AOL has bought political news site The Huffington Post, for $315m (£222m), as the Internet firm continues its drive to boost its content services.
It is estimated that the newly combined AOL Huffington Post venture will have 270 million users, with 117 million in the US alone, which could give it an edge in the battle for advertising dollars.
The deal comes just over four months after AOL acquired Techcrunch from Michael Arrington, and is in keeping with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s avowed goal of transforming the original dial-up giant into a major content player.
This move also follows last week’s announcement that the premier video distribution network, goviral, is now part of the AOL family.
The Huffington Post was founded in 2005, which now counts nearly 25 million unique monthly visitors.
HuffPo – as it is sometimes affectionately known – was the culmination of a political reorientation to the centre-left for Arianna Huffington, formerly something of a right-wing firebrand. It was intended as a liberal response to the Drudge Report, a conservative news website.
The Post offers a mix of original commentary from its stable of bloggers, reporters and columnists, with links to news articles from other media firms.
Commenting on the deal, Arianna Huffington, site founder, said: “By combining HuffPost with AOL’s network of sites, thriving video initiative, local focus, and international reach, we know we’ll be creating a company that can have an enormous impact, reaching a global audience on every imaginable platform.”
Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL, added: “Arianna is a singularly passionate and dedicated champion of innovative journalistic engagement, and a master of the art of using new media to illuminate, entertain and enhance the national conversation. Arianna is a remarkable person and she will continue to create remarkable outcomes for the combined company.”
As part of the transaction, Arianna Huffington, will be named President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Black Voices, PopEater , AOL Music, AOL Latino, AutoBlog, Patch and StyleList.
Kenneth Lerer, The Huffington Post’s Co-Founder and Chairman, said: “The Huffington Post team has created a potent brand with the proven track record of knowing how to grow traffic, inform and entertain its readers and build a one-of-a-kind online community.
“Add that to the powerful scale and resources of AOL and you have the perfect combination for today and the future. Together these two companies will be a premier online content provider.”
AOL has agreed to purchase The Huffington Post for $315 million, approximately $300 million of which will be paid in cash funded from cash on hand. The Huffington Post is privately owned by its two co-founders, as well as a group of investors.
The proposed transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of government approvals.
The boards of directors of each company and shareholders of The Huffington Post have approved the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the late first- or early second-quarter 2011.