I Can't Believe Arianna Is Turning My Old Office into a Nap Room

By Sarah Lacy , written on February 3, 2012

From The News Desk

There are a small number of readers who can't get enough of the inside baseball of the TechCrunch implosion. And a large number of readers who wish we'd all just move on. I've tried to take the high road at all opportunities, because the former are mostly just rubberneckers and the latter are serious readers who want to read great stuff about tech and startups. I promised when I started this site, I wouldn't waste their time.

But it's 5:06 on a Friday night, and this post has to be written. For my sanity and to remind myself why I shouldn't sell my company.

Arianna Huffington is turning my former office into a nap pod.

There are personal reasons this is upsetting. This was my office where countless tech CEOs have spilled their guts to me. Where we planned every step of Disrupt Beijing. Where Mike and Paul and I had fights, planned stories, and made fun of each other. Where younger staffers would come in to have a shot of whiskey and vent at the end of a frustrating day.

It's not going to the next senior editor of the site. It's becoming a nap pod.

But there's a bigger reason this is significant. It shows how dramatically a culture can change in a short period of time once you sell a company. I have nothing specifically against nap pods or even Huffington Post as a property. I just can't think of anything more fundamentally, un-TechCrunch. We were pirates. We barely slept at night, let alone during the work day.

To underscore the point, here's a housekeeping email Heather sent to the staff  a few months before we both quit (emphasis mine). I'm taking this out of context, so I should note that Heather never sent notes like this. She wasn't a nag at all-- the office was just gross at this particular time, and she was handling it in her usual professional Heather way. I thought it was funny at the time:

TechCrunch is going to continue to operate in the spirit of a true, self-sufficient startup.
  • I rely on all of us as individuals to maintain our office in as great and positive a condition as possible.
  • On Friday, after lunch is served, lets all take an hour to get rid of extraneous boxes and junk around the office.  Gene did an amazing job this past week organizing our supply room and all our conference materials for future use.
  • Going forward, place your dirty dishes directly in the dishwasher, as you might in your own home so that it can be run nightly. Take turns emptying the dishwasher.  Bring empty packaging materials to the garbage area so it can be removed nightly and not accumulate.
  • There are multiple individual file cabinets in the office available for personal use if your desk is cluttered.  Most are unused, feel free to grab one.
  • We serve lunch three times a week.  This is a special benefit that other AOL offices do not enjoy that is part of our corporate history. Help clean up unused food and store it in the fridge if you participate in leftovers and want to be a cooperative co-worker.  Find your own snacks or share responsibility for keeping baskets stocked on the kitchen counter.  There's a coffe maker, Nespresso maker, hot water heater, toaster and microwave for your use.  Feel free to bring in other supplies if you would like to use them or share them with the office.  If you use them, help maintain them.
  • We welcome pets. Pets are not perfect. Owners fix problems.
Once Friday's clean up is complete, I'll ask the building management to do a deep cleaning of carpets and fridge and dust.  We'll also get the wires in high-traffic areas gaffed to the floor.
We have had problems getting regular beverage delivery established through AOL preferred vendors.  If this can't be remedied this week, we'll go with other suppliers.  One fridge is sufficient for our office and the environment.
We are an open office environment.  Co-op work rooms are available for meetings and quiet work projects.
If you need a nap room, please apply to work at the Huffington Post.
If you need a newly painted office and furniture, please apply to work at AOL Bush Street or Palo Alto.
If you want to work for the #1 source of breaking news and opinion about technology, enjoy our kitchy furniture and startup vibe.
Our individual actions every day cumulate to our business, our culture and ultimately to our success.  I'm certainly open to constructive criticism about all areas of our business, and I think most of you take me up on my open door policy regularly. But use good judgement and make recommendations that you'd actually implement if you were in charge of running a profitable business. Create the change you want to see and be.
The important thing to note is the bolded part above about nap pods was a joke because no one at TechCrunch ever asked for a nap pod. No one would ever expect we would have a nap pod.
TechCrunch is still a dominant brand in the tech blogosphere with some of the best people in the industry working at it. I have many close friends there, and I am not trying to jab at them. I'm just calling it like I see it as a journalist. A biased one, for sure, but a journalist none the less. That nap pod is symbolic. Inch-by-inch, it's all just becoming part of Huffington Post now.