It must be the combination of failed business plans that attracted AOL to purchase The Huffington Post for a reported $315 million. Their first failed business plan “model” was one that involved a hard-left bent on the news, as Air America offered before their meteoric rise to the bottom of the ratings and an inability to pay, thus retain, their affiliates. The other was (is?) the free content model that Al Gore’s Current TV offered, with its mish-mash of viewer-submitted videos created by filmmakers that aspired to be the next Michael Moore…
The Huffington Post was started in May, 2005 by Ariana Huffington and few others, and their business model was (and still is) based on free content from “A-List” celebrities to attract readers, and heaping helpings of content generated by generous left-wing true-believers no one ever heard of along with stories from news sources like the Associated Press. That is the business model that AOL is intent on buying.
In the past, at least one Huffington Post writer tired of working for free and threw a very public tantrum after being refused any compensation after years of submitting free content that was well-regarded in some circles. Then there was the Huffington Post “contributor” that gave his press credentials to a group of union protesters that staged a 10 minute protest at a private mortgage banker meeting in Washington D.C. last month who expressed shock, SHOCK that anyone could take offense at his tactics in what he called “activism journalism.”
I’m not really sure what AOL will be buying, because I fear the various contributors, be they “A-List” or other, will no doubt demand some form of compensation for their efforts, now that the site has been monetized to the tune of $315 million.
In hindsight, it was predictable that Ms. Huffington was preparing to sell the Huffington Post – she launched a few half-hearted “sister websites”, one to be focused on news
targeting geared towards the Black community, and another to be focused on the concerns of small businesses in America.
I have no insight beyond what is in the news, but I can’t help but think that AOL will wake up soon, realize what it has gotten into bed with and will learn the definition of Coyote Ugly… it will likely chew off its own arm to escape a one-night-stand gone horribly, horribly wrong.
The Huffington Post turned profitable in the second quarter of 2010, and apparently went to work immediately executing their exit strategy.
Los Angeles Times: The Message of Air America’s End
Current TV Corporate Website
Huffington Post: Small Business America blog
MayhillFowler.com: Why I Left The Huffington Post
The New York Times: The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post