The Huffington Post has raised an additional $25 million in venture funding, according to a report this morning by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. In a subsequent post, she reports that the Huff Post has formally announced the news.
In January, I interviewed Huff Post investor and board member Eric Hippeau of SoftBank about the value of the media property for venture capitalists. I've republished the interview today.
Update 12/2: Ad Age's Michael Learmonth says that Huff Post now has more value than some big newspaper companies.
-- Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
Paul Katz * Huffington Post * Yentl 25th Year Anniversary
On Monday, veteran media executive Greg Coleman will get to work at the Huffington Post as President and Chief Revenue Officer. His joining is part of an expansion the site's business operation, Eric Hippeau, CEO, told me earlier this week.
Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
CNN**** has taken notice of the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast as "opinion destinations" and wants to be a "horse in that race," CNN**** General Manager KC Estenson told me last night, after the industry introduction of the revamped CNN**** site.
Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
If 80 percent of success is just showing up -- two Democratic consultants are trying to give the The Huffington Post a run for their money.
Peter Daou and James Boyce say they came up with the idea of a political website - where public figures would be invited to blog...
...during a meeting at co-founder Arianna Huffington’s house in December of 2004. They accuse Huffington and business partner Ken Lerer of presenting collaborated ideas as their own. (Video from MobLogic TV)
Daou and Boyce are filing suit against Huffington and Lerer -- saying the latter violated a “handshake agreement” to work together on the site. And the stakes could be high -- Forbes reports the left-leaning blog was valued at $100 million in 2008.
Politico - which broke the story - suggests the suit presents problems for the site’s heads.
“The complaint is a direct challenge to the left’s most important media property ... And it challenges Huffington’s own oft-told story of coming up with the idea in conversation with Lerer and other friends.”
And the accusation is being met with more than a few skeptics. Panelists on MSNBC’s Morning Joe -- where Arianna Huffington is a frequent guest -- say they aren’t buying Daou and Boyce’s story.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: “Their credibility is undercut a bit by, they also claim to have written half the songs since Sgt. Pepper and said they created the atomic bomb and the Feds owe them, like $28,000.”
PANELIST: “I had an assistant working with Ken Lerer in his office, and basically the two of them were really generating this website on their own. Arianna was doing it out of her blog. It’s an absurd idea, and it was Ken and Arianna did this thing together. It’s just not right to say it was stolen.”
In a statement Huffington called the suit a -quote- “completely absurd, ludicrous supposition” by two men who’d been refused jobs at the site. And Business Insider’s Henry Blodget says beyond that -- Daou and Boyce are going to have a hard time making their case look legitimate in the court of public opinion.
“We do find it curious that Daou and Boyce waited six years to make this claim. And, from a legal perspective, we note that ‘handshake agreements’ are the equivalent of the ‘dorm-room chitchat’ that a judge ridiculed in the Facebook case.”
But Daou and Boyce aren’t the only ones claiming responsibility for The Huffington Post’s success.
Earlier this year, conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart told Wired Magazine it was actually HE who came up with the idea.
...which led a writer for Mediaite to conclude -- if you really think about it -- The Huffington Post model wasn’t really ANYBODY’S idea.
“At this point, it seems like everybody but Tina Brown invented what we now know as The Huffington Post. ... the truth is that it probably wasn’t invented, only discovered —its model was an inevitable one that was simply waiting to be used.”
Who’s telling the truth? And who’s huffing and posting?
Get more multi-source media and entertainment news from Newsy****.
Transcript by Newsy****
BY SAMANTHA MCCLENDON
You're watching multisource business news analysis from Newsy
EXTRA EXTRA... read all about it!! AOL officially bought The Huffington Post for a whopping $315 million... 300 of those million will be paid in cold hard cash. MSNBC says AOL is struggling so... it’s probably about time.
NICOLE LAPIN: "A big surprise though I will say. AOL has been on this shopping spree guys. I was reading a commentary this morning that called it the last scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid where AOL is trying to hang on surrounded by the Bolivian Army and has no choice but to make this move.”
Tech Buzz Blog says the price tag alone is impressive -- calling it the biggest blog acquisition ever.
“This also makes AOL the biggest blog content producer today – they now own Engadget, TechCrunch and HuffPo and many more — the big names in the blogosphere.”
Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post co-founder -- told the Wall Street Journal, AOL shares her vision.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: “This is my last act. Well I’ve had many incarnations ever since Athens, Greece, England, here, books, television and this is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.”
AOL will make Huffington the editor in chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which means she’ll control all of the editorial content for AOL. A writer for The Daily Beast says there is a difference between being the owner and being an employee.
“It's the difference between a mother and a babysitter. They both love their kid, but only one will race into a burning building to save it. Especially with a swollen bank account back home.”
The Huffington Post gets 500 million views a month, and some say this is a great opportunity for AOL to use that viewership for advertising. One writer for Talk Left says this could be good business for AOL.
