Kara Swisher

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Here's the Official HuffPost $25 Million Funding Press Release

Here’s the official press release from the popular news and blogging site, The Huffington Post, which announced $25 million in funding from Oak Investment Partners this morning.

(BoomTown’s story on the funding is here, along with an interview with Oak’s Fred Harman)

Sources told BoomTown the investment gives the site–which had 4.5 million unique visitors in September, a quadrupling from a year ago–a valuation of “south of $100 million.”

Here’s the official release:

The Huffington Post Announces $25 Million In Funding From Oak Investment Partners

New York, NY (December 1, 2008)–The Huffington Post, a leading news and opinion site, today announced that it has secured $25 million in funding from Oak Investment Partners, a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, California. The Huffington Post (“HuffPost”) will use the proceeds to invest in the growth of the company and for select and focused acquisitions. The company said it would invest in its technology and infrastructure, increase its in-house advertising capabilities, and continue to expand its content offerings–including a new investigative journalism initiative and a rollout of local versions of The Huffington Post in select cities. The announcement was made by Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer, co-founders of The Huffington Post.

“This commitment from Oak Investment Partners will allow us to accelerate our growth, with more verticals, more video, more citizen journalism initiatives, more cities for our local editions, and a fund for investigative journalism,” said Arianna Huffington. “We are particularly excited to have Fred Harman of Oak join our board; his deep knowledge of the new media landscape will help us to take HuffPost to the next level.”

Said Kenneth Lerer: “We are thrilled to bring on board a partner like Oak to work with Softbank Capital and Greycroft [Partners] as we move forward. Since launching the site three and half years ago, the company has built a strong brand and an audience of millions who rely on the site for its mix of smart news and opinion. The additional capital from Oak will enable us to go full-steam ahead with operations and select acquisitions.”

Fred Harman, general partner at Oak Investment Partners, said, “Much of the news media business needs to be reassembled online around an ad-supported model and the timetable for this has been accelerated, not slowed, by this economic down cycle. We believe that The Huffington Post has built a platform and business model to be among the leaders in aggregating this audience online. Our financing will provide the resources necessary to scale the company, both organically as well as through acquisitions of additional talent and new media companies. We are also very excited to have the opportunity to back Arianna, Betsy, and the company’s strong entrepreneurial team.”

Betsy Morgan, CEO of The Huffington Post, said, “With funding from Oak, The Huffington Post is perfectly positioned to build on its incredible growth. Oak brings to the table a team with enormous experience and insight, and we look forward to working with them to seize the opportunities ahead of us.”

The Series C financing round comes as The Huffington Post continues to experience significant growth following the expansion of the site in 2007, when HuffPost began rolling out a variety of new sections, including entertainment, politics, media, living, style and green. The site also started its first local version, HuffPost Chicago. This year, The Huffington Post received widespread attention for its original reporting on the 2008 presidential race, including the coverage provided by its OffTheBus team of citizen journalists. HuffPost currently has 46 employees.

Harman joins The Huffington Post board of directors, whose members include: Eric Hippeau, Managing Partner of Softbank Capital, Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and Betsy Morgan.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald