Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The Huffington Post Goes to Harvard Business School–As a Case Study, That Is!

While a lot of people doubted Arianna Huffington when she co-founded her eponymous blog site many years ago, she can add another I-told-you-so to the pile, after today’s induction of the Huffington Post as an official Harvard Business School case study.

Huffington, as well we HuffPo CEO Eric Hippeau have been at the school today, answering questions from the 900 students to whom the case study has been presented.

While it will not be immediately published, as others have been, due to the company wanting to keep some information private, Huffington said the overall theme was how some enterprises create opportunity when other see problems.

“The whole concept is about disruption in the media business,” said Huffington, who knows the topic well, given content blogs like hers are often blamed for disintermediating the media business.

Huffington actually got hooked up with Harvard professor Tom Eisenmann via his wife, well-known tech and media investment banker Jill Greenthal, at the seventh D: All Things Digital conference last June, where Huffington appeared onstage in an interview with me.

Eisenmann, who co-heads a course at HBS called “The Entrepreneurial Manager,” said he had long wanted to profile the innovative start-up.

“They’re ambitious,” he noted, in terms of revenue and editorial goals. “And, for the students, it’s fun to have a case that is more familiar and current.”

Eisenmann’s team started collecting data–about one-third history, one-third on the current business and one-third about competitors–from the HuffPo execs and staff in November.

While there have been many case studies of digital companies, Eisenmann said the point of this study is to allow students to look at key decision-making moments that a fast-growing start-up has to face.

“There is always a series of key decisions,” he said. “Our goal is to ask the students to find out if they were the right ones or not.”

Indeed, and while Huffington and her team keep making them, here’s a the video of her at D7 in an interview with Washington Post (WPO) publisher Katharine Weymouth:

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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