News and Commentary

Report: Verizon Trying To Unload HuffPo. No Takers Yet.
The Huffington Post is seen on a computer screen in Washington on March 25, 2014.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, the New York Post reported that Verizon, the parent company of Huffington Post, wants to dump the leftist news site.

Verizon purchased HuffPo in 2015 as part of the deal in its $4.4 billion purchase of AOL in 2015, but now, the Post reported, Verizon has contacted multiple digital-media companies to take the news site off its hands. Some of those possible targets reportedly have included Vox Media, Group Nine Media, Penske Media Corp., Bustle Digital Media and J2 Global.

The Post stated that Vox and Group Nine both declined to purchase HuffPo; the Post noted that Group Nine’s CEO is Ben Lerer, the son of Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer.

One digital media executive said of HuffPo, “This thing loses so much money. It’s such a mess, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. I don’t think there’s any way you can make money.”

Two sources told the Post that HuffPo’s expenses range from $60 million and $70 million, but the site only brings in between $45 million to $50 million a year, and with the losses from the coronavirus pandemic, the site’s earnings could drop to $40 million this year.

HuffPo has roughly between 150- and 200 employees; one source told the Post that HuffPo suffers from a “toxic culture” with “distrust in the organization” and “in-fighting” over how “Left” HuffPo should be. The source added, “Who wants to buy ads on the thing? Nobody. If Verizon can’t make money on it, who can? And, you have to fire half the people? There goes the traffic. The brand means nothing anymore and it’s ultra-partisan.”

The New York Times reported in June 2015, “The Huffington Post broke even last year on $146 million in revenue, according to someone familiar with the site’s finances.” In January 2019, HuffPo announced it was laying off roughly 20 employees, which it said comprised 9.5% of its staff. HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen said:

It’s a tough day for HuffPost, and we’re losing some talented and beloved colleagues. We are deeply committed to quality journalism that reflects what matters most to our diverse audiences across the globe. HuffPost is aligning its talents and investments to areas that have high audience engagement, differentiation and are poised for growth at a time when our mission means more than ever.

In October 2019, HuffPo laid off 11 more employees; the site reported:

Among the cuts were five managers, video producers, camera operators, on-screen talent and several branded shows the department was working on. A company spokesperson released a statement, saying HuffPost was “realigning its video strategy.” The statement read: “We remain deeply committed to quality journalism and what matters most to our diverse audiences across the globe. HuffPost is realigning its video strategy to invest and allocate resources to support its core areas that have high audience engagement, differentiation and are poised for growth as we continue on our mission to provide a voice to all people.”

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