Let me make one thing clear. No one, save for maybe violent criminals or fraudulent corporate CEOs, should ever be stalked or spit on. That's wrong.
That being said, Mike Arrington's crybaby act is a joke.
He said his job "isn't much fun anymore" so he's taking time off.
Mike, I don't know if you realize, but a lot of people's jobs aren't fun at all. (We're trying to change that with Path 101--sneak preview of new features here!) They work and keep their mouth shut because they feel lucky to have a job in the first place--because over 350,000 people have lost their jobs at Fortune 500 companies alone since November, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more at smaller companies.
Your job is hard because someone spit on you and now you need to take a month off?
Try teaching. Between 1996 and 2000, 599,000 violent crimes against teachers at school were reported. On average, in each year from 1996 to 2000, about 28 out of every 1,000 teachers were the victims of violent crime at school, and 3 out of every 1,000 were victims of serious violent crime (i.e., rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault).
Violent crime, not spit.
And most teachers don't drive Porsches either...
... or you could be a cop. In 2008, 140 police officers were killed in the line of duty in the US... and that was way down from normal.
Hell, I mean... who cleans the bathroom at the Techcrunch office? Whoever it is would no doubt trade their job and salary for yours, spit, death threats, and all--seeing as they probably live in a neighborhood where too many people own guns and carry them--and don't just call around and send letters, nor do their register their guns.
As for the stalking incident that affected your family--that's really frightening, and awful.
However, it has little to do with your job or the fact that you're a public persona. According to the National Center For The Victims Of Crime, 1 out of every 12 women will be stalked during her lifetime. 1 out of 45 men will be stalked during his lifetime. Over one million women, and nearly 380,000 men are stalked annually.
I'm pretty sure most of these people aren't on the Technorati top bloggers list. The fact of the matter is, stalkers typically don't go after public figures. You just happen to be unfortunate enough to have won (or lost) the stalker lottery--but be thankful you have the clout and financial means to protect yourself. Not everyone can afford $2000/day security. This woman sure couldn't.
So, while the circumstances of his sabbatical are unfortunate, I'm glad to see him go, and so are a lot of other people.
Because he's an asshole--and everyone knows it.
You see, while the stalking incident is random and unfortunate, the fact that people don't like him--that's pretty much his own fault, not Kara's or Nick's.
The guy is completely obnoxious and turns legitimate business stories into personal vendettas--whether it's against the tech team at Twitter (hmm... business model questions aside, Twitter doesn't seem so "amateur" anymore now that they've turned the uptime corner, huh?), overzealous PR professionals, or competing tech conferences. His professional behavior is that of a schoolyard bully, and funny enough, like most schoolyard bullies, his leave of absence proves one thing:
He can dish it, but he can't take it.
You can't have it both ways, Mike. Your business *thrives* on controversy. You've profited from the fame, and like a celebrity who pushes the camera paparazzi away, even though they always *amazingly* seem to know exactly where those celebrities will be, you want the upside but you don't want the risk.
But taking responsibility for downside risk has never been your forte, has it? Anyone remember Edge.io? In one year, the company he founded blew through $5 million "according to plan" without any significant traction whatsoever. His Deadpool post almost made it seem like he was just an angel investor and not the key guy. That's very different from how it seemed when I was on the receiving end of his pitch and demo back when I was at USV.
Not surprisingly, it was one of the most kid gloved deadpool posts ever--almost as kidgloved as he treats Seesmic, one of his investments. When a company with no business model and very little traction raises $12 million, this should be grade A Haterington fodder, but he totally let's them off easy. "Le Meur says the company isn’t in dire financial trouble yet". What? No response to that, Mike? I'm sorry, but just because you have two years of runway doesn't mean you're not in trouble if that runway ends off a cliff--it's just delaying the inevitable.
Controversy, conflict, and a generally unprofessional attitude follows Arrington wherever he goes--as does an army of fanboys whose numbers are nothing more than a useless distraction to PR and startup folks alike. I'm glad to see the distraction gone, hope he doesn't return, and that we can all get back to the business of trying to survive in these difficult times--trying to figure out how to build great things that paying customers, not fanboys, see value in.
In the meantime, if you'd like alternative reading to TechCrunch, I highly suggest checking out Mashable--if for no other reason than the way that Pete Cashmore runs his business. I talked to Pete at SXSW last year about the culture of Mashable. He makes sure his team tries to stay above the hate and the controversy, because that's just not the kind of business he wants to run. Pete's a genuine guy, and while the camera follows him around because he's a helluva lot better looking than his TechCrunch counterpart, he also spends quite a fair bit of flying around making quiet visits to his real friends completely under the radar--something Arrington probably wouldn't understand.
And it's paying off. You wouldn't know it by Mike's holier-than-thou attitude, but Mashable's traffic and growth is right up there with TechCrunch, despite the fact that it focuses on a narrower vertical.
So it's true... You can actually be successful and not be an asshole. How about that?
So Bush is gone, Arrington is gone... Maybe 2009 is going to be better than we think!