Arianna Huffington Railroaded HuffPo Board for ‘Bag of Gold,’ Forbes Claims

The Huffington Post-AOL merger is looking rocky, and the new media pioneer is only in it for herself

Looks like Bill Keller has someone in his corner for his next bout with Arianna Huffington.

In a piece by Forbes writer Jeff Bercovici, the new media maven comes off as an untrustworthy narcissist, whose primary concern is the advancement of her personal brand.

Moreover, the heavily-touted AOL and Huffington Post marriage is off to a rocky start. AOL workers and past HuffPo staffers are all too eager to pile on La Huffington.

The aggregator-in-chief’s big offense is that she “subverted” the wishes of her board, who favored an IPO for the rapidly growing site, and instead pushed forward on the portal’s $315 million sale to AOL last February.

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“She wanted three things: a big bag of gold, a big fat contract, which she deserved, and … unilateral decision making over her world,” says Greg Coleman, who was HuffPo’s chief revenue officer. “And that is where you’re going to have some problems. Arianna hates to be managed.”

Huffington, who has been busy poaching top staffers from the New York Times (revenge on Keller for his earlier swipes?), will have to play nice if she’s going to fit into the more corporate AOL.

Armstrong is clearly hoping that Huffington’s skills as a relentless self-promoter will help the fading AOL reverse its downward slide. Yet, the same thirst for the limelight that made Huffington’s eponymous news site one of the Internet’s top destinations in less than a decade, may make her incapable of being a good legionnaire.

By betting on Huffington, Bercovici writes, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has “…tied himself to somebody who has demonstrated that she puts her own interests ahead of those of her partners.”

It’s doubtful Huffington’s new partners will care about her egotism if she can help revitalize the stalled Internet portal.

Sure, loyalty is nice, but AOL’s shareholders would probably prefer profits.