TechCrunch's Michael Arrington announced February 1 that during his break from the site due to spitting and stalking incidents, Sarah Lacy will be taking his role.
It's odd that four days a later I'm writing about this now, but I just read an extremely well written post from Sarah about user generated content, and for some reason I immediately thought of the question.
Sarah is one of those people who does split opinions. I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at Gnomedex, and although I didn't dislike her before (I'd read the controversy though like everyone else) I walked away highly impressed. Here's a woman (lady may be sexist, but more fitting) who isn't afraid to share an opinion, but does it with grace, in a dress of teflon. She's extraordinarily bright, engaging, and good value, and I don't say those words easily.
But even that tough veneer faces a serious challenge at TechCrunch. Dare I say it, but the so-called leading Web 2.0/ startup blog is no place for a lady. In saying that I'm not suggesting that woman can't do the job, I'm saying that woman get lynched on TechCrunch without fail.
Natalia Del Conte, another highly talented presenter and writer lasted weeks at TechCrunch back in 2006. It wasn't that she was a bad writer (although her tone obviously was different to that of Michael's), a lot of the nastiness seemed to come about from some sort of misogynist view that women can't write tech. I'm not saying that some of the criticism may have not been fair, and people are entitled to disagree, but the commenters on TechCrunch ripped Natalia to shreds in a nearly unbelievable fashion.
I didn't follow the next female writer closely, but from what I can gather she received a similar response. TechCrunch in the second half of 2008 and today is different though to when I was there or when Natalia was there: Arrington now actively deletes comments and bans commenters, but even then it's difficult to filter them all
Sarah is opinionated, and that's going to be a red rag to a bull, even more so than the opinions offered by Arrington. That she has a teflon suit is a given, but if the TechCrunch commenters go as hard as they did on Natalia on Sarah, that teflon may fail.
I do wish Sarah the best of luck at TechCrunch, and I'll even make an effort to link to her stuff there where appropriate. The question now though is how long she'll last.
Here's the poll.