Milo Yiannopoulos wonders why Mike Butcher is nailed to the mast of a sinking ship. TechCrunch’s European editor, like the US staff who have already departed, has outgrown the ailing AOL property.
Blogging for TechCrunch is only ever an elaborate form of attention-seeking. (I mean, we’ve all been there.) But there are some personalities whose contribution to the industry is greater than the sum of their needy blog posts. Mike Butcher is one such blogger. Butcher’s star has risen rapidly in the last year, as the attention lavished on technology start-ups by the mainstream press has accelerated.
I like to tease Mike about his writing. I like to say things like: “Mike! What in God’s name do the Sex Pistols have to do with geolocated food recommendation apps?” And: “What on earth is a ‘divource‘?” But when all’s said and done, no one has done more for the European ecosystem than Butcher, which is why no fuss is made about his dual roles as co-founder of TechHub and editor of
TechCrunch Europe. His position as kingpin in the European start-up ecosystem looks unassailable, as evidenced by how keenly he has been wooed by the Tech City Investment Organisation and government generally.
TechCrunch, on the other hand, is a wounded and dying beast, its editor Erick Schonfeld a puppet of Arianna Huffington who lashes out at departing writers in deeply unedifying ways. There’s no doubt that getting featured on the front page of TechCrunch.com is still the holy grail for web and mobile start-ups, but that will not be the case for much longer.
I am told by sources inside AOL that TechCrunch’s extremities, including the Japanese and French editions, are low priorities for the company, and will not survive the inevitable trimming when revenues plunge. (Revenues will plunge because it isn’t just writers jumping ship: chief executive Heather Harde, who turned the blog into a commercial success, has gone too.)
No one in Europe is adequately positioned to snatch TechCrunch’s crown. Its competitors are hamstrung by directionlessness, poor quality writers, inferior connections and a lack of personality. Yet, visiting the front page of TechCrunch, it’s impossible to tell that TechCrunch Europe even exists. Which makes me wonder: why is Butcher still there? Why does he bother to share revenue from his events with AOL when an independent news service overseen by him could be so lucrative?
It’s Mike’s birthday today. We think the best present he could give himself would be to open his laptop lid, register a new URL and type a farewell message on TechCrunch Europe.