It’s been one hell of a week for TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. First, Gawker reported that he beat his girlfriend and allegedly raped another female, and then various tech industry heavy weights appeared to confirm his abusive tendencies. Even former friend Jason Calacanis admitted, “story after horrific story of unimaginable behavior were told to me in private.”
After the story broke, I reached out to The Inquisitr‘s founder (the site was sold in 2011) and former TechCrunch writer Duncan Riley. I actually started at The Inquisitr four years ago under Riley’s tutelage, and, from the get go, I heard the stories of Michael Arrington’s abuse.
Riley admits that he never saw Arrington actually hit anyone but he notes:
“… He regularly used his height and stature to psychically intermediate others (standing over them, waving his arms around etc), and screaming and temper tantrums was a typical day in the TechCrunch office.”
Duncan, a native of Melbourne, Australia, says at first he believed the temper tantrums were just a cultural thing:
“Australian’s are very egalitarian when it comes to dealing with people (we treat the rich and poor, lowly paid and highly paid similarly) but after the 2nd or 3rd trip, and talking to some other about it I found out it was a particular Michael thing: he was the boss and he felt entitled to treat people basically like sh*t.”
Duncan has discussed some of Arrington’s dealings in the past, noting “I treat my dog better than Michael treated his staff.”
Riley was actually the victim of a Michael Arrington verbal assault on one single occasion:
“He tried in on me once, can’t remember if I told you this story or not, but after yelling abuse at me I closed my laptop and started packing my bags. He asked me what the f*ck I was doing, I responded with something like “you can stick your f*cking job up your arse I’m going home to Australia. No one f*cking talks to me like that, period” He then got very apologetic (the thing with Arrington is NO ONE EVER stands up to him) and he never said a bad thing to me again while I worked there.”
Duncan admits that Jason Calacanis, Loren Feldman, and other folks turned a blind eye at the time.
It’s no surprise that Duncan Riley would be willing to talk about Michael Arrington. After launching The Inquisitr, he decided to use a more advanced CrunchBase competitor for business listings. Shortly after that decision, Riley posted the following message:
“Had an email last night from someone who I really respect chewing me out completely due to a business deal with a competitor. To be precise, not just chewing me out, full blown FU I’ll never talk to you again.”
I’m reserving personal judgment over alleged claims against Michael Arrington. One thing I will mention is that Duncan and I have been friends for years and our talks about Arrington were kept private and mostly reserved for discussion about what it takes to create a great web destination. It wasn’t until the Gawker story broke that I asked Duncan to chime in on the record about the entire fiasco. Duncan Riley and Michael Arrington may have had a falling out, but Riley was never afraid to admit that he had respect for Arrington’s ability to build TechCrunch with laser focus on the ultimate prize of creating the best tech site on the web.
Perhaps it is that admiration for Arrington’s business acumenship that kept more people from speaking out about his violent tendencies. On the other hand, perhaps Michael Arrington just likes to scream a lot and this entire physical abuse scandal is the result of enough people finally getting fed up with Arrington’s ridiculous attitude.
It’s not as if this type of talk about Arrington hadn’t popped up in the past; there is even a website dedicated to his issues: