Arrington hints Techcrunch could be up for sale as five year itch bites
Speaking at an event in Seattle yesterday TechCrunch’s founder and owner, Arrington, suggested that the changing nature of the market, where firms like Yahoo! and AOL among others are placing a premium on content, had promoted a rethink.
According to the blog TechFlash, which reported the encounter at its TechFlash Town Hall Summit, the suggestion that he could be ready to sell follows earlier speculation that Arrington who had recently moved to Seattle had partly done so because of tax laws in Washington State.
In a back and forth conversation with co-founder of digital agency Jackson Fish Market, Hillel Cooperman, Arrington said his long term plan had once been to build up and grow TechCrunch in the long term as investor capital in online content businesses had once been hard to come by. Not anymore.
“It’s been five years, and I gotta tell ya, I’m ready — ready to take that money, whether it’s a success or not, and then see ya later, and then never talk to anybody in this community again,” Arrington said.
Some have suggested that Arrington has been trying to sell for years with ‘The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs’ saying: “The truth is, Arrington been trying to sell TechCrunch for years — at least since 2007 when he hired Heather Harde, an M&A guru from Fox Interactive, and named her CEO of TechCrunch. Back in those days Mike was full of talk about that big “liquidity event” that was right around the corner. Supposedly all the big brands were coming to him and begging him to sell. Now it’s three years later and he still can’t unload the thing.”
I’m still betting Techcrunch could attract a significant multimillion dollar price tag. The market has changed and the interest in profitable content sites has never been higher as their unique users continue to rise. The rise of social media, of sharing and Twitter, has also significantly increased the reach of blogs of like Techcrunch. Blogs sit at the heart of social media. Shortened links have become Twitter currency .
The significant price will attract buyers with deep pockets with the likes of AOL and Yahoo! both almost certain to be interested.
Those two internet firms have both been building up their content businesses. Yahoo! recently paid $100m. It has also been making a lot of editorial hires. Last week it Yahoo! hired former Defamer editor Mark Lisanti as deputy editor of its new entertainment blogs and it is currently looking to hire a blog editor for Yahoo! finance who it says will run a small team specialising in “business news targeted at both sophisticated and mass-market audiences.
AOL has been doing the same as it reshapes its business to focus on content. Yesterday’s reported sale of Bebo was part of that. AOL was recently reported to be hiring hundreds of editorial staff to expand Patch, which it hopes to grow from 30 sites to hundreds by the end of this year.
Techcrunch is not the only top ten blog to get the five year itch. It was recently reported that rival blog Mashable could also be up for sale and the buyer linked to a possible deal was Yahoo!.
The two were said to be in talks about a possible sale or an advertising partnership. Like Techcrunch, Mashable was part of the class of 2005, which also included the Huffington Post among others, and has gone on to become one of the top ten biggest blogs in the world.
It last year surpassed Techcrunch to become the world’s biggest tech blog. It is exactly the kind of content that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong would like to see as part of his company and if can’t have it Techcrunch offers an attractive alternative.