rumors had AOL acquiring TechCrunch for $30 million. That deal didn't go forward, we're hearing, because AOL worried about Arrington's mental stability and doubted whether the brand would survive if the mercurial blogger left. As one prospective buyer put it: 'We're worried about buying it and him leaving, and we're worried about buying it and him staying.' Before being acquired by CBS, CNET, too, took a long look at TechCrunch, only to decide too much of its value was tied up in the volatile blogger.”
This sounds like the old Barry Bonds problem – sure, he’ll probably produce, and sure, he’ll probably make you some money, but do you want to deal with the baggage he brings with him?
The Valleywag article floats-then-denies the rumor, making it sort of an ‘anti-rumor.’ But the seed has been planted, and the internet’s been a-chatter ever since. Arrington is rumored to want to retire from TechCrunch, moving to Hawaii, although sources say he's been spending some time up in Tahoe. It’s not certain how the site will do without its branded editor.