When Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion last year, I predicted that AOL's content brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget, would be sold off, simply because Verizon wouldn't have any real use for them. Turns out I was wrong about that, as all of those properties still remain under the Verizon/AOL umbrella, but that doesn't mean there won't be big changes as they adjust to the new landscape.
Arianna Huffington, the co-founder, Editor-in-Chief and namesake of the Huffington Post, is leaving the company she started 11 years ago, it was revealed on Thursday.
Going forward, Huffington will be putting all of her energy into Thrive Global, a startup focused on well-being and healthy living.
I thought HuffPost would be my last act. But I’ve decided to step down as HuffPost’s editor-in-chief to run my new venture, Thrive Global.— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) August 11, 2016
This is a change of heart for Huffington, who had previously stated that she would remain in her role at the Huffington Post while also running Thrive Global.
"The company, Thrive Global, will be run by a separate management team and my primary focus will remain on The Huffington Post, with no change to my current role," she said in a memo in June, when she first announced the launch of Thrive.
That, however, proved to be more difficult than she anticipated.
"When I wrote to you in June, I fully expected to be able to continue leading HuffPost while also building Thrive Global. But it became clear that this was an illusion as Thrive went from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff and offices. One of the Thrive principles is knowing when it's time for a new chapter to begin, and for me that time has arrived," Huffington wrote in a note on Facebook.
The news of Huffington's departure comes on the same day that Thrive announced the closing of its first funding round, an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, along with Blue Pool Capital, Greycroft Partners, Advancit Capital, Female Founders Fund, Zoë Baird, Nicolas Berggruen, Joanna Coles, Ray Dalio, Mohamed ElErian, Thrive Market Cofounders Nick Green and Gunnar Lovelace, Fred Harman, Isabella Huffington, Andre Iguodala, and Sean Parker.
Thrive Global is described as "a corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform." The name comes from a book Huffington wrote in 2015, called Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
Thrive Global will officially launch in November, once the Presidential election is over, and it will provide its users with training, seminars, e-courses, coaching, and on-going support, while also partnering with "thought leaders," like Adam Grant and Wharton People Analytics to measure the impact of its services on employee retention, well-being, and productivity.
While Huffington has nothing but praise for AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, thanking him for his "talent, commitment and values you all bring to everything you do here make HuffPost what it is," there have been reports of tension between the two over the years, and there are some who are already speculating that part of the reason for her leaving was growing unhappiness with having a diminished role once AOL was purchased by Verizon.
Even if that's true, there's no doubt that Huffington has a deep interest in the principles behind Thrive Global. In addition to her 2015 book, she also authored another one earlier this year called The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, and she even gave a Ted Talk about the subject in 2011. Well-being is clearly a subject she is passionate about.
There is no indication as to who will be taking over Huffington's current role at the company.
(Image source: makers.com)