TechCrunch has been covering the technology space for years, largely powered by one man: Michael Arrington. As one of the first crop of technology writers to lead the charge as an authoritative source of information, TechCrunch has inspired technology (and other) bloggers to establish themselves as legitimate source of important news, even while mainstream media has often scoffed and dismissed (as most large, worried enterprises tend to do). So as this new generation of bloggers works to establish a journalistic voice and respected opinion, what can they learn from the recent acquisition of TechCrunch by AOL?
Michael Arrington started TechCrunch in 2005. He was an aggressive early adopter who ensured that his site was constantly breaking news. But he didn’t get his first break until a few years later, and he was patient with the site. If you look at his earlier posts, you can see a ton of breaking news, but also more experimentation with smaller, less relevant news. He took his time while experimenting to find his voice.
An Alexa.com chart showing growth for TechCrunch in just the past year.
As Om Malik, founder of GigaOM and friend of Michael Arrington, puts it, “Michael took his doggedness and heart-on-sleeve passion for all things startup-related and turned it into TechCrunch.” The key here was that he enjoyed the writing, and that’s what gave him the patience and perseverance necessary. He has a background in law but clearly chased his passion when he made the jump to technology companies, and quickly found that there was no central place to hear all the news that he was hearing, and was so important to him. That kind of passion is what gives you the perseverance to stay with an idea.
Michael is notorious for ‘calling it as it is’, but sometimes that means coining terms like “Scamville“, which is viral, catchy and sensationalist. He knew and knows that the world of media is in fact as much about personality and opinion as it is about fact, and he took seemingly personal vendettas against companies and products that disservice their customers. He took Offerpal to task, accusing their CEO of being the Queen of Scams. This kind of rhetoric goes a long way (unfortunately).
4) Breaking News
TechCrunch breaks tech news consistently. They made their first break when they revealed Google buying YouTube, and that marked a huge shift for the blogging industry. If CBS wanted to know about the video industry and keep abreast of what’s going on in tech to-the-second, how can they ignore TechCrunch? By establishing itself (and himself) as axis upon which the technology world spins, TechCrunch became the place where people went to to break news.
5) Personality & Branding
TechCrunch is Michael Arrington. Everytime you see one, you see the other. That’s branding at its best. I would even say that a verb should be created, where “to Arrington” something means to analyze, sensationalize and boost publicity (positive or negative) to a product or service. For me, I hear the name Arrington at least a few times a day, from people who are attempting to legitimize their product because they got a review from Arrington, or a blog that wants to network to us because they know somebody who knows Arrington. If you want to succeed in blogging, you have to be the kind of person who doesn’t mind saying your own name… a lot.