On Tuesday morning, tech gossip blog Valleywag posted a rumor that TechCrunch's small blog network might not be doing quite as well as its parent brand: Valleywag editor Owen Thomas said that gadget blog CrunchGear had made significant pay cuts and that at least one blogger had been fired. In a message to Valleywag, CrunchGear editor John Biggs attempted to clear the air, saying that some writers are "on hiatus" while the gadget blog works out its new ad sales program and transitions from a per-post model to a monthly salary.
Some blogging insiders, CNET News.com has heard, aren't buying Biggs' insistence that the CrunchGear kids are all right. Despite the star power and influence of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, CrunchGear still isn't in the same league as older hardware blogs Engadget (owned by AOL's Weblogs Inc.) and Gizmodo (owned by Valleywag parent company Gawker Media). Disclaimer: CNET News.com parent company CNET Networks also operates a gadget blog, Crave, which competes with all three of those titles.
But another source at CrunchGear, with whom I spoke on Tuesday afternoon, said that while there has been some reorganization, it shouldn't be considered an earth-shattering shake-up or an indication of failure at CrunchGear. "There are adjustments," the source said, adding that CrunchGear "decided to scale things back to a more core staff" and that "some writers were put on hold and some were let go as part of standard site growth."
He added that the site had reached a point where there were too many writers, and it seems as though something had to be done to clean things up and streamline operations. While the source would not go into detail on Valleywag's claim that CrunchGear bloggers had previously made $3,000 per month and it's now down to $1,500, he did say that "it's nothing drastic like that."
The rumor, as a matter of fact, may have had its roots in conversation that went on at last night's TiVo-Rhapsody party in New York, where representatives from multiple gadget blogs were present and alcohol from the open bar was flowing freely.
CrunchGear, which is largely based in New York, recently celebrated its first anniversary.