One year after its acquisition by AOL, The Huffington Post has become a source of growth for the beleaguered company, which is still trying to shed its dial-up Internet image. Now, in what Arianna Huffington characterises as a move to keep the website’s growth accelerating, she has taken several of its business functions out of AOL and under her control.
The revamping, she said, is intended to help The Huffington Post “maintain the innovative spirit of a start-up”. Technology, business development, marketing and communications units that were woven into AOL last year will begin to report to her. The advertising sales unit will remain inside AOL “at the moment”, she said.
The shifts, said Huffington, the site’s co-founder, will let The Huffington Post add sections and products more quickly. The changes appear to give Huffington more authority within the closely watched media company, where her title is president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She will continue to report to Tim Armstrong, the AOL chief executive, whose contract was extended last week to run through early 2016.
In the year after the merger, editors reported to Huffington, but employees in other departments, like technology and marketing, reported to various departments in AOL. The latest reorganisation was approved by Armstrong and AOL’s executive committee, she said.
When asked if there was a plan to make the site fully independent again, apart from AOL, Huffington said, “There’s no such plan.”
“AOL has been great for The Huffington Post,” she said. “We could not have possibly had the growth we’ve had without the help of AOL.”
On Thursday, Huffington is expected to announce that she has chosen Lauren Kapp, a top executive at NBC News, to run global strategy, marketing and communications. The global strategy piece is especially significant, Huffington said, “because we have plans to grow in many more countries”.
In the last year, the website started four international editions — in Canada, including a French edition in Quebec, Britain and France — and announced plans for two more in Spain and Italy.