Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Arianna Huffington is better looking than me and has a cool accent. On the other hand, nobody has to ask me to repeat myself because they didn’t understand what I said the first time around.
On the plus side, I still use my AOL email address of SHGLaw, seized back in the days when Compuserve was still king, even though most of you techie-kids make fun of me for it. Where’s the appreciation for my loyalty?
And now, AOL has announced that it will acquire the Huffington Post for $315 million.
AOL Inc. disclosed early Monday morning plans to acquire online news website Huffington Post for $315 million, as part of the Internet company’s attempt to turn its business around with a strategy of becoming a top producer of news, entertainment and other digital content.
Huffington Post, a news and analysis website founded in 2005, reached 25 million unique visitors in December, according to comScore. AOL says that a combination of the two sites will reach a total of 117 million unique U.S. visitors.
My heart is broken. Sure, HuffPo reaches more readers than I do. But I’ve read their stuff. Some of it is great, but a lot is total crap written by hack writers who don’t know squat about the subject of their posts. They will pretty much let any jerk with a keyboard post there, quality be damned.
If they want digital content, I’ve got digital content. Lots of it. A ton. And if I do say so myself, some of it beats the crap out of what HuffPo puts out. But for the fact that I have to earn a living practicing law, I could spend my free time playing internet savant just like Huffington.
Arianna Huffington tells how it happened:
I got an email from Tim Armstrong (AOL Chairman and CEO), saying he had something he wanted to discuss with me, and asking when we could meet. We arranged to have lunch at my home in LA later that week. The day before the lunch, Tim emailed and asked if it would be okay if he brought Artie Minson, AOL’s CFO, with him. I told him of course and asked if there was anything they didn’t eat. “I’ll eat anything but mushrooms,” he said.
The next day, he and Artie arrived, and, before the first course was served — with an energy and enthusiasm I’d soon come to know is his default operating position — Tim said he wanted to buy The Huffington Post and put all of AOL’s content under a newly formed Huffington Post Media Group, with me as its president and editor-in-chief.
This doesn’t even make sense. Why would Arianna ask Armstrong if there was anything “they” didn’t eat when it was Armstrong who invited her for lunch? And what’s wrong with ‘shrooms”? It’s not like there’s a restaurant out there that offers nothing but dishes predicated on mushroom variations. Just order something without mushrooms in it, you wuss.
Or maybe it has to do with this:
I flashed back to November 10, 2010. That was the day that I heard Tim speak at the Quadrangle conference in New York. He was part of a panel on “Digital Darwinism,” along with Michael Eisner and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen.
Mushrooms and flashbacks have a special meaning to people of a certain age, and Arianna and I both know what she’s talking about here. Wink, wink, AH. But did any of you wonder where that notion of “digital Darwinism” came from? Note the date, kids. Almost exactly a year earlier. And did Eisner send me a bottle of wine? Nope. Nothing. Another wuss.
But $315 million dollars, with $300M cash? Smart deal, after what happened with AOL and Time Warner. Get your cash up front, and forget about taking taking those Wang Lab warrants off their hands. They’ll never be in the money.
For this paltry sum, AOL gets content, content and more content. Is it worth it? You bet. AOL needs to do something to bring back the eyeballs that fled when the cool kids realized that it was only geezers like me who still had their name in my email address. That’s no recipe for future success.
What is, however, is solid, informative, accurate, meaningful content, and I’ve got plenty of it too. So here’s the deal, you don’t need to name any department after me, or actually put on a management committee. I’m not all that big on committees anyway, and if I show up for meetings, it’s usually for the donuts anyway. But I can give you solid stuff, better than most of what passes for fodder over at HuffPo, and a great deal to boot.
For a fraction of what you’re paying Arianna, say like 10% (maybe a bit more), you can class up the joint with the best of Simple Justice. And I can go with the beard or clean shaven, whichever best fits your image. No tattoos, but we can always lie and say I’ve got a tweetie bird or a pokemon hidden where the sun don’t shine. The kids will never know.
Email me, Armstrong. Let’s do lunch.