AOL buys Arianna Huffington’s Huffington Post for $ 315 million, becomes a part of the new American media company

Tim Armstrong with Arianna Huffington after the merger

When Yahoo acquired Associated content for close to 90 million in June 2010, in the aggressive pursuit of positioning itself in the content-generation business, there were speculations that Huffington was next on the radar for Carol Bartz. AOL,  launched Seed as its home-grown alternative for ‘quality’ content generation, augmented it with acquiring StudioNow (so that he had text and video covered) and though Tim Armstrong is an investor in AC, was in all probabilities getting Seed sprout into the biggest content tree on the planet. But Huffington Post was already there, with 26 million visitors in April 2010 alone, according to Comscore. For Yahoo with an eye on Huffington Post’s quality content and videos, it would have been a natural progression. wowElle even speculated about a probable outcome such as this in October 2010 when the media was awash with Carol Bartz’s overtures towards Huffington Post. The very thought of “Should she make that move real soon before Tim Armstrong approaches Ariana with few bundles from the budget he has ear marked for acquisitions in the content space?” has now become  a reality.  In six months, Tim Armstrong has swiftly moved  in and sealed it, with $ 315 million, making it one of the biggest game-changers in online media-space ever.

Ms Huffington seems to have driven a hard bargain making it to the head of a newly  formed  division called Huffington Post Media Group  which would include AOL’s content properties from its local division Patch to its blogs such as TechCrunch (which AOL acquired in December) and Engadget, as well as its homegrown properties, which will be run by Ms. Huffington as president and editor in chief. So effectively, it would also mean Mike Arrington of TechCrunch reporting to Ms Arianna Huffington ! Though AOL and Huffington Post  had been effectively sizing up each other, according to AdAge, the deal moved into its acquisition part at the Quadrangle conference in November 2010.

The newly formed entity within AOL would surely create a premier global/local syndication network on a scale never seen before in the media sphere, with 117MM unduplicated domestic monthly UVs, and ~270MM monthly UVs worldwide (according to comScore Dec 2010). With the newly constituted sub-group inside AOL which Ms. Huffington heads would also come the inevitable clash of the personalities that have grown on founder-personality driven popularity and now in the AOL stable ( read Tech Crunch). Though emotions are flying fast and furious at the newly acquired Technology blog, there is absolute silence as far as its founder is concerned.

Also AOL Media, AOL Local & Mapping and  AOL Search would now be a part of the Huffington Post Media Group  with Ms Huffington joining AOL’s executive team as President and Editor in Chief. With the combined forces serving content across social, local, video, mobile and tablet, for the media and the market watchers can now rest assured that this entity, as far as the organic growth of content-based online consumption is concerned, is headed in the righ direction. And as Ms.Huffington mentioned with her characteristic verve, this one plus one is surely going to be a historical eleven in the history of online content.

Arianna Huffington at the  TOC 2010 , on   “Publishing Is Dead; Long Live Publishing!”

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