AOL Slurps Up TechCrunch

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aol.jpgADOTAS – At TechCrunch Disrupt, founder and tech media maven Michael Arrington just invited his new overlord, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong on stage and announced that it was official: AOL had acquired the mightiest of tech sites. Arrington fell to his knees and said in a throaty voice, “I shall do thy bidding, master,” while Armstrong softly chuckled from within his black robe.

OK, maybe it didn’t happen like that, but yeah, TechCrunch is now a piece of the AOL empire after it failed to conquer the blog twice before. Signing the agreement on stage for all the world to see, Arrington told the crowd at Disrupt that they pushed up the acquisition date after word leaked.

SAI is reporting the price tag was a low $25 million, two and a half times what Arrington estimated TechCrunch revenue at in a recent narrative piece for INC magazine and far lower than the sixfold average for Internet brands. However, SAI admitted the $25 million may only be a down payment.

TechCrunch will now enjoy the company of AOL tech sites Engadget (which, SAI notes, is getting killed by its chief independent competitor, Gizmodo), TUAW and Switched. Arrington, the persona most associate with TechCrunch, is sticking around (he can’t depart his bat-cave — the light, it burns!) and Armstrong promised a hands-off approach. Since its spinoff from Time Warner, revenue-hungry AOL has been counting on content to drive display ad dollars back its way.

Quentin Hardy at Forbes comments that while the sale makes sense for both parties, Arrington is tired (I’m surprised he hasn’t fully burnt out considering his work regimen) and is unlikely to be as “relentless” as he was in the past. It was that relentlessness that attracted readers to TechCrunch and made him a tech media star. If that fire is fading, will TechCrunch’s readership — and advertisers — fade with it?

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