TechCrunch goes pro: What's the deal?

TechCrunch goes pro: What’s the deal?

Michael Arrington, of TechCrunch fame, is handing over his management reigns to Heather Harde, currently the SVP of Mergers and Acquisitions at Fox Interactive Media. Harde will start her new job as CEO of the TechCrunch Network (and my boss, (Mike notes)) by the end of the month, according to TechCrunch. 

What does it mean? Harde apparently gains TechCrunch equity, along with the CEO title. Keith Teare at his blog:

"Until now I was the only other shareholder in TechCrunch besides Mike (a fact that dates back to our 2005 collaboration in Archimedes Ventures and edgeio)."

Arrington on the TechCrunch future:

Heather’s job will be to leverage the opportunities that we have sometimes let slip by, and to manage our organic and acquisition growth going forward. More announcements are coming soon.

What might those announcements be? Ben Metcalfe puts forth “Will TechCrunch become a VC firm”: 

Many are speculating that TechCrunch will expand its media empire, like Gawker Media and GigaOmniMedia, into new topic genres. However this still seems like relative peanuts for someone like Heather and so I think TechCrunch will be getting into the Venture Capital game.

What about potential conflicts of interest? 

Metcalfe: I think such a potential development would raise all sorts of editorial issues for the TC blog to think about - however Michael Arrington has already shown that he does not consider TechCrunch to be ‘unbiased’ nor does he seem to be worried too much about editorial objectivity.

What would TechCrunch bring to the VC table?

Metcalfe: Venture Capital is about business intelligence as much anything. One can argue that Michael Arrington has an eye for picking out future successful startups as that’s basically what he’s made his mark doing up till now (albeit writing about them).

But does Arrington really have an “eye for picking out future successful startups”?

At CrunchNotes earlier this month, Arrington acknowledged that the TechCrunch effect on start-ups is an ephemeral one, with no apparent meaningful impact on the long-term prospects for the venture:

Arrington on the immediate results of a TechCrunch write-up:

The traffic we send to a site when we write about it on its launch day can (and often does) take it down. It’s not that TechCrunch traffic is that massive, but it’s enough that if there’s a bug somewhere in application that wasn’t noticed with small traffic testing, it can be exploited and quickly take the site down.

Arrington on the long-term results of a TechCrunch write-up:

Another problem is that the traffic doesn’t last. There’s a spike, and then most of the people never come back. Hopefully a few stick around, register and tell their friends.

So what’s the big TechCrunch deal?

Metcalfe: There’s nothing like giving out shit loads of someone else’s money to unremarkable companies to make you feel like maybe you’re the chump for not taking some of the money off the table for yourself.

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