AOL has acquired The Huffington Post, one of the biggest content networks on the web, for $315 million. HuffPo co-founder Arianna Huffington is now editor-in-chief of all of AOL’s content properties.
The move is the latest, and possibly the boldest move AOL has made into the content production industry. AOL counts The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, Autoblog, Fanhouse, Patch, and Seed among its major content properties. Other recent AOL acquisitions include About.me and Goviral.
The HuffPo acquisition also marks the creation of a new entity called The Huffington Post Media Group Which Will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content, including news, tech, women, local, multicultural, entertainment, video, community, etc. According to a press release from AOL, the new group will reach 117 million Americans and 270 million people globally.
"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," said AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. "Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers."
"Arianna is a singularly passionate and dedicated champion of innovative journalistic engagement, and a master of the art of using new media to illuminate, entertain and enhance the national conversation. Arianna is a remarkable person and she will continue to create remarkable outcomes for the combined company."
"This is truly a merger of visions and a perfect fit for us," said 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 added. "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."
Here are a few bullet points AOL shared with its staff in an internal memo about the acquisition (provided by AOL’s TechCrunch):
– 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 or 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.
AOL released its 4th quarter earnings last week, beating estimates at $596 million in total revenue.