AOL has spent $315 million to acquire the Huffington Post, an online newspaper whose sudden rise to prominence showed many traditional print outlets how the web could help them to regain relevance.
Named after its founder Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post, or HuffPo as it is known, has been through its fair share of controversy for regularly printing advice from “experts” who lack expertise, but despite this it has continued to grow and recently became profitable.
AOL, on the other hand, is a company resurgent – from its beginnings as a tech company, which reached out to consumers by handing out free CDs which would allow them access to the Internet, AOL grew to be a giant portal, which seemed to be America’s window to the Internet. However, AOL was also one of the companies that all but disappeared following the dot-com bubble burst.
Despite that, AOL remained a significant presence online, even as it was overshadowed by newer entrants. However, with the acquisition of the Huffington Post, along with several others in recent times, the company seems determined to return to the top spot. AOL has been making acquisitions that focus on content, and is determined to move away from its roots as a portal.
HuffPo has a huge and fairly rabid fanbase, which can only help AOL, just like the earlier acquisition of TechCrunch. Social networks have taken content to a new relevance, and sharing of links over Twitter and Facebook mean that discovery is about more than just search. While SEO remains important, companies must create a greater volume of quality content to stay relevant.
Huffington will continue to work on HuffPo, which is also probably a smart move for AOL – her image has been strongly associated with the blog’s brand, and experts are expecting to see continued growth to the tune of 200 per cent over the next year for the blog, so this move might be the one to bring AOL back into the limelight.