The Huffington Post bankrupt

>> Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Huffington Post bankrupt into accessible alertness based on its namesake and Arianna Huffington's A-list Rolodex, but it never would accept becoming a $315 actor payday if those gilded elements had not been affiliated to adult technology and accurate cast management.

That's area Kenneth Lerer, its bottom accepted partner, came into play.

The accord amid Ms. Huffington and Mr. Lerer, a aloft AOL executive, about did not happen. He said his aboriginal actuation was to say no if his acquaintance Tom Freston, again the arch of Viacom, appropriate the two accommodated for banquet aback in 2003. Mr. Lerer saw in Ms. Huffington aggregate he was not: an outsize accessible figure.

"I didn't anticipate I was traveling to like her," Mr. Lerer recalled in an account on Monday. "She's a big personality. I didn't apperceive her. I wouldn't say I'm a shy guy, but I stick to myself."

But accommodated they did, at an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His acumen of Ms. Huffington, whom he knew alone from her canicule as a Republican auger in the 1990s, bound changed. "I said 'She's terrific.' You apperceive how you just hit it off with humans instantly?"

The absurd brace grew to apperceive anniversary added bigger over the next year and hatched an idea: a advanced adaptation of the Drudge Report, area humans antagonistic with the Bush administering could gather.

"He knew how primary this technology was traveling to be," Ms. Huffington said, "and was a constant apostle for authoritative abiding that we were accepting our plan and our website out there in foreground of people."

Few, including Mr. Lerer, anytime anticipation it could be a accepted business. Blogging, afterwards all, was done by loners in their basement.

"A lot of humans I apperceive broke me on the arch and said: 'This is cute. What a nice beautiful idea,' " Mr. Lerer recalled. "So for the aboriginal year or two we didn't get a lot of buzz calls saying, 'Wow!' We got a lot of buzz calls saying, 'What the hell are you doing?' " He added, "I didn't anticipate it was traveling to be profitable."

Ms. Huffington, who wrote a best agent blue-blooded "On Becoming Fearless," had no such doubts.

"I absitively aboriginal on that the Internet, that new technology, was traveling to accommodate a new way of abutting people," she said, "and although I had no abstraction how big it would get, but I knew we were accomplishing something that would plan because the old media means were not affair people's needs."

On Monday, they afraid the skeptics, announcement that they had accomplished a accord to advertise The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million.

The Huffington Post angry out not to be just a individual thing. Like so abounding acknowledged Web enterprises it was a aggregate of appearance that calm became a analgesic app. There was bargain content, some of it from arresting contributors, accumulated with an unapologetically advanced bent; there was a almost adult arrangement of accumulation agreeable from added account sources; there was a way to body a association of animadversion about it.

And the website was consistently at the beginning of seek enhancement -- headlining agreeable in alluring means and generally bond to blue or bordering agreeable in hot following of traffic. (Much of the aboriginal absorption in breaking through the ataxia and accepting noticed came from Jonah Peretti, who larboard aboriginal on to plan at BuzzFeed. Mr. Peretti brought a adult compassionate of search, of how to acquisition absolutely what humans were searching for at any accustomed moment.)

The Huffington Post anon blossomed into a association with a agenda of mostly contributed bloggers that grew from 500 to 9,000 over the advance of 5 years, all creating a website that bogus abundant of its own agreeable and abundantly adopted abundant of the rest. As the website matured, Ms. Huffington pushed assets into added aboriginal agreeable and bigger names, but The Huffington Post has aloft all been a celebration of packaging and sensibility.

The aforementioned affair that fabricated Ms. Huffington a little alarming in getting -- relentlessness, amaranthine networking and announcement -- were appreciably adaptive to Web endeavors. Her able alliance to Mr. Lerer was a case of East Coast meets West. Mr. Lerer, the able East Coast controlling alive in the background, ends up in accepted could cause with a animal of Los Angeles, whose career as advanced and bourgeois activist, political apron and applicant larboard her with a absolutely weaponized account of connections. Ms. Huffington's admission to celebrities and alertness to columnist them into account as bloggers -- Walter Cronkite was a part of the aboriginal bloggers, as was Ellen DeGeneres -- served the website well.

Nora Ephron became one of the covering bloggers whom Ms. Huffington abiding to address for the apprentice Web website as a way to draw in readers. Ms. Ephron said she agreed to yield the job because of Ms. Huffington's adamant pursuit. "The affair she does, which is if you say annihilation to Arianna, it does not bulk what, and it doesn't bulk if you acquisition yourself aural three anxiety of her and any words appear out of your mouth, she will advance that you about-face it into a blog. That's what she does," Ms. Ephron said. Ms. Ephron aboriginal met Ms. Huffington as Ms. Ephron was casting her 1998 film, "You've Got Mail" -- which ironically at the time was AOL's catchphrase.

Andrew Breitbart, now the buyer of a alternation of bourgeois sites, including Big Government and, formed at the Drudge Report and agreed to advice Ms. Huffington, who had a claimed blog, body something added substantial. He knew Ms. Huffington from her canicule as a conservative; he had formed as a researcher for her.

"I told her at the time that humans would be dying to apperceive what her accumulation of A-list accompany were thinking," he said. "And she had a blowing and a point of appearance that humans were just fatigued to. It is a action out there to get noticed -- there is absolutely no such affair as affairs out -- and no one was bigger able than Arianna to advance what she is doing. I abstruse abounding of my best moves from watching her."

Mr. Breitbart said that it fell to Mr. Lerer to body a business about it, one that produced a accumulation in 2010, and even added surprising, the auction to AOL. In the history of avant-garde media, there are few examples of a media cast congenital out in 5 years with beneath than $50 actor in costs. "In Kenny," Mr. Breitbart said, "you had this P.R. authority who knew how to actualize and advertise a brand. What absolutely started out as a account lath for the larboard of centermost became something abundant larger, something that transcended that acumen and angled out into added content."

In a buzz interview, Ms. Huffington said that afterwards the aboriginal year, if The Huffington Post began to annex out into areas above backroom and into media and entertainment, she knew that the website could go ample scale. "I knew it was traveling to work," she said.

She said that Mr. Lerer, who is no best circuitous in circadian operations, apperception instead on Lerer Media Ventures, which he owns with his son, provided not alone business accuracy and cast adeptness but was a constant apostle for architecture a technology aggregation that was aswell a media company.

Mr. Freston said Ms. Huffington and Mr. Lerer's adverse personalities -- she gregarious, effusive and innately social; he reserved, clandestine and bookish -- complemented anniversary other.

"They're a absolute match. In a way you couldn't get a bigger foreground man than Arianna. Besides getting into politics, she's evidently driven, she's actual arresting and has become even added visible. And Kenny, he was a very, actual smart, accomplished adviser.

"He's a easygoing guy and a absolute sage," Mr. Freston said. "Kenny in his easygoing way and Arianna in her out-front way confused this affair from akin to akin to akin seamlessly."

Given the bulk of drive the website currently has -- over 30 actor humans a ages visit, according to Quantcast -- some people, including competitors, were afraid that the aggregation chose to sell.

"Huffington Post was fueled by advanced acerbity adjoin George Bush, Fox Account and the bourgeois media-political complex," said Nick Denton, who owns Gawker Media. "They could accept become the advanced Fox News. They were bigger placed to yield that alcove than MSNBC. But the alone way to affected advertiser objections is to become very, actual big. And they absent their nerve."


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