Is the Huffington Post Worth $315 Million? AOL Says Yes, And Buys Arianna.

arianna_huffington_x200At 12:01am EST this morning, AOL announced that they are purchasing the Huffington Post for $315 million, and that Arianna Huffington will now lead a new division that runs all of their content blogs, including the recently acquired TechCrunch. If history will see the TechCrunch acquisition as the first sign of blogging going mainstream, this AOL acquisition will represent the moment blogging became a business.

Within the blogging community, the move will undoubtedly cause a lot of surprise, as Arianna has taken a deep interest in her brand, and has ruled her site very carefully. In fact, her brand has become strong enough that most of her guest writers write for free, just for the free publicity and the chance to raise awareness. It seems that this model was more financially attractive than anyone thought. Although no numbers have been released about the financials, we do know that HuffPo (as it’s affectionately called by readers) has 26,000,000 unique visitors a month. That’s about a quarter of AOL’s entire draw.

Arianna will move on to become the head of AOL’s new “Huffington Post Media Group” which will include TechCrunch. This does put AOL in a very powerful position, but reports from TechCrunch say that so far, AOL has made a serious effort to stay completely away, and let the company do what it does. This may be true, but it remains to be seen if the left-leaning Huffington Post will retain its cachet after its been picked up by a huge corporation with their own, more aggressive, financial interests.