Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Huffington Post Still Growing Like a Weed

Another step in the Huffington Post’s relentless march toward world domination: The company attracted a staggering 40 million unique visitors in the last month.

That’s per Huffpo’s own numbers, served up by Google Analytics (GOOG). And as usual, outside auditors provide a different number. ComScore’s (SCOR) January numbers put the site at 26.4 million unique visitors (see breakdown at bottom of this post).

But no matter how you count it, there’s now a really, really big audience for a site the smart set derided as a vanity project for Arianna Huffington when it launched in 2005.

You may also recall predictions that Huffpo would wither after the 2008 elections, but that hasn’t happened either. So what’s driving the growth?

Verticals, says Huffington–the mini-Huffpos the site has been pumping out on a regular basis. The site’s technology and sports sections, for instance, didn’t exist six months ago. Now they account for 10 percent of Huffpo’s traffic, she says. (Did you know ultimate fighter Chuck Liddell has a nude workout tape?)

Other big hits: Comedy (up 58 percent in the last six months), style (37 percent), entertainment (25 percent).

Huffington was less boastful about the site’s attempts to roll out local sections. That started with Chicago in August 2008, and now includes Denver, Los Angeles and New York.

But she’s not sure where that will go next: “This year [we] have prioritized launching other sections, which has been a great decision,” she says. It’s possible that Huffpo will launch more local sites, or it may partner with other sites instead.

Huffington’s competitors and/or detractors would also want to point to the site’s team of technology wizards, which allow it to extract the maximum value out of a relatively small (100 full-time employees) staff. Huffpo has mastered the art of turning other people’s work into its own stories and eyeballs.

But eyeballs are eyeballs. Next up: Turning them  into dollars. That’s up to sales boss Greg Coleman and his brigade of Yahoo (YHOO) veterans.

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First the NSA came for, well, jeez pretty much everybody’s data at this point, and I said nothing because wait how does this joke work

— Parker Higgins via Twitter