The Huffington Post has agreed to sell itself to AOL for $315 million, according to the New York Times. Arianna Huffington will assume control over AOL’s entire content empire, which includes heavyweights like TechCrunch, Endgadget, the hyperlocal community news sites Patch, and many others.
The deal has the potential to create an enterprise that could reach more than 100 million visitors in the United States each month. For The Huffington Post, which began as a liberal blog with a small staff but now draws some 25 million visitors every month, the sale represents an opportunity to reach new audiences. For AOL, which has been looking for ways to bring in new revenue as its dial-up Internet access business declines, the millions of Huffington Post readers represent millions in potential advertising dollars.
All eyeballs are essentially going through AOL owned sites now. They are helping to drive the conversation and to me, that’s a little bit scary. And the reason that proposition is scary is because of this:
From the memo Tim Armstrong has just sent to all AOL staffers: “The Huffington Post is core to our strategy and our 80:80:80 focus – 80% of domestic spending is done by women, 80% of commerce happens locally and 80% of considered purchases are driven by influencers. The influencer part of the strategy is important and will be potent.”
Or put another way, “we bought the Huffington Post because it’s full of important women who buy things”.
The Huffington Post will hopefully transform itself into a legitimate news organization and hire top-flight political reporters and other good writers for their other beats, which you know, means paying people. The other positive of this is that AOL can maybe consolidate their content places under one umbrella. We’ll see. It’s doubtful. Because, like John Gruber so sarcastically and succinctly says, “they deserve each other.”
One thing is certain, however. Can we please stop referring to the Huffington Post as a blog?