On AOL… Again

The question I probably get asked most often is: “what does ParisLemon stand for?" I usually just tell people it’s not that interesting — because really, it’s not. The fact of the matter is that it was just the random screen name I chose for myself on AOL when I was a kid. Of course, now that TechCrunch has been acquired by AOL, it’s slightly more interesting.

The full story is that I was actually kicked off of AOL sometime in 1994 (when I was 13) for “scrolling” (basically hitting a letter and then hitting return over and over again in a chat room). My original screen name, “RELGEIS” (“Siegler” backwards), was banned by the service. But I was addicted to AOL and needed to get back online, so I grabbed one of my parent’s credit cards and came up with a new name as quickly as possible. 

The name I picked, Paris Green (a pigment, animal poison, and firework colorant), was taken. So was ParisBlue, ParisRed, etc, etc. So, ParisLemon it was.

Anyway, the point is that in a weird twist of fate, the company responsible for my online moniker 16 or so years ago is now also the company I work for. 

The past few weeks have been crazy. I’ve moved across town, helped prepare for a massive conference, and maintained my same basic work schedule (which is all the time). Then the bomb dropped. TechCrunch was being sold.

Since word leaked out last Monday that TechCrunch was going to be acquired by AOL, I’ve gotten a few hundred messages about it, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to talk a bit about the situation.

But first and foremost, a lot of people seem to want to know what I’m going to do, so I’ll just say it. Yes, I’m staying with TechCrunch at AOL. Happily.

Mike’s post on the matter this past Tuesday after the official announcement pretty much sums up my feelings on it. As he wrote, “from a product and business standpoint, it’s a perfect fit.”

It may sound like complete bullshit that AOL is going to remain hands-off and TechCrunch is going to run exactly as it has up until now — just with many more resources — but that is what we’ve been told again, and again, and again. And I do believe that will be the case. AOL seems to be well aware that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing. 

Obviously, a lot of people are worried that this won’t be the case. But I just don’t see it. The fact that we didn’t leak our own acquisition? Come on. That’s just ridiculous. The truth is that are plenty of things we find out about that we don’t run with because it could destroy a deal. The TechCrunch acquisition was obviously an odd example of that, but it really is the same.

Since then, we’re already back to posting agendas we’re not supposed to post. And talking about meetings we’re not supposed to talk about.

Once all the “will this change TechCrunch?" hoopla dies down, I think you’ll find that it hasn’t, in fact, changed TechCrunch. 

Of course, you can never say anything for certain, but that is what I really believe. And that’s why I’m staying.

It helps that AOL also made it clear they wanted me to stay, which I appreciate. So yesterday I signed my new contract. Officially, my title is “Programming Director” at AOL. That’s cool — I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I know that I’ll be doing the same thing I’ve always been doing at TechCrunch: a hell of a lot of writing.

It has been almost exactly six years now since I first started blogging. And it has been about three years now since I started doing it professionally. When I think about it, it’s fairly insane how much things have changed just in these past three years.

When I started taking blogging seriously, I had one goal: to become the best at it. I’ve risen quickly, but I know I’m not there yet. And that’s part of what drives me to keep going — even in a post-acquisition world. 

More importantly, I just love what I do. I often get asked if I get burned out due to the amount of content I post. Sometimes, sure I do. But then something interesting happens in the world of tech and all I want to do is learn everything I can about it. And then go write about it. 

I don’t think that will ever change.

Anyway, thanks for all the kind words about the deal. I hope everyone will keep reading TechCrunch. And I hope even more people do now with AOL’s reach and resources. 

The other day someone reminded me of a CNN article from December of last year that extensively quoted me. It was about AOL’s spin-off from Time Warner. I was asked for my thoughts. 

What happens to AOL after the spinoff will be one of the most interesting things to watch next year, I imagine,” I said.

Indeed.

[image: flickr/dannysullivan]

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