It made perfect sense that Tim Armstong’s AOL would purchase HuffPo for $315MM. HuffPo is so expensive to run, it had to have a buyer, and AOL is such a relentless chewer-up of talent and shredder of acquired companies that it had to have powerful new products to put ads on. In other words, a match made in Heaven.
But I think Arianna Huffington is shrewd enough to know that the deal is better for AOL–and hopefully, for her investors and staff–than it is for HuffPo per se. While moving onto the AOL backend will save thousands in hosting costs, and a unified ad sales team will put AOL almost back to the glory days of being a must-buy service in terms of additional ad revenue,, that doesn’t mean HuffPo is going to be a better service because of this deal. It’s more likely that AOL corporate will suck up Huffington’s attention and focus after the sale in a way that takes away from her business and that, a year from now, HuffPo will be diminished while other competitors–some of them, like Salon, also up for sale, are getting far more attenton and press.
Of course, on the other hand, perhaps Ariana Huffington is the editor Tim Armstrong has always dreamed of, the one who an make his revenue visions based on strong products and hit stories come true.