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The great Huffington Post exodus

February 7, 2011

So AOL has decided to pay $315 million dollars for the Huffington Post? Wow. I am in absolute awe of the incredible stupidity of AOL executives. Have these people lost their freaking minds? They are shelling out tons of cash for a site that is essentially a left-wing version of the Drudge Report with commenting & social media plugins? Amazing!

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post itself produces very little notable content and has obtained a bad reputation for leeching off of other sites by dubious linking practices and content usage.

The Huffington Post, a venture-capital-backed new media site that mixes links to other sites content with hundreds of celebrity and volunteer blogger posts, is being accused of slimy business practices by a handful of smaller publications who say the site is unfairly copying and publishing their content.

And this sort of site is what the AOL executives are willing to shell out a third of a billion dollars for? I’m so glad I don’t own stock in that company. If I did, I’d have already dumped it.

Digg and Reddit: A Tale of Caution
The dumb executives at AOL seem blithely unaware of what happened when Digg changed its site and angered its users. Tons of them fled to Reddit and left Digg a pale echo of what it had once been. Digg still hasn’t recovered from the debacle and I doubt it ever will.

Do the AOL executives even understand that first thing about the Huffington Post’s readers? The folks that go there don’t generally like corporations and certainly not a large one like AOL. The HP readers lean left in their politics and might perceive this to be the beginning of the end of the site, as they’ve known it. Some of them are already thinking about bugging out to greener pastures.

Here’s a sampling of comments from the announcement article about the AOL acquisition:

Lulo: See ya!!!…. (Shortest way to express my feelings about this sale)

dansup: so long huffpo, been nice knowin ya

digital: Corporate media in action

Esmerelda Foofypants: All I can say is that I hope the Huffington Post pays close attention to the anxiety and dismay that fill the vast majority of these comments. Please, please heed the tone of your audience’s response to the news of this merger, and don’t abandon the ideals that drew that audience to this website in the first place.

Natuska: This move shows that perhaps the HP founders didnt quite understand the HP reader base as well as they thought: a key attraction of HP was that it wasn’t part of a huge sprawling media empire.

gocoastal: Corporate takeovers of independen­t media will always spell the end of independen­t media. I’ll give it some time, but I predict I will be cancelling my membership here within the next 6 months…

Topedoa54: Adios H.P. Can’t say it’s been real fun.

jaleh: Continuati­on of America’s take over by corporatio­ns!

michaelejahn: This will be my last comment of the Huffington Post. AOL is a wasteland. Unsubscrib­ing today. What a pity to learn that I have lost a friend. Bye bye Arianna, we hardly knew ya.

CocoaHuff: mass exodus

And those are just ten comments selected at random. The comments totaled more than 80 pages already as I write the column, with most of them seeming to be against the AOL acquisition. There seems to be a tidal wave of anger coming from Huffington Post readers and its headed right for AOL.

Does anybody think that the Huffington Post will be able to continue as a viable site if the vast majority of its readers that are angry about this bail out for greener pastures? Did the AOL executives stop to consider any of this before they bought the site? I doubt it on both counts.

Arianna: Progressive Heroine or Self-Serving Opportunist?
Even if a mass exodus occurs on Huffington Post, I doubt Arianna Huffington will care since she has made her money and can laugh all the way to the bank. You have to admire her ability to convince people that she was a progressive heroine all this time. She has managed to adroitly leverage the left-wing political base in the United States to turn a cheesy celebrity blogging site into a gigantic profit opportunity for herself.

I think that some of the Huffington Post’s readers once considered it as a truly progressive alternative to the mainstream media and had faith that Arianna would steward the site in a way that would give progressives a powerful voice in Internet media. But was that ever really true? I doubt it, given this deal.

It’s much more likely that Arianna Huffington planned to sell out right from the beginning. She appears to have astutely conned her left-leaning readers into believing that her site was an alternative to the corporate media while quietly laying the groundwork behind the scenes to dump the site to the biggest corporate bidder she could find.

Is Arianna Greedy?

Is Arianna Greedy?

Good for you, Arianna. You’ve managed to make yourself a bundle of money, but I doubt you’ll ever have the same kind of credibility as a progressive voice that you had before. It’s pretty tough to rail on about the evils of corporate America when you have hundred dollar bills falling out of your pocket as you walk around.

Layoffs at the Huffington Post?
One has to wonder what will happen to the employees of the Huffington Post. When a corporate entity like AOL takes over, layoffs usually follow (especially in this awful economy). Corporate executives love to wield the axe after taking over a company. Nothing pleases them more than “cost cutting” to “improve efficiencies.”

There’s no doubt that Arianna will walk away with her pockets stuffed full of cash, but will her loyal employees be able to say the same? I doubt it. If I were one of her employees, I’d make sure that my resume was updated and that I had at least a year’s worth of expenses saved up, just in case AOL decides to go on a head-chopping rampage inside the Huffington Post.

Layoffs in the works at the Huffington Post?

Layoffs in the works at the Huffington Post?

We’ll find out in due time if AOL is going to begin layoffs at the Huffington Post. I wish all of the Huffington Post employees a lot of luck though; it’s rough out there.

Given all the cash she has, I wonder what kind of wonderful severance packages Arianna Huffington will offer her former employees?

What’s your take on AOL buying the Huffington Post? Tell me in the comments below.


