On the whole the first wave of reactions have been positive. AOL, as an internet company trying to make a comeback, is to buy one of the most popular news sites in the US, is, on the face of it, a good news story for both the technology and media worlds.
And the fact that, for the moment, Arianna Huffington, the colourful co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, is staying with her creation and taking over the rest of AOL’s content site, bodes well for the ailing AOL.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said: “Arianna [Huffington] is one of the pre-eminent authors and editors of our time and Tim [Armstrong, chief executive of AOL] has a remarkable track record of business success. Bringing them together creates tremendous potential for AOL.”
Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone added: “Editorial vision and leadership are essential in order to transmute our shared cacophony of voices into a valuable dialogue. Arianna’s expertise, empathy, and entrepreneurial enthusiasm forms a kind of alchemy, turning mere words and phrases into powerful expressions of humanity.”
Paul Carr, a technology journalist for TechCrunch, a technology news website recently acquired by AOL which will now fall under Huffington’s leadership, also voiced his praise for the deal: “Now, no-one here has been more skeptical than me of AOL’s content strategy…And yet and yet, for once I find myself applauding Armstrong – and AOL as a whole – for pulling off a double whammy: a brilliant strategic acquisition at a logical price.”
However, Steve Case, AOL’s co-founder, was less than complimentary upon hearing the news of the deal.
AOL has a bad reputation for making mergers and acquisitions work post its massively high profile failed merger with Time Warner – which Jeff Bewkes, the current chief executive of Time Warner recently told The Telegraph was the “biggest mistake in corporate history”.
Case, who helped negotiate the Time Warner merger, tweeted earlier this morning: “AOL to Buy Huffington Post; Tim Armstrong says "1 + 1 will equal 11" Really? That wasn't my experience."