Huffington Was Right to Take the Money

More

John Gapper's column on the AOL/HuffPo incident argues that Huffington and her partners have made out like bandits. HuffPo occupies a media middle ground that is financially doomed, he says. There are plenty of readers in the middle--HuffPo proves that beyond a doubt--but there isn't much money.

HuffPo has no subscription revenues and there is a vast gulf between the advertising yields from readers amassed through swimsuit photos and search optimisation, and those who pay for their information. The barriers to entry in aggregation are very low and the web is flooded with cheap inventory...

Free news aggregators are being pushed downmarket in a race for page views while specialist providers seek their refuge upmarket. The middle ground, where the New York Times and the Washington Post lived comfortably in the print era, is a digital chasm because the cost of becoming a "premium content company" is so high.

Ms Huffington's creation has been trying to straddle this gap cheaply by combining essays on fiscal policy with more sensational fare. Even for her, however, that is a stretch too far. She is intelligent enough to know it. Which is why she and her investors took AOL's cash.

Sounds right. Even if Gapper is wrong, 10 times 2010 revenues, almost entirely in cash, was pretty good going. Warmest congratulations to Mrs Huffington on that account--also for gathering hundreds, or is it thousands, of unpaid bloggers, bundling them together (in a liberal-leaning publication) and selling them for $315m.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." Samuel Johnson said that. "Where there's blockheads, there's brass." I said that.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In