Arianna Huffington will be editor in chief of all AOL Web content; TechCrunch didn't get the early memo
AOL's purchase of the Huffington Post was a surprise to many, including one of AOL's top properties -- TechCrunch.
Tim Armstrong, AOL's chief executive, sent a memo at midnight (Eastern time) to all AOL employees announcing the deal, except TechCrunch.
"They don't trust us with anything," wrote Erick Schonfeld, co-editor at TechCrunch.
The scoop on the AOL purchase of the Huffington Post was given to All Things Digital, the tech website owned by News Corp.
Armstrong and Arianna Huffington even sat down with All Things Digital for an exclusive video interview at the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas, where the agreement was signed.
Though he wasn't included in the original e-mail blast for the HuffPo/AOL memo, Schonfeld got a copy of the message and wrote about it for the tech news and rumor website.
Schonfeld said that "in between the corporate speak" Armstrong outlines an organizational structure with Arianna Huffington serving as Editor In Chief of all of AOL's media properties, including TechCrunch and and its colleague/competitor Engadget, as well as other popular sites such as Autoblog, Joystiq and Moviefone, among others.
Looks like Schonfeld will have a new boss.
We are taking another major step in the comeback of AOL. Today we are announcing that we have agreed to acquire The Huffington Post, one of the most exciting, influential, and fastest growing properties on the Internet. We believe in brands, quality journalism, and the positive role of communities in the world—The Huffington Post shares our values and the combination of the two companies will create the premier global and local media company on the Internet.
Co-founded six years ago by Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer, The Huffington Post has grown to become an industry leader—one of the Web’s most popular and innovative sources of online news, commentary, and information. Arianna and team have created a brand and a destination that focuses on the consumer experience. By combining The Huffington Post with AOL’s network of sites, thriving video offerings, local expertise and enormous reach, we will create a company that is laser-focused on serving our audiences across every platform imaginable – social, local, video, mobile and tablet.
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.
The Huffington Post is a strong influencer brand and it attracts a valuable audience, including a great focus on women's content. In addition, Arianna Huffington is a world-renowned expert on women's topics and issues, and has enabled The Huffington Post to grow rapidly by continually developing new audiences.
In the local area, the combination of the two companies will create a scaled connection between global and local communities on one platform. This will create a new way for people to get local and global information in a timely and entertaining way.
The Huffington Post will join the family of AOL Brands that are destinations for an influencer audience, brands like TechCrunch, Engadget, AutoBlog, and Moviefone. Uniquely, The Huffington Post is the platform for influential people — the people that drive trends, commerce, politics, entertainment, news, and information. Adding this strategic platform to our already strong network of sites, including the AOL homepage, has the potential to make AOL the most influential company in the content space.
Arianna Huffington is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Internet space and someone that is even more successful in building communities and relationships in every corner of the globe. The Huffington Post and Arianna have created a company that has partnered with the most successful and well-known leaders in all aspects of society that touch important topics to give consumers direct access to the most influential decision makers and community leaders.
This acquisition will create a high-quality and diverse digital ecosystem encompassing local, national and international news, politics, entertainment, technology, fashion, sports, health, personal finance, green, lifestyle, the arts and more. This deal will combine the amazing talent at AOL with the innovative and talented staff of The Huffington Post. Here are just a few high-level points around what this deal brings to market:
* Together, AOL and The Huffington Post will have 117MM unduplicated domestic monthly UVs, and ~270MM monthly UVs worldwide (according to comScore Dec 2010).
* The Huffington Post is one of the fastest growing web properties on the Internet. It grew 22% last year – that's faster than Twitter, which grew 18% – and 15x as quickly as the Internet grew last year (comScore Dec '09-'10).
* Both AOL and The Huffington Post count powerful, affluent users among their top loyal visitors, significantly over-indexing in $100K+ income users.
* AOL passed Hulu in unique viewers on video in the fourth quarter of 2010; video views on AOL are up 400 percent year-over-year.
* Between AOL's innovative Project Devil ad unit, engaging users for 27 seconds longer than traditional display ads, and The Huffington Post's highly-vocal community, with 4MM+ comments per month, we will marry attention-grabbing content and brand experiences for both advertisers and consumers.
In the local area, the combination of the two companies will create a premier global/local syndication network at scale. This will create a new way for people to get local and global information in a timely, informative and entertaining way.
To maximize the strategic advantage of this great deal, we will be creating a new group at AOL called The Huffington Post Media Group. Within this group will be AOL Media, AOL Local & Mapping, AOL Search and our new friends at The Huffington Post. We will continue operating the towns structure, AOL.com and HuffingtonPost.com.
I'm thrilled to announce that Arianna Huffington will join AOL's executive team as President and Editor in Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group. We have asked Jon Brod to lead the overall operational integration on the AOL side of the combined entities. Jon will lead the local group integration and work closely with David Eun and the teams in AOL Media. We will work quickly with The Huffington Post to create a combined organizational design to coincide with the deal closing. While we wait for the required regulatory reviews to be completed and the transaction to close before implementing the design, we will move very quickly to plan the details of the integration of the two companies. To this end, we will announce the new organizational structure as soon as possible.
In the meantime, we will continue creating great content and products for our consumers within the town structure and stay laser-focused on the aggressive goals we have set for our winter luge. We are on the right track and will continue our weekly operating cadence and town structure to drive successful results against our company goals.
Here's a special message for all of you we taped to welcome The Huffington Post and Arianna to our AOL Family:
And of course we wanted to welcome Arianna to our "You've Got" video of the day—check her out on AOL.com.
We will be holding a company all hands meeting to address your questions related to today's exciting news. We will video conference from our New York office on the 6th Floor at 9:30 AM ET and will be joined by Arianna Huffington and key executives from her organization. We will also be holding a call for our west coast offices at 2:00 PM ET and for our Patch offices at 2:45 PM ET. See below for meeting info (conference rooms will be sent out shortly).
AOL is playing to win…and The Huffington Post and AOL will occupy a unique place in the future of the Internet. Let's go get it done.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, and Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, at AOL headquarters in New York on Feb. 7, 2011. AOL Inc. agreed to buy the Huffington Post for $315 million as the Internet company spun off from Time Warner Inc. increases its investments in online content to help revive growth in advertising revenue. Credit: Jin Lee / Bloomberg