Pundits: AOL-HuffPo Deal Flashy, Risky — But Could Work

Steve Case: “Tim Armstrong says ‘1 + 1 will equal 11 … Really? That wasn’t my experience”

The reactions from media pundits and others to AOL’s $315 acquisition of Arianna Huffington’s Post were, as you might expect, all over the map for both companies – from “AOL has catapulted itself back into relevancy” to “Huffington Post and AOL: You've Got a Mess.”

Also read: Game-Changer: AOL Has Bought the Huffington Post

By and large, though, the reviews from the gallery were generally positive.

Below, a small selection of them:

>> Kara Swisher, BoomTown: The flashy acquisition will become the linchpin of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s aggressive, if risky, strategy to focus the long-troubled company as a content and advertising powerhouse. For AOL, the deal gives it a popular branded site that is very good at generating lots of page views and impressions very efficiently — which is the company’s whole thrust these days. That means lots more ad inventory to sell and an injection of content talent, giving AOL the scale it desperately needs. The move also obviously gives AOL a much-needed editorial identity and cohesion, which it doesn’t really have.

>> Ben Parr, Mashable: With its blockbuster acquisition of The Huffington Post AOL has catapulted itself back into relevancy. It has sent a clear signal to the rest of the world that it is a media company and it is in this game to win.

>> Jeff Jarvis, Buzz Machine: AOL needs brands with engagement. Huffington Post is that. Armstrong needs someone who understands that the critical sphere of discovery for content will more and more be people: peers links, not algorithms; Arianna gets that. The company was bought at a high multiple to its revenue but I think the price is not insane. Armstrong didn’t buy pageviews (how 2005); he bought a content and distribution strategy.

>> Peter Kafka, All Things Digital: There are lots of Web M&As that don’t make much sense. But after you get past the “OMG!!!!!” novelty of AOL’s $315 million Huffington Post buy, this one has a straightforward logic to it: Old, big, slow company buys new, small fast company, hopes some of the zippy mojo rubs off.

>> Steve Case: AOL to Buy Huffington Post; Tim Armstrong says "1 + 1 will equal 11.” … Really? That wasn't my experience.

>> Nick Denton, Gawker: I’m disappointed in the Huffington Post. I thought Arianna Huffington and Kenny Lerer were reinventing news, rather than simply flipping to a flailing conglomerate. AOL has gathered so many of our rivals — Huffington Post, Engadget, Techcrunch — in one place. The question: Is this a fearsome Internet conglomerate or simply a roach motel for once lively websites?

>> Dan Lyons, The Daily Beast: The bigger problem is AOL itself. AOL touts itself as a media company, but as Ken Auletta reported in the New Yorker recently, most of what AOL publishes is junk, and 80 percent of its profits come from a rather seedy little business — charging subscription fees from longtime users who don’t realize that they no longer need to pay for AOL service, and could be getting it free.

>> Rafat Ali: Great exit HuffPo & congrats to everyone & investors. Hippeau really put the lipstick on this & made it happen.

>> Jeremy Peters, the New York Times: By handing so much control over to Ms. Huffington and making her a public face of the company, AOL, which has been seen as apolitical, risks losing its nonpartisan image. Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business.

>> Jeff Bercovici, Forbes: AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, a former college high school football player, needed a Hail Mary to pull off a turnaround of the ailing internet conglomerate he took over nearly two years ago. On Super Bowl Sunday, he did the equivalent of chucking the ball 70 yards downfield.

>> Alexia Tsotsis, TechCrunch: You know who won the Super Bowl? Arianna Huffington. This afternoon our parent company Aol bought Huffington Post for $315 million according to a press release. Gah. The Huffington Post, with its 26 million monthly unique visitors is huge, one of the most prominent media properties on the Internet because of its aggressive SEO stance. And the company has gone through the acquisition motions before, most notably Yahoo. Apparently this time it stuck.

>> Ken Auletta, the New Yorker: AOL’s purchase of the Huffington Post is the equivalent of a fourth-quarter Hail Mary pass. The game clock was ticking down on C.E.O. Tim Armstrong’s pledge to demonstrate by the second half of this year that AOL could mount a comeback from the near dead.

>> Dan Gillmor: If AOL is going after a link-driven community, the blend could work in the long run. The Huffington Post has been evolving from its origins, as the left-wing op-ed page of the Internet, into a blend of aggregation, curation, pandering — all of which have been done with some genuinely intriguing if not innovative technology initiatives — and some home-grown content. The first three of those are likely to be, in the end, much more important for the business than the original content.

>> Howard Fineman, the Huffington Post: My best teacher at Columbia was a man with a sly grin, a razor wit and a gift for Delphic utterances. He told us that journalism had one mission and one method: "to go there." I thought of that epigram — simple, but profound — when I learned what The Huffington Post and AOL were about to do. Now, with more depth and breadth than ever, we will be able to "go there," connecting people to information, ideas, events — and to each other.

>> Howard Kurtz, The Daily Beast: It is one more chunk of evidence that online news and entertainment are an increasingly valuable force in a media world once dominated by old-guard newspapers, magazines, and networks.