Exclusive: Arrington out at AOL (for real this time)
It has been a very long week for AOL. And it’s about to get even longer.
Last Thursday, word leaked that one of its employees, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, was launching a venture capital fund that would include an $8 million commitment from AOL (AOL). Then came a more official version via the NY Times, which included positive quotes from both Arrington and AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong.
Shortly thereafter, however, a company spokesman — apparently acting at the behest of AOL editorial boss Arianna Huffington — said that Arrington had been fired. Another company spokeswoman clarified, saying that he was still in the employ of AOL, but in a non-editorial role that would prohibit Arrington from sourcing investment opportunities via TechCrunch.
Arrington mostly stayed out of the public fray until yesterday when he demanded that TechCrunch either be given full editorial independence or sold back to Arrington and other legacy shareholders (AOL had purchased the site last year).
But AOL is not giving TechCrunch its editorial independence. And it is not selling it back to Arrington.
Instead, Fortune has learned that AOL executives have decided to terminate Arrington. It is unclear how this will officially occur. Maybe a pink slip. Maybe Arrington submits a (public?) letter of resignation. Maybe Tim Armstrong simply gives Arrington a phone call, and he quickly dashes off a note to TechCrunch employees on his iPad.