The Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington’s news and political focused website, has been acquired by AOL for $315 million — $300 million cash, the rest in stock.

Huff Po began in 2005 with a $1 million investment; it has since grown into one of the most heavily visited news Web sites in the country. The NYT called the deal “an unlikely pairing of two online media giants.” It is the company’s largest acquisition since the break up of AOL Time Warner in 2009.

In a surprise, Arianna Huffington will take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group. The Times notes she will have oversight not only of “AOL’s national, local and financial news operations, but also of the company’s other media enterprises like MapQuest and Moviefone.” The deal was signed on Sunday at the Super Bowl in Dallas, where Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong were watching the game.

AOL owns a series of well-known digital brands, including Mapquest, Politics Daily, the pop-culture news site PopEater, movie-news and ticket reservation service Moviefone, and the tech-news and review sites Engadget and TechCrunch, and local site Patch.com. This is at least the 5th acquisition by AOL since September 2010 (About.me, TechCrunch, 5min Media, Thing Labs).

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Sources:
Betting on News, AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post
JEREMY W. PETERS and VERNE G. KOPYTOFF
NYT, February 7, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/business/media/07aol.html

Category: Financial Press, M&A, Web/Tech

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18 Responses to “AOL Buys HuffPo for $315 Million”

  1. V says:

    Do you think this could be some form of ‘the market is overpriced’ indicator?

    When was the last time AOL purchased anything that didn’t decline in value in the follow years?

  2. It looks to me like an attempt to reinvent itself into a content company.

    It appears they do not want to compete with either Google or Facebook

  3. contrabandista13 says:

    Congratulations to Ariana, she’s beautiful, smart, powerful and now very rich….

    Wow what a babe….!

    Eco

  4. Mind says:

    So now the low-brow, right-leaning tabloidesque AOL persona will evolve into the slightly more hip left-leaning tabloidesque Arianna persona (<- best case scenario).

  5. rktbrkr says:

    FCC access rules have allowed the telcos to turn (former) market leading competitors like AOL, ELNK into road kill and aborted meaningful local telephone competition.

    Huffpo is entertaining,I can’t imagine any improvement in Huffpo resulting from this.

  6. noahmckinnon says:

    New Yorker had a piece about Tim Armstrong and AOL recently:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/24/110124fa_fact_auletta

    I had written AOL off years ago as a corpse that lived off dial-up internet access scraps. Even after I read the NYkr article about how Armstrong wanted to rebrand AOL as a content provider, my mind didn’t changed. I have no idea if the price was fair, but this is as good an acquisition as I could imagine given his intent.

  7. postman says:

    @Mind

    The comments on AOL re the Huff acquisition suggest that biased AOL left-wing commentary will now become even more biased in favor of the left. Interesting that the Big Picture’s comments on Huff are more favorable than those of AOL commentators. Actually, I’ve been rather surprised at the dominant left-wing orientation among BP commentators (e.g. regulation, Obama, Egypt, etc.). Wouldn’t have expected it of financial/trading types.

  8. ashpelham2 says:

    I wasn’t even aware that AOL existed as a viable company. :D

    Seriously, when I see friends or relatives with an AOL account or email, I assume they don’t use computers very much. No offense meant to any AOL-lifers out there.

  9. DeDude says:

    315 million !!!

    There’s your future Barry, websites can be profitable.

  10. Bob A says:

    Don’t understand why the heck she would do this.. how’d AOL work out for Ted Turner?

  11. alnval says:

    IMO HuffPost gets a lot of hits because it understands that not everyone wants to read stuff. Some only want to look. Encouraging people to go to her website is a bit like the early rationalizations for buying Playboy. “The articles are really, really great.” Or, trying to argue that page three has nothing to do with why people buy The Sun. Prurient interest and salaciousness or more simply sex is still what sells.

    Does that really improve the nature of the content? For me, HuffPost’s approach to content has an uneven, scatter-shot character that is easy to put up with or even ignore when placed next to a story (with revealing pictures) about the trials and tribulations of the current male or female heart throb.

    I think Huffington’s genius beyond knowing when to get rid of a husband lies in her ability to recognize how to appeal to a general audience and make them think they want to see what she has to offer. Is she copying Murdoch’s playbook? More power to her if she is. From this perspective it will be interesting to watch the evolution of AOL.

  12. Patrick Neid says:

    How does a company like AOL even have 300 million cash? Unbelievable…

  13. Julia Chestnut says:

    That sight is a pretty shabby aggregator for the most part, in my opinion. The majority of the original content is people with a book or diet plan or magic pill to plug, as near as I can tell. The “health” and “science” sections are a laughingstock.

    I suppose you can tell I am not a fan of the website. I agree that Huffington herself is a very saavy businesswoman and has really made a big gamble pay off in spades. But I can’t stand the website, and I wonder how much of the sycophantic cheerleading for certain things, and the detrimental peddling of woo in some parts of the website, are within her editorial control. If she’s had tight editorial control over the past couple of years, I’m wondering if there will suddenly be a “check which direction your aura says to take!” button on mapquest.

  14. Is this AOL’s answer to Oprah?

    Can those two go head to head or is Oprah just too big at this point?

  15. I tried chewing on the meat at the HuffPo site but found it just too pink

    (and in case you are wondering, because I’m kinda wondering myself, I was referring to content, specifically political, in that line) I know, I know….if you need to explain it….in this case, I need to explain it. Just a hunch for ten years from now, when the totalitarian state is in full bloom and the inquisitors bring out this post on my Googlefile

  16. milkman says:

    Zsa Zsa has a great site. I think it’s the best designed website out there. I’ve been surprised that no one else has improved upon her, especially drudge who could have had a great user interface/opinion site on the other side. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Zsa Zsa is the worst thing about the site. She’s petty, can’t take criticism, has weak minded opinions, and is almost always wrong about everything. Her obnoxious and unrelenting critique of “Laddy Samma’s and Teem Geithna” bordered on obsessive compulsive behavior. But she is the smartest and most beautiful woman in the world….just ask her….

  17. masdf says:

    I hope hope hope her voice will now be used for Moviefone.