When I first heard of the AOL/Huffington Post merger, one of my first thoughts was that Arianna was taking on a huge responsibility and wondered if her experience running Huffpo would really qualify her for the role she grabbed. As regular readers know, I am not a huge fan of Arianna and think she is just an opportunist who took advantage of the anger and hatred towards Bush to build an empire. I know I was sucked into her world back in the Bush days, but it didn’t take me too long to realize that her empire was about making money and the anger just shifted from President Bush to President Obama. Arianna and her brain trust have gradually shifted who their target audience is away from the liberal base she built her site on. She seems to be aiming at some of that Tea Party money from what I can tell. Her book is a blatant appeal to that populist crowd, lots of platitudes and describing of the problem and no solutions or realistic consideration of how to change any of it. Like how to get a bill passed in the current US legislature.
So I take some pleasure in seeing that things aren’t going so well with the AOL/Huffington Post merger. The Business Insider has an article that breaks down the troubles throughout the organization, but I’m most interested in Arianna’s role. From the Business Insider…
Fear and paranoia. Large parts of the org recognize the strategy is bad for the business but everyone is afraid to speak out. Arianna is rumored to have created an enemies list across the company and has directed her loyalists to collect dossiers on other managers across the company and report back on conversations. Her list includes several key business, sales, technology, and marketing executives she wants to eliminate and replace with her people. Anyone who disagrees, even if backed by data and clear rationale’s – goes on the enemies list. Facts don’t matter.
It sounds like she really knows how to manage a large organization and motivate people. More from the Business Insider…
Imperial over-reach. AOL will eliminate Popeater and Parentdish this month and roll them into the Huffington Post. Arianna’s people are plotting to eliminate all non huffingtonpost.com websites and redirect all traffic to the huffingtonpost.com. No one thinks consolidating to huffingtonpost.com is a good idea from a consumer or an advertiser perspective, but no one will stop Arianna.
And the last thing I’ll throw out there about this is that apparently the Huffington Post folks that came along with Arianna, Roy Sekoff and Nico Pitney are having some troubles transitioning to managing a much larger organization.
It is the Peter Principle on a grand scale. None of AOL’s senior editors (Huffington, Roy Sekoff, and Nico Pitney) have ever managed more than a few people. Now they have hundreds and lack the experience to manage a team this big. Behind the scenes, long time Huffposters say that Jai Singh’s departure has eliminated the key adult in the room. Now they need to grow HuffPost and save AOL – not possible.
I used to have the Huffington Post as my home page on my browser – years ago, before it went down hill. The only time I visit there now is if I click on a blind link or there is a story that I just have to read based on a recommendation. I clicked one too many times on a misleading headline that took me to a reposted story from some other source with an ad that pops up or plays before I can see the content. I felt so used by her. And I really don’t give a shit what Kim, Khloe or Kourtney Kardashian did last night.