So we know this is not Nigerian news – and we are about Nigerian and West African media insights, but this is major.
This is like the Queen of England dying. She has to make the cover of Thisday.
Arianna Huffington is the inspiration for countless bloggers and online publishers across the world – taking HuffPo from a blog in 2005 to possibly the biggest possible vision in the space not named Vice. She led HuffPo to become the first new media publisher to win the Pulitzer, its first big acquisition (by AOL, for $315m), major election coverage and possibly live TV. She popularised the term ‘internet newspaper’ that inspired our positioning here at YNaija as ‘The Internet Newspaper for young Nigerians’.
So this is huge. For everybody who cares about online media globally.
She is now stepping down, she announced today, as editor in chief of the Post.
It was long in coming. She hasn’t been deeply involved in the site for a while, focusing instead on her wellness projects and vertical, anchored by her bestselling books ‘Thrive’ and ‘The Sleep Revolution’, leading to grumblings across the company – which also owns TechCrunch.
Then last week, AOL was acquired by Verizon (for $4.4bn) – and leaks from the C-suite made it clear they found Huffington both a relic and a spare wheel in a new media space where new players like Buzzfeed have acquired scale without massive spend, emphasizing quality over quantity.
“I fully expected to be able to continue leading HuffPost while also building Thrive Global,” Ms. Huffington wrote in a note to employees of the post today, noting she will be starting a health-and-wellness start-up called Thrive Global. “But it became clear that this was an illusion as Thrive went from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff and offices.”
This is despite the fact that she signed a four-year contact in June of last year to stay on as chairwoman, president and editor in chief of The Huffington Post.
Which obvious means this isn’t as amicable as anybody is pretending that it is. And until the tell-all books, we won’t know.
“Today, The Huffington Post is a firmly established and celebrated news source, and AOL and Verizon are committed to continuing its growth and the groundbreaking work Arianna pioneered,” said AOL chief executive, Tim Armstrong.
Translation: Her time is past, and we don’t need her here anymore.
Anti-climactic end. But all hail Ms Huffington. She is a legend, a pioneer, and a global icon for a new dispensation.
Thanks for the inspiration!