Welcome to the tech-transaction equivalent of ‘the politics of personal destruction’

(Update: [5:45 p.m.] This has a strange week for me. I spent the first part of it jumping to the defense of bloggers getting threatening letters from laywers and then, today, I find myself identifying with someone who felt the need to get his lawyer to respond instantly to what was so obviously a misinformed and misguided post by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. All of this said, I’m now officially resigning from anything to do with this matter.)

Yesterday, PaidContent.org reported that Nashville-based Rivals.com was close to being acquired by Yahoo!

Today, TechCrunch reports (or speculates, it’s hard to decipher this one as Mike is editorializing with this post) that previous acquisition plans failed when due-dillegence revealed that the company’s CEO has been fined for SEC violations a decade ago.

While the company that runs Rivals.com is located in Nashville, I don’t believe I know personally any of the people who run it. If, I do, I apologize for not knowing it off the top of my head. I think I know an investor, however, I haven’t been able to confirm my fuzzy recollection on that. But I do know this: Rivals.com is an incredibly robust online media property that attracts millions of 18-34 year old males — and has lots of traffic everyday. There is real value there that can be audited and verified and valued by the investment bankers and lawyers who surround all such transactions.

But, apparently I’m missing something. Apparently, someone is orchestrating what looks from the bleacher seats to be the equivalent of the politics of personal destruction on this deal. In his TechCrunch post, Michael Arrington writes, “No word on whether Terry’s history has been disclosed to Yahoo as part of the current negotiations, and how it might affect the deal. My guess is that it could have an impact.” Does Arrington have information beyond what has obviously been public-information for nearly a decade? Or is someone trying to use Arrington to “go personal” against someone outside the Web 2.0 fraternity that is going to be acquired by Yahoo? Is there a fear that if Yahoo! spends $100 million on Rivals.com, that it means they won’t acquire a TechCrunch-sphere startup?

I don’t think it’s the CEO that is attracting Yahoo to this deal. “I think” any concerns with a highly disclosed, decade-old fine will not be the make-or-break on this deal, rather it will be based on the potential for future value — a future in which the person TechCrunch is painting a scarlet letter on will likely be long-gone from.

No word on whether TechCrunch is pissed off that PaidContent.org got this story first. No word yet on whether TechCrunch talked with anyone at Yahoo before suggesting they haven’t done any Google Yahoo searches on the CEO’s name. No word on whether Michael Arrington has ties with anyone who is a competitor of Rivals.com.

Update: Thanks to the “tipster” who reminded me that a new executive at TechCrunch would be the logical “source” mentioned in the TechCrunch story regarding anything that Fox Interactive Media’s mergers and acquisitions people would have done two years ago. Now I can at least connect the dots on the who…just not on the why.