Josh Topolsky, the editor-in-chief of Engadget, is leaving the AOL-owned property, which is one of the largest tech news sites on the Web.
Also departing is Managing Editor Nilay Patel, said sources.
But the departures have been a long time in coming, related to a range of ongoing issues the veteran editors have had working for the large New York-based Internet company. Sources said it was not precipitated by AOL's recent $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post.
In fact, sources said new AOL content head Arianna Huffington had tried hard to persuade Topolsky to stay on, but that "he had already mentally made up his mind to go."
This has been a regular occurrence at the site, including two top Engadget editors--Paul Miller and Ross Miller, who are not related--who departed the tech site in recent months. Both stated publicly that they did not like the editorial direction AOL was going in, especially a controversial content strategy document titled "The AOL Way."
In a post in in mid-February, Paul Miller was explicit about the issue on his personal blog:
I'd love to be able to keep doing this forever, but unfortunately Engadget is owned by AOL, and AOL has proved an unwilling partner in this site's evolution. It doesn't take a veteran of the publishing world to realize that AOL has its heart in the wrong place with content. As detailed in the "AOL Way," and borne out in personal experience, AOL sees content as a commodity it can sell ads against. That might make good business sense (though I doubt it), but it doesn't promote good journalism or even good entertainment, and it doesn't allow an ambitious team like the one I know and love at Engadget to thrive.
In this case, "The AOL Way" was not the main reason for the departure of Topolsky or Patel (pictured here, looking rather fetching), sources said, but was more about the challenges of working within a large corporate entity.
Engadget is one of the largest in tech, with 14 million unique visitors a month. Its main competitor is Gawker's Gizmodo. AOL also owns TechCrunch, another tech news site.
BoomTown sent an e-mail to AOL execs for comment and is awaiting a reply.