When Will TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington Quit AOL? Conceivian Takes a Stab

10/6/10

Ever since AOL (NYSE: AOL) acquired San Francisco-based TechCrunch for an undisclosed amount, many in the technology community have been speculating on how long it will take founder Michael Arrington to toss in his towel and leave the Internet giant. At least that’s the question on the minds of the folks over at Redmond, WA-based startup lab Conceivian, who today rolled out a new website that allows people to bet on when Arrington will call it quits.

WhenWillMichaelQuit.com is purely for fun, according to Conceivian chief startup officer Marcelo Calbucci.

“Big companies have their issues. Too many meetings, too many emails, too many rules and too easy to kill innovation are just a few of them. Michael Arrington has his quirks. He doesn’t like to shake people’s hand, he hates meeting, he works on odd hours, etc.” Calbucci wrote on the site’s blog. “We think Arrington + AOL is just crazy. Yes, it happened, but we think the odd marriage won’t be long. We are pretty sure it will not last more than the three years and one day for Michael to get all his earn out, but it’s likely to be much earlier.”

Besides aiming for a few laughs, Calbucci says the “mini startup” is out to prove that crowd sourcing can be used to predict the future. Conceivian was serious enough about the venture to issue an “official” press release, and the group says it expects to gather millions of votes. Everyone who guesses the correct date—any day between now and four years from the acquisition—will be entered into a drawing for a free iPad.

In addition to guessing the quit date for Michael, who has been on the AOL payroll for just 10 days, visitors to the site can also have a little more fun completing the sentence “Michael Arrington at AOL is like…” and vote their favorite answers to the top of the list.

Conceivian, founded in 2010, is on a mission to create 100 game-changing innovations in the next 10 years, though the group admits WhenWillMichaelQuit.com is not one of them. “We expect to use the same technology to predict when Léo Apotheker, the new CEO for HP, will be fired by the board,” Calbucci joked in the release.

“The primary goal is to have fun with this site. We think we could actually create some generic version of the website on the future for people to create their own ‘When will X happen,’ but for now it’s just an idea. No grand plan,” he told Xconomy.

The betting has nothing to do with the merits of either AOL or TechCrunch, according to Calbucci, but rather the dynamics of moving entrepreneurs from a position running the show, to a new job that means taking orders from above.

“It’s pretty hard to have free-spirited entrepreneurs being “locked” into the large company “jail,” Calbucci wrote on his blog. “I’m pretty sure—scratch that, I’m 100 percent sure—Michael Arrington will not stay the full three years for his earn-out,” which is rumored to be $15 million, or $5 million for each year of his contract.

Read more about Calbucci’s inspiration for the site on his personal blog, and cast your vote here.

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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