“I actually like the idea, but then, I'm one of the few people I know who still uses an AOL e-mail account. So aside from the merger reassuring me that AOL isn't going out of business anytime soon, what does it mean for the news, other than a behomoth conglomerate?”
That’s exactly why a reporter for Bloomberg questions whether this is a smart move for AOL.
“We know that Huffington has some strong political views and is there a risk for AOL in putting someone in charge of editorial content with those views if traditionally they’ve had a non-partisan approach?”
“We will see.”
This is AOL's biggest acquisition since it parted ways from Time Warner. So what do you think? Will the Huffington Post still keep its flavor? Or will the new ownership water it down?
Get more multisource video news analysis from Newsy
The comedy video website Funny or Die, humor site 23/6 and The Huffington Post have teamed up to create Huff or Die, accessible at funnyordie****/huffordie, to showcase their best political humor videos and blog posts. Funny or Die made the announcement last week.
At the Omma Global conference last month I spoke with CEO Dick Glover about the site's soaring traffic this summer. In August, when the company launched Paris Hilton's response to McCain's celebrity ad--which rocketed to become its fourth most popular video of all time--the site saw 8 million unique visitors. Glover told me he expected September to be just as strong.
The charged political environment is giving the site plenty of fodder, and other political videos like Gina Gerson's spoof of Sarah Palin are also helping drive traffic.
The site's recent growth extends beyond monthly visitors: Funny or Die launched a British version of its site late last month featuring BBC comedy Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Williams. The US version frequently features its founders, Will Ferrel and Anchorman co-star Adam McKay.
--Kelsey Blodget, Associate Producer
Eat the Press editor Rachel Sklar will be leaving The Huffington Post after the election to work on her book, according to a report on Gawker today. Andy interviewed Sklar at the TimeWarner Politics 08 summit earlier this week about online video at The Huffington Post and expansions underway at the site.
Andy asked Sklar if the site's current soaring traffic will be sustainable after the election, and she responded that the site's many verticals give it a broader appeal than just politics. "Obviously politics has been a huge driver in that, but we're very diversified. That's what they say in a market like this, you need to diversify your portfolio. So we're diversified," she says.
--Kelsey Blodget, Associate Producer
The Huffington Post, launched by Arianna Huffington, is a social media site where millions comment a month. James Smith, the Chief Revenue Officer of Huffpost, gives an overview of the importance the Huffington Post and the news it discusses has on social evolution. James touches upon how publishers can take advantage of not only the negative but also the positive affects of social media.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
NEW YORK -- NBC’s local media division plans to launch its local broadcast Web sites this summer, including one in New York.
Separately, we have learned that the Huffington Post is expanding its local strategy. Having established its first local site in Chicago, its New York site will launch in June.
NBC rolled out new sites for its 10-owned stations starting last fall and now will give all those sites an additional face lift in the coming months to add social media features, improve Web distribution and make them more community-focused.
The New York NBC site is up, but is still in beta.
For its New York effort, NBC is teaming with New York magazine and other content partners.
Since the initial site revamp in the fall, NBC has more than tripled the traffic to its locally owned sites, said Brian Buchwald, senior VP of local integrated media at NBC.
“With our Web brand, which we call locals only, it’s about micro-targeting a select group we call ‘social capitalists,’” Buchwald explained. That audience likes to dine out, be involved in their city and consume media, primarily online, he said.
To sustain its hyper local strategy of “city Web sites,” NBC relies on its stations, content from partners like Politico and a freelance network of 60 writers and video journalists.
Logo_nbc_new_york The media company is focusing its ad efforts for the sites on brand marketers. Buchwald said by managing the sites internally rather than relying on a third party, NBC has reduced the cost to manage the sites by 20% to 40%.
The new approach is a necessity give the overall contraction in the TV station business, with the Web being the one bright spot. Local media research firm Borrell Associates said TV stations generated $1 billion in ad revenue on their Web sites last year. That number should rise to $1.3 billion this year, representing a 26% jump.
“You have to fish where the fish are and to reach a younger audience and people engaged in their cities to have a web site that reaches them makes good business sense,” Buchwald said.
NBC Local is Gearing Up with New Staffers
NBC has been hiring staff and local editors from the Associated Press Washington Post, Miami Herald and Valleywag, according to Gregory Gittrich, editor-in-chief of the new network. He is also in this video interview. Gregg came to NBC from The Daily News where he was Deputy Managing Editor.
More on the Local Media Trend
Read this report by David Kaplan at paidContent.
Daisy Whitney, Senior Producer
Corporate Social Responsibility News: Accenture Report Shows Sustainability Helps Business; CSRHub to Launch Sustainability Ratings Widget on Huffington Post and Triple Pundit.
Watch this and other CSR Minute podcasts: *******3blmedia****/3bltv
Betsy Morgan joined us in our NYC studio for a live video webcast. During our Shallow Thoughts segment, she talked about the things that she is excited by, from fashion site Gilt to web analytics company Chartbeat. Watch the show at *******www.scribemedia****/shows/naked-media/