AOL has placed a big bet on content going forward. And now it's swallowed Blog Queen Arianna Huffington and her traffic magnet, six-year-old privately-held The Huffington Post, into its vast maw, paying $315 million. Here's Huffington and ATD's Kara Swisher, who interviewed Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong at the Super Bowl, where the deal was consummated just after midnight (video below). According to Variety:
Huffington will become prexy and CEO of the newly created Huffington Post Media Group, which will integrate AOL's existing content with Huffington Post's various sections. The partners said the combined entity would have a base of 117 million unique users per month in the U.S. and 270 million around the world. Huffington said Monday "it was like stepping off a fast train and onto a super-sonic jet...It is amazing how aligned (the two companies) are. It's just a perfect fit." She said she has no plans to leave the company. "I told Tim I want to stay forever," she said. "I want this to be the last act of my life."
"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," said Huffington. "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."
Here's Huffington's blog post:
At the first meeting of our senior team this year, I laid out the five areas on which I wanted us to double down: major expansion of local sections; the launch of international Huffington Post sections (beginning with HuffPost Brazil); more emphasis on the growing importance of service and giving back in our lives; much more original video; and additional sections that would fill in some of the gaps in what we are offering our readers, including cars, music, games, and underserved minority communities...
Remember my New Year's resolution? It's coming true -- and it's only the beginning of February. Let's go down the checklist: Local? AOL's Patch.com covers 800 towns across America, providing an incredible infrastructure for citizen journalism in time for the 2012 election, and a focus on community and local solutions that have been an integral part of HuffPost's DNA. Check.
Original video? AOL's just finished building a pair of state-of-the-art video studios in New York and LA, and video views on AOL have gone up 400 percent over the last year. Check. More sections? AutoBlog, Music, AOL Latino, Black Voices, etc, etc, etc. fill gaps in HuffPost's coverage. Add all that to what HuffPost is doing with social, community, mobile, as well as our commitment to innovative original reporting and beyond-left-and-right commentary, and the blending will have a multiplier effect. Or, as Tim and I have been saying over the last couple of weeks: 1 + 1 = 11.
And here's Kara Swisher: