The Entreprenurial Gene Exposed

photo by Darcy Padilla
Wired Magazine contributing editor Fred Vogelstein spent some time with Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. The result is a splendid look at one of the top bloggers in the universe.

Arrington has turned his passion into a tidy business. Revenue from advertising, job listings, and sponsorships now totals about $200,000 a month. He says he could have sold the operation last fall to a media company (which he won’t name) for $8.5 million, and he may still. But with a new top-flight CEO from Fox Interactive Media, roughly $1 million in the bank, and VCs lining up around the block to invest, Arrington talks like a man who wants to build an empire. There are lots of blogs with more raw traffic — mostly celebrity or political sites like A Socialite’s Life and Daily Kos — but few with as much business influence.
By any measure, it has been a remarkable rise. Two years ago, Arrington was a nobody — a former attorney and entrepreneur who, at 35, looked as if he might never hit it big. Now, without a journalism background or media-giant bankroll, he is mentioned in the same sentence as big-shot tech journalist Walt Mossberg. But Arrington is not only a self-made Silicon Valley rock star, he’s a textbook example of how to turn intelligence, tenacity, and arrogance into an Internet brand.

The piece reveals that Arrington works harder than most. He works seven days a week, 16+ hours a day with no vacations. The article also reveals a bit about his attitude.

Arington’s longtime associate and mentor, Keith Teare, says he’s never met anyone with as much drive as Arrington has. He says it’s part of the reason Arrington has had so many employers — six (not including part-time consulting gigs) since graduating from Stanford Law School in 1995. Arrington always wanted more power and responsibility than his employers were prepared to give him, and he was never good at concealing his frustration — or any emotions, really — when he didn’t get his way.

Wow. Can I relate to that last bit, or what? Yes, is the answer. And when you work in a business based on client service, you’ll never be granted that kind of power and responsibility. Even when you have it at the agency, you’re still a hired gun/outsider when it comes to negotiating a seat at the client’s decision-making table.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.