TechCrunch editor takes leave after death threat, being spit on

Michael Arrington, widely seen as the kingmaker among Web 2.0 startup entrepreneurs because of his influential site , says he's taking a break from blogging through "most of February." In a Wednesday morning, Arrington claims that "someone walked up to me and quite deliberately spat in my face" as he was leaving a conference in Munich Tuesday.

Arrington also told a story he says very few people know:

Last year over the summer an off balance individual threatened to kill me and my family. He wasn't very stealthy about it - he called our office number, sent me emails and even posted threats on his blog, so it wasn't hard to determine who he was. The threats were, in the opinion of security experts we consulted, serious. The individual has a felony record and owns a gun. Police in three states became involved and we hired a personal security team to protect me, my family and TechCrunch employees. At over [US]$2,000 a day we couldn't keep paying for security indefinitely. And the police were helpful but couldn't do much based on the threats until he acted. We had the option of getting a restraining order but that just tells the person exactly where you are (the places they can't go). So for a week I was literally in hiding with my parents at their home.

Arrington, for a reason no one has ever pinpointed, attracts haters at a level far beyond what you'd expect for what is basically an online trade magazine. I learned this firsthand when I wrote for gossip site from 2006 to 2008. Despite Valleywag's , we received almost no hate mail and were never accosted in public. Instead, we got mail, phone calls and in-person pleas from people who begged us to take down Mike Arrington. The most common accusation was that TechCrunch sold endorsements of startups, either in exchange for advertising buys on the site, or for outright cash payments.

This is important: None of these claims ever checked out. Sources would claim to know someone who knew something, but these mystery witnesses never showed up to tell their stories to a reporter. Arrington's success, both as a blog-era publisher/writer and a startup businessman, inflames less successful entrepreneurs and journalists with off-the-scale envy. How does he do that?