The dial-up ISP has reinvented itself as a news portal, and can now claim a founder of one large news site as its editor in chief of its prior acquisitions, including TechCrunch and Engadget.
Aol. has made the Huffington Post the most recent in its blog collection, as was announced on Monday. After concluding the purchase on Super Bowl Sunday, the deal was announced the next day on the New York Times, for one, at $315 million.
Chief executive Tim Armstrong has made it a principal concern to collect high traffic news sites and make Aol. a revitalised content portal. By enfolding the Huffington Post into the strategy, he acquires one of the most heavily visited news sites in the US - Aol’s biggest purchase since it separated from Time Warner in 2009.
Arianna Huffington will remain in control of her original namesake, as well as control other Aol. content as president and editor-in-chief of the new Huffington Post Media Group. Along with co-founding the Post in 2005 with Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti, the author and political commentator was a previous hopeful candidate for California governor in 2003.
The success of this union of a former industry-leading ISP turned irrelevant content gatherer and a surprisingly successful news site in an age of failing journalistic ventures is subject to much conjecture. Tim Armstrong is counting on the HuffPo’s skillful search engine optimization, according to Slate Tuesday. He also pushed for an SEO checker across most Aol content. “He believes this will yield a big payoff for AOL; 40 percent of its traffic, the memo says, will come from search engines.”
But SEO will only drive traffic as long as it takes for search engine tech to improve to evaluate actual semantics and content. For this reason, Slate’s author expects that those HuffPo articles which use less than honest keyword usage will find their efficacy dwindling.
The Daily Beast is more blunt in its condemnation of the deal. “It’s a slow-motion train wreck and will end in disaster,” Dan Lyons rages. Since Arianna will run other Aol-owned blogs like TechCrunch, Lyons predicts the competition will lead to personality clashes. He also sees future trouble between sales-numbers-loving Tim Armstrong and story-driven journalists. According to Lyons, “no great storyteller has ever been someone who started out by thinking about traffic numbers and search engine keywords.”