After reading a Fortune story yesterday about how Michael Arrington is the “wizard of Web 2.0″, one thing that struck me is how synonymous Arrington is with TechCrunch. He is TechCrunch. He’s the owner, the main writer, the PR machine and the brand. If Arrington, for whatever reason left TechCrunch, is TechCrunch still TechCrunch?
Frankly, I think the answer is “no”. This isn’t a slight against TechCrunch’s other writers such as Erick Schonfeld but the reality is TechCrunch is so closely aligned with Arrington that it would be impossible to envision TechCrunch being TechCrunch without Arrington actively involved.
I would argue the same goes for the Huffington Post and GigaOm because the founders behind them are the brand’s living, breathing persona. You take them out of the equation, and it’s just not the same.
It means that Arrington, Huffington and Malik are married to their online babies for a long time. While Arrington talks about the idea of perhaps selling the business at some point, how much is TechCrunch really worth is Arrington walks away to start something else? The easy answer is far less than it’s worth with him involved.
It’s not that I expect Arrington to sell TechCrunch any time soon but it does illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of having such a large and strong personality at the helm of a company where the entrepreneur and the entity as so closely intertwined.
Update: 24/7, which put together a list of the 25 most valuable blogs, suggests TechCrunch is worth $36-million based on traffic (uniques and pageviews), demographics, monetization and risks (including the dependence on star founders).