So much for all those inaccurate media reports that Arianna Huffington’s piece of the HuffPo-AOL deal was around $100 million. In fact, her share was less than 7% of the $315 million sales price. The Smoking Gun today posts a new court document stemming from an ongoing lawsuit. Marked ‘Confidential’ and ‘Attorney’s Eyes Only’ and dated February 2011, the memo prepared for AOL board members shows Arianna received about $21M. And $3.4M of that came in the form of stock options that would vest about 20 months after the deal closed and another $3M in stock options and restricted stock units. The document came to light because of a lawsuit by two consultants accusing Ariana and her business partner Kenneth Lerer of stealing the idea for HuffPo.
Are you itching to become the next George Will, Keith Olbermann, or Michelle Malkin? Well, Arianna Huffington has a proposition for you tied to the launch of HuffPost Live 3,2,1…, an opinion site that goes live on August 13. Her AOL-owned company said today that it is inviting visitors to audition to become regular contributors by sending in videos “sounding off on what they are passionate about, what ticks them off, or what they’d like to see the network cover.” Those submitting the most “engaging” videos [not necessarily the most thoughtful or well argued ones, I guess] will be invited to to become regular guests. “HuffPost Live is all about engagement and making the HuffPost community an integral part of the dynamic, ongoing conversation that will be the heart and soul of the network,” Huffington says. “And we wanted to have a launch as innovative as the project itself, as opposed to a traditional top-down approach.” Does that mean viewers will vote on which pundits they want to see, sort of like American Idol? Uhhh, no. That will still be a traditional top-down decision by the editors. But the winners won’t come from the punditocracy. “People don’t want to be talked at any more; they want to be talked with,” says HuffPost Live President Roy Sekoff. “HuffPost Live” will live-stream 12 hours of original programming, five days a week from studios in New York and Los Angeles, with a …
Anchors on CNBC’s Squawk Box joked about how quickly the AOL chief executive made it to their studios to crow about this morning’s $1.1B patent deal with Microsoft — which sent AOL shares soaring. “This is not a home run. It’s a grand slam,” Armstrong says promising to return “as much of the cash as possible” to shareholders. But he also took a shot at The New York Times for apparently having been spun last week: The paper was fed an exclusive story that said Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington ended up with “more authority” at AOL in a new reorganization. “We probably could do a better job with the accuracy of that report,” Armstrong said adding: “This isn’t Dallas.”
If you’re already overwhelmed by the amount of online video, just wait: AOL will introduce its ad-supported HuffPost Streaming Network on the Web this summer with 12 hours of original news and commentary each weekday — rising to 16 hours by the end of 2013. HuffPo founding editor Roy Sekoff, who’ll over see the venture, tells me that viewers can watch the service live, or on a VOD basis although there won’t necessarily be scheduled shows. His goal is to go with the flow of what’s “buzzy and talked about” in the course of the day. “We’re the video manifestation of the Huffington Post,” he says. He also expects it to be more timely than the content on most of YouTube’s new channels. “They want more evergreeny stuff,” he says. Still, Sekoff says, “we’re not about the scoop. We’re about the conversation afterward.” Sekoff will oversee about 100 people working exclusively on HPSN, but other reporters at AOL will contribute. At the start, eight hours of daily programming will emanate from New York with the rest coming from Los Angeles. No word on how much AOL plans to spend on the operation, or what kinds of ad arrangements it will make. Sekoff hopes to land five or six founding sponsors, “premium brands who want to take a leap of faith” much the way Budweiser did with ESPN. The announcement comes almost exactly a year after AOL announced its agreement …
BREAKING: AOL Buys The Huffington Post For $315M; Deal Signed At Super Bowl XLV; What Happens To AOL’s Apolitical Image?
AOL will pay $300 million of the pricetag in cash, and the rest in stock. Buying the 5-year-old primarily liberal political news aggregator will be AOL’s biggest acquisition since it split from Time Warner in 2009. Below is a press release (see below) just issued from AOL and The Huffington Post, which has been for sale for some time now since it was launched on May 9, 2005. Over the years HuffPo has taken in various investors so founders Arianna Huffington and her partner, former Time Warner exec Ken Lehrer, don’t get to just pocket the windfall. Arianna will stay on according to the announcement as president and editor-in-chief of the newly formed The Huffington Post Media Group which will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content.
According to Arianna’s own behind-the-scenes account of the sale, ”my New Year’s resolution for 2011 was to take HuffPost to the next level — not just incrementally, but exponentially. Now was the time to take leaps… Around the same time, 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. The next day, he and Artie arrived, and, before the first course …
The jury in the federal trial of Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano and 4 co-defendants still hasn’t reached a decision after its first full week of deliberating. In the meantime, I thought you’d want to see this letter about Bert Fields (left, arriving at Roybal building read to testify; photo by Jim Stevenson for DHD) sent by his longtime pal and Greenberg Glusker law partner Bonnie Eskenazi to Arianna Huffington complaining about HuffPo’s trial coverage and commentary by Allison Hope Weiner. Eskenazi used to be Fields’ right-hand woman on most of his big cases. And Eskenazi also worked with Weiner (who’s a lawyer) eons ago at the old Wyman Bautzer firm. I doubt there’ll be a reunion party anytime soon. That said, I’m well aware that many of you will strenuously disagree with this letter, and many of you will vigorously defend it. Remember, I’m just the messenger:
May 9, 2008
Ms. Arianna Huffington
The Huffington Post
Re:Allison Hope Weiner’s May 1, 2008 Article
Dear Ms. Huffington:
I have read Allison Hope Weiner’s May 1, 2008 rant on the Huffington Post (“Pellicano Trial: The Jury Has The Case”) about how the “rich and powerful” people escaped the Pellicano case “without a scratch,” while the poor folks were prosecuted.
With no supporting facts at all, Ms. Weiner suggests in her agitated blog that the rich and
UPDATE: Sources close to Arianna Huffington are claiming just that. Arianna Huffington is currently on book tour for her new political tome Right Is Wrong: How The Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded The Constitution, And Made Us All Less Safe, in which she goes after Tim Russert (and justifiably so). She’s booked all over CNN, ABC, and CBS (but not Fox News Channel because she chose not to go on there). And NBC? Well, one insider says she was booked on Keith Olberman and Morning Joe to talk about her tome — and then unbooked. “These are shows that call her regularly to come on. And then the word came from on high that she had to be cancelled.” Arianna’s accolytes are pointing the finger at Tim Russert, well known to be ridiculously thin-skinned, for blackballing her internally at NBC and not permitting her on any of the NBC network or cable outlets.
It’s certainly possible, considering how much clout the Washington bureau chief wields at the company (not to mention how much profit his Meet The Press yields for the company). NBC did confirm to me that Arianna Huffington won’t be booked on any of the NBC network or cable shows past or present or future for her book. (Interestingly, a Knopf source says the publisher was never given a definitive no. “We were just told to ‘Call back tomorrow.’ There was never any explanation.”) Granted Right Is Wrong is only #209 on …