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 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.
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.
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.