January 29, 2009, 2:06 PM — Influential--and often controversial--tech guru Michael Arrington has decided to take a leave of absence from TechCrunch, the Web site he co-founded in 2005. Arrington explained in his decision in an emotional post that described how getting spit on in the face at the Digital, Life, Design Conference in Munich has forced him to reconsider his career.
"In the past I've been grabbed, pulled, shoved, and otherwise abused at events, but never spat on. I think this is where I'm going to draw a line."
Arrington, 38, a former corporate attorney and the man behind several tech start-ups, has withstood and tolerated years of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Last summer, Arrington wrote, he received death threats from a man with a felony record and a gun. The incident forced Arrington to hide out at his parents' house for a week.
But it was the aggressive public display of contempt in Munich that drove Arrington over the edge. "Before TechCrunch I assumed most people were essentially good, and assumed that an individual was trustworthy until proven otherwise. Today, its exactly the opposite [sic]."
Fellow tech bloggers also added to Arrington's dismay, he says. During a phone interview with the Wall Street Journal, Arrington conceded that "constant allegations by other bloggers that TechCrunch was unethical had directed unwarranted animosity his way." Some claim that TechCrunch accepts payment, favors, and gifts for stories.
Arrington says he plans to disappear "on a beach somewhere far away from my iPhone and laptop." He will finish writing about the World Economic Forum in Davos, take most of February off, and decide where to go from there.