The company annouces the acquisition along with the purchases of instructional video site 5min and Thing Labs Inc. People familiar with the deal say it paid around $30 million for TechCrunch. Arrington is retained on a multi-year deal. AOL chief executive Armstrong:
The one thing that doesn’t change is people’s consumption of content.
Arrington starts the fund with $20 million. He will run it with Gallagher and Siegler. Arrington:
I don’t claim to be a journalist. I hold myself to higher standards of transparency and disclosure.
He will take a reduced role at TechCrunch but continue to report to Huffington. Investments will be disclosed on the blog. AOL is putting about $10 million into the fund. Armstrong:
We have a traditional understanding of journalism with the exception of TechCrunch, which is different but is transparent about it.
Armstrong denies reports that said AOL is interested in selling the two properties and some smaller tech-relate dpublications as a package for $70 million-$100 million:
We are planning to invest in those properties, not sell those properties
Arrington interviews AOL CEO Armstrong at Disrupt SF:
You have tripled the stock price of AOL when everyone, me included, was calling this company dead a year ago. How did you do it?
We basically had a three-pronged approach, one was operationally, you’ve seen us do a lot better, improve and beat expectations the last four quarters in a row, the second thing is really focus on products…the traditional AOL businesses as well as the new businesses [like Disrupt], the third thing was on the financial engineering side, we did a patent transaction, we bought back a significant amount of companies, we did a huge buyback last summer.
He says the company is focusing on consumers, advertisers, publishers, and subscribers, and making sure investors get a high return.
The fund has deployed just over half its capital, and the internal rate of return (IRR) is 20%-30%. It is reported to be in the very early stage of pre-marketing for a second fund, having reached out to just a few of its 61 limited partners, including AOL. Armstrong is due to sit down with Gallagher later in the month.