Monday, August 21, 2006

There's Gold in them thar posts

Well, Huffington's posts, at least. The most dismaying thing about venture capitalists putting up some cash for HuffPo's growth and expansion is not left for us to guess. Its right in the article: the VC's pony up the dough because they already see several ways to make a buck and get out:

HuffingtonPost also has "a wide variety of avenues" in terms of an exit for venture investors, Hippeau said. While it could conceivably go public one day, it seems more likely to become an acquisition candidate--either for a Web portal, a traditional media company or a content-driven online suitor.

And, the lead investor assures us, this will have no impact on the politically independent voices Arianna has assembled.

Hippeau said he was unconcerned about HuffingtonPost's left-wing political slant upsetting limited partners and did not regard the investment as akin to a political contribution. "We have no involvement in the editorial side, and we are a minority shareholder," he noted.

This should be interesting to watch unfold. We know selected bits of the web-as-media smell like cash to MSM investors: Murdoch felt moved to buy up MySpace. The political uses of MySpace are speculative for now but far from nonexistant. Was Huffington looking for the money or did the money come looking for a place to grow [as Hippeau seems to claim]? How would Huffington have responded to Murdoch money, in the unlikely scenario that any would be offered? Though its a vague question, what intrigues me most is whether serious money comes to Huffington merely "unconcerned" about its distinctly un-Republican voice or if it is more a matter of some investors finally hedging their typical bets on the mostly paleolithic conservatism of big-money-media investing. What winds are really shifting here?

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