TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, left distraught after a stranger spat on him at a tech conference in Munich, promised he'd take February off. Two days in, he's having a hard time leaving the Internet.

First the voluble tech blogger, an opinionated chronicler of the obscurest of Web startups, announced BusinessWeek online columnist Sarah Lacy as a substitute writer. Then he said he had to file two more interviews from Davos, the power conference of the world's economic hyperelite. Then he announced another substitute.

This protracted exit makes one wonder: Is Arrington's biggest fear that the Web might not actually miss him? It's a double-edged sword: TechCrunch's overdependence on one outsized personality was a factor in AOL dropping acquisition talks. If he can prove that TechCrunch can carry on without him, then he might be able to unload it on some larger buyer — though surely at a steep discount to the $100 million price he's bandied about. But if he shows that an Arrington-free TechCrunch is a going concern, any acquirer will surely want to fire the erratic founder as soon as the ink dries on the deal, rather than deal with his ongoing emotional outbursts. That would deprive him of the public stature he claims to hate, but so clearly craves. It's a dilemma which is surely the most plausible explanation for Arrington's reluctant exit.