If AOL buys Mashable — or just sells the monster tech blog's ads — it will be banking less on journalism than on the site's network of members, Twitter fans and party groupies. Banking, that is, on Pete Cashmore's hotness.

It's not a terrible investment; Cashmore's panting fans ogle him at Mashable parties, endlessly retweet his site's articles and even post topless pictures of themselves on Mashable's burgeoning (and infamous) internal social network. Details showed how the vest-loving Scot reels in the ladies (and money-hungry male entrepreneurs) in the magazine's Oct. 2008 article, "Playboys of Tech:"

At the party, Cashmore high-fives his fans, throws himself into two-armed hugs, and drapes his arms around swooning women. There's a line of people waiting to be photographed with him...Cashmore's photographer, Mike, gets yelled at by a couple of girls because he didn't take their picture with Cashmore...[Cashmore:] "There are competitive advantages to this kind of visibility, you know."

Naturally: Within eight months, Cashmore and his female-heavy (for tech) audience had surpassed Mike Arrington's TechCrunch to become the most popular tech blog, at least according to Compete.com and Quantcast. The lead has since widened. But could AOL maintain it without Mashable's party-boy-in-chief? Not immediately; if the newly-independent internet conglomerate does buy Mashable, expect a long earn-out for Cashmore.

The lock-up agreement must eventually come to an end, of course, but perhaps by then AOL will have found another smoldering young editor to take over the site. Here are some Cashmore pictures that should help with the recruiting — and that show just what sort of attactive powers AOL is purportedly eyeballing:

Never let your date near Pete Cashmore, Exhibit A. By Andy Sternberg.

Never let your date near Pete Cashmore, Exhibit B. By Heather Muffy.

Also: Never let your mom near Pete Cashmore. Photo by tinythoughts on Flickr.

Don't even let your corporate mascot near Pete Cashmore. Photo by Brian Solis/bub.licio.us.

With "eve" and mbaratz from Flickr.

With "Alyssa and Stella." Photo by psuedoreid on Flickr.

Even when his soul leaves his body, as his blank eyes reveal in this shot, Cashmore has to beat them off with a stick.

As our commenters said, "mashable indeed."

With actress Lauran Niles, apparently at a Mashable event, photo by Marc Salsberry.

They like to make him smile, the ladies. Photo by Andrei Zmievski.

Can't you monsters ever leave Cashmore and miscellaneous ladyfriend alone?? He's only a man. Photo by Brian Solis/Bub.blicio.us)

Can't a man talk to the host of the chest of the Midwest Teen Sex Show at a Valleywag party without having his picture... eh, nevermind, the outraged question answers itself.

Always a gentleman...

...even when in close proximity to man-sweat...

...or a superior vest on a fellow metrosexual entrepreneur.

Come hither, sugar. (Photo by Andrew Mager)

What it means to be fully vested. Photo by Brian Solis/Bub.blicio.us.