Heather Harde, the business brains behind TechCrunch, will be stepping down at the end of the year as general manager of AOL’s technology properties (including TechCrunch, Engadget, Joystiq, and TUAW). AOL GM Jay Kirsch, who oversees Autos, Finance, and Industry on the business side, will be adding Tech to his responsibilities. Editorially, TechCrunch will remain independent under me. (Editorial and business groups are separate at AOL).
Heather became TechCrunch’s CEO almost five years ago, working out of a spare bedroom in founder Michael Arrington’s house, and built it into the profitable media and conference business we have today with a staff of more than 50 people. AOL Tech is one of the fastest growing businesses inside AOL.
If I had to choose one word to describe Heather it would be “tireless.” She is a tireless leader, a tireless strategist, a tireless negotiator, a tireless organizer, a tireless sales person, and a tireless champion of TechCrunch in general. Somehow, on the side, she managed to create entirely new products like CrunchBase. Michael often said that hiring Heather was the best business decision he ever made. After he parted ways with AOL (and TechCrunch) last September, Heather stayed on to help steady the ship and set it on a new course.
I am truly sorry to see her go. She is an amazing business partner and a rare talent. Just one example: Last year, when Heather was negotiating the final deal terms with AOL to purchase TechCrunch, she ran the conference during the day without a hiccup, and then literally stayed up all night to get the deal done in time for it to be announced on stage the next day.
Thank you, Heather. We can’t wait to see what you do next.