08/02/2011

By Max Clarke

AOL Inc. [NYSE:AOL] announced yesterday (Monday 7th) that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Huffington Post, the influential and rapidly growing news, analysis, and lifestyle website founded in 2005, which now counts nearly 25 million unique monthly visitors.

News of the merger immediately generated internet hype, drawing widespread skepticism from the Post's many fans: The Huffington Post, the independent champion of American Liberal thought suddenly announcing it was to join the vast AOL media group has taken many by surprise.

"Part of Huffington Post's success was its vibrance and its position outside the establishment. It has now not only joined an establishment, but joined one where most people feel about as close to the brand as they do to Walmart." Wrote The Guardian's Emily Bell in an article published yesterday.

The transaction will create a premier global, national, local, and hyper-local content group for the digital age — leveraged across online, mobile, tablet, and video platforms. The combination of AOL's infrastructure and scale with The Huffington Post's pioneering approach to news and innovative community building among a broad and sophisticated audience will mark a seminal moment in the evolution of digital journalism and online engagement.
The new group will have a combined base of 117 million unique visitors a month in the United States and 270 million around the world. Following the close of this transaction, AOL will accelerate its strategy to deliver a scaled and differentiated array of premium news, analysis, and entertainment produced by thousands of writers, editors, reporters, and videographers around the globe.

As part of the transaction, Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post's Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, will be named President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Black Voices, PopEater, AOL Music,AOL Latino, AutoBlog, Patch, StyleList, and more.

"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 Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL. "Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers."
Armstrong continued, "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."