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10 Responses to The great Huffington Post exodus

  1. Richard on July 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    AOL’s acquisition of the Huffington Post (for $315 million) was a great move. Prior to this acquisition one could only receive the wisdom of Marx, Ingles and Trotsky; now with the advent of Arianna Huffington’s progressive guide one can also be given the vast knowledge of Mao, Pol Pot, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and that great bulwark of progressive freedom Stalin. An added benefit is that Arianna being born in Greece has no constraints in eliminating that nasty little impediment to achieving the socialist utopia, the First Amendment. Arianna however does not limit herself only to leftist agitation. Indeed her credentials as a serious activist were nurtured when she was a disciple of Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (the Rajneesh cult spread potentially lethal Salmonella bacteria in a small Oregon town. Rajneesh cult members did this as a way of infecting and incapacitating town residents on Election Day so that cult voters could win control of the local government). Additionally Arianna is an ordained minister of the John-Roger cult, the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and her mother Elli was active in the Communist-led Greek resistance. Arianna a comrade in arms with the common man manages her numerous progressive activities from the confines of her small and ill equipped $7-million house.

  2. Ajay on June 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Haha, funny how Gerry claims that Engadget is “sanguine at the purchase,” only for essentially their entire editorial team to leave soon after. :lol: I completely agree with Jim, the AOL execs must be smoking crack, first the ridiculous Bebo acquisition price and then paying hundreds of millions for the shit site that is HuffPo. I wonder what we’d do if we didn’t have AOL and their continued fuckups to laugh at. :smile:

  3. jesse on April 26, 2011 at 11:03 am

    who would turn down 300+ million? Sorry you lost your ‘indie’ site that had 10s of millions of uniques, but that’s what happens. It’s called Capitalism, and it gives small business owners like myself hope. I’m happy for huffpo and their investors. AOL will learn soon enough, that when corporations buy co’s that are ‘cool and indie and raging against the machine’ that it’s defeatist, as…well, they are the machine.

  4. Jim on March 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Did I call this right or what? I wonder how many will be laid at the Huffington Post? I wonder how much of her money Arianna will give to the folks that are getting the axe?

    :whistle: :sad: :blink:

    “Nearly 200 people will be cut from AOL Media’s US operation, the company’s CEO announced today, mostly from the editorial side since the purchase of the Huffington Post makes a lot of the editorial staff redundant.

    Those cuts come on top of 700 job cuts in the company’s Indian operations – 400 straight layoffs and 300 “transitioning to outsourcing partners,” according to an internal memo obtained by Business Insider.

    “Today, we are announcing an organizational structure that will significantly improve AOL’s ability to focus on growth,” AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said. “The structure will also impact areas of our team — making the decision to reduce staff levels is a necessary part of rebalancing our workforce to be competitive in our industry.”


  5. Jim on March 4, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Well, Arianna has pretty much told her bloggers to go screw themselves.



    “Arianna Huffington scoffed at a group of unpaid Huffington Post contributors that announced on Wednesday they would stop contributing content to the site, weeks after its $315 million sale to AOL was announced.

    Huffington, speaking alongside AOL chief Tim Armstrong at PaidContent’s 2011 Conference in New York on Thursday, dismissed the notion that all bloggers should be paid, given the wide platform HuffPo gives them.”

  6. Jim on March 3, 2011 at 11:51 am

    It seems that some of the content slaves at the Huffington Post are angry about not being paid. I predict a lawsuit at some point. :whistle:

    Show us the money, say unpaid Huffington Post contributors

    March 2, 2011 | 7:23 pm

    Op-Ed columnist Tim Rutten took Arianna Huffington to task for HuffPo’s business model (unpaid writers) after her company merged with AOL for $315 million. He wrote:

    The Huffington Post is a brilliantly packaged product with a particular flair for addressing the cultural and entertainment tastes of its overwhelmingly liberal audience. To grasp its business model, though, you need to picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates. Given the fact that its founder, Huffington, reportedly will walk away from this acquisition with a personal profit of as much as $100 million, it makes all the Post’s raging against Wall Street plutocrats, crony capitalism and the Bush and Obama administrations’ insensitivities to the middle class and the unemployed a bit much.

    The fact is that AOL and the Huffington Post simply recapitulate in the new media many of the worst abuses of the old economy’s industrial capitalism — the sweatshop, the speedup and piecework; huge profits for the owners; desperation, drudgery and exploitation for the workers. No child labor, yet, but if there were more page views in it…


  7. Jim on February 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    atheistinchief, don’t feel too bad. I tried to post a link to this column in their announcement thread about AOL and I don’t think they ever published it. I wasn’t surprised. :lol:

  8. atheistinchief on February 20, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I wrote a comment on hp saying that I hated the fact that they kept censoring my comments and told them that I hoped that Keith Olbermann would start a similar blog with no censorship and that I would treat clicking on HP on my favorites bar as a bad habit and stop it.

    They censored my comment. never published it.

    I click on that button only once a day now and don’t read anything just check out the front page.
    I’m waiting for Olbermann to destroy the geniuses at AOL.

  9. henry dubb on February 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    What I want to know if those AOL paying members will have to pay extra for Huffington Post.

  10. Gerry Allen on February 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    The folks at engadget and techcrunch seem sanguine at the purchase. As for the posts at the HP — any topic no matter how benign will attract thousands of negative responses. The rest of your post is uncharitable, baseless speculation disguised as ignorant wool-gathering. You were a journalist once; what happened?

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