Two Years After Dramatic HuffPost Buy, AOL’s Armstrong and Arianna Talk About the Sometimes Rocky Road (Video)
Even though it seems like a dog’s age, it has been only two years since AOL bought the Huffington Post at the Super Bowl XLV in Dallas (yes, papers were actually signed there).
Back then — after AOL ponied up $315 million, mostly in cash, to buy one of the Web’s most prominent news and opinion sites, along with one of the most famous women on the Web as its leader — the pair called it: “One plus one equals 11.”
Looking back today, it’s more like one plus one equals fireworks — given all the dramatic narrative that has ensued since the deal was struck. While it started off with a series of splashy joint appearances — hey, world, it’s the Tim and Arianna show! — some bumps in the road later resulted in a fair amount of tension between Armstrong and Huffington, which the two now say has passed.
That has included a big, ugly (but still riveting) fight among and between Armstrong, Huffington and Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, another AOL property. Without reliving the messy timeline and ethical traffic accident, Arrington left after a lot of Sturm und Drang, verbally trashing Huffington on his way out the door, even though he later returned to the fold as a columnist.
More importantly, while her role was conceived much more broadly and horizontally at the time of the acquisition, as a kind of overall content ruler at AOL, that clearly did not work out as envisioned and — perhaps as it should have been from the start — it has since been made very vertical.
That has essentially meant Huffington gets to rule over her fast-expanding empire of global sites under her name, with Armstrong footing the investment and tending to fixing the other parts of the company.
Thus, for now at least, all’s well that ends well. AOL’s stock has soared this year, after a series of shrewd financial and organizational moves by Armstrong, and Huffington is ever busy opening yet another international Web outpost.
I checked in with both on how they are doing, in separate video interviews that I did last week in New York, where AOL is located. And to remember how this Web marriage started, I’ve also included the the one I did two years ago in Dallas at the dawn of the relationship.