February 7, 2011

AOL Agrees To Buy Huffington Post

American Internet provider AOL has agreed to purchase online news website The Huffington Post for $315 million dollars, the two companies announced on Monday.

Roughly $300 million of the deal will be paid in cash, AOL said in a statement. Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington will be named president and editor-in-chief of the newly formed Huffington Post Media Group, which will feature content from both partners in the deal. That will include the popular technology blogs Engadget and TechCrunch, as well as Moviefone, MapQuest, and others.

In a press release announcing the transaction, the Huffington Post Media Group claims that it will provide content to 117 million customers in the US and 270 million worldwide.

"The acquisition of The Huffington Post will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community, and social experiences for consumers," Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL, said in a statement. "Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers."

"This is truly a merger of visions and a perfect fit for us," added Huffington. "The Huffington Post will continue on the same path we have been on for the last six years--though now at light speed--by combining with AOL. Our readers will still be able to come to the Huffington Post at the same URL, and find all the same content they've grown to love, plus a lot more--more local, more tech, more entertainment, more finance, and lots more video."

"We are fusing a legendary and powerful new media brand with a vibrant, innovative news organization, known for its distinctive voice, a highly engaged audience, an expertise in community-building, and a track record for demystifying the news and putting flesh and blood on the data while drawing our audience into the conversation," she continued. "By uniting AOL and The Huffington Post, we are creating one of the largest destinations for smart content and community on the Internet. And we intend to keep making it better and better."

Reaction to the announcement has been mixed.

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke called the move "a bold bet on the future of online news" on AOL's part, while Jemima Kiss of The Guardian pondered "What the hell is AOL doing?" and said that the Huffington Post acquisition had "echoes of previous failed strategies."

Conversely, technology analyst Rob Enderle told Liedtke, "This is one of those out-of-left-field moves that actually makes a lot of sense. This could put AOL back on the map."

While the Huffington Post is privately owned, the transaction is subject to government approval, according to the AFP. The deal is expected to be closed late in the first or early second quarter of this year, according to a report by Anthony Boadle of Reuters.


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