Michael Arrington has announced that he will take a one-month leave of absence from the helm of one of the most respected and revered technology websites in the world.
His decision was apparently prompted by someone in a business suit who came up to him at the recent DLD conference in Davos, Switzerland and spat at him for no reason.
Arrington also revealed in a cathartic post on Techcrunch (and relayed in countless twitters) that he has been insulted and threatened many times and the spat appeared to be the final straw.
Worryingly, Arrington celebrity status has taken a toll on his family and employees' security; he reported that "an off balance" individual threatened to kill him and his family, prompting him to hire a personal security team.
Just like Steve Jobs IS Apple, Michael Arrington IS Techcrunch. Without him, the site would simply not be the same; after all, he is the Father of Techcrunch.
But do the latest events and Michael Arrington's cryptic "I think this is where I’m going to draw a line" announcement pave the way for bigger changes ahead?
We can recall only one other man who inspired so much passion when writing for a website he founded: Mike Magee. The co-founder of The Register left the website, to launch The Inquirer from scratch only to sell it to Vnunet afterwards.
But should Arrington think of selling Techcrunch, he could end up being a rather rich man and he has already been heard saying (via Valleywag) that he would like to retire to Hawaii.
If Guardian Media Group paid $30 million for paidcontent.org and Conde Nast footed $25 million for Ars Technica, expect Techcrunch, even in those crazy days, to be worth, much more than that.
Potential Purchasers? CBS Interactive (yep, owners of Cnet), Fox Interactive, AOL (owner of Weblogs). Guesstimate price? Closer to $50 million than to $30 million.
Why so high? Well, unlike Ars or Paidcontent, Techcrunch has no potent competitor in its segment (obsessive about web 2.0 - no offense to Mashable, Gigaom or RWW).
As a bonus, Arrington could, like our former Prime Minister Tony Blair, become a celebrity guest speaker and earn millions.
(All Things Digital)