If you work on the web, chances are you’ve internalized the “grow or die” maxim. And if that’s the case for the employees, it’s certainly true of the boss, especially if she happens to be Arianna Huffington.
As co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington is at the forefront of the online content revolution. But amidst charges of short-changing journalists, she continues to challenge critics by broadening HuffPo’s scope (remember when it was just a left-of-centre political opinion blog?) and extending its brand.
For starters, Huffington Post continues to expand its reach by offering regional editions (Canada, France, U.K. and Spain all have their own editions) in addition to local ones (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles). This emphasis on local content means HuffPo’s readership is extremely engaged, leading CEO Eric Hippeau to label the site “one part social network, one part news content site.”
Despite a plugged-in audience and steady growth since its 2005 launch, the site did not turn a profit until 2009. After being acquired by AOL in 2011 for $315 million, the site’s revenue increased to $40 million.
The company has taken traditional approaches to distributing its content across different platforms but it’s also delving into new territory.
Take, for example, Arianna Huffington’s brainchild GPS for the Soul, launched earlier this year. It’s a mobile app that measures the user’s vitals and then offers a selection of soothing, tailored content (think Mozart, calming photos or breathing exercises) to help him or her relax.
Another example is HuffPost Live, a streaming network launched on August 13 that will provide yet another layer of engagement for the website’s active community.
Writing about the network’s launch, Arianna Huffington said the content world has made the “shift from presentation to participation.”
Finally, the brand offers its own Content Management System, the Huffington Post CMS, designed to help content creators (including corporate brands) maximize their reach.
Earlier this summer Huffington spoke at C2-MTL, a conference hosted by advertising agency Sid Lee that explored the intersection of creativity and commerce. She demoed GPS for the Soul and discussed the merits of partnering with brands like Oprah around shared causes.
In a press conference after her talk we asked her about the new HuffingtonPost CMS and what it means for the future of branded content online.