AOL has agreed to buy the second most popular news website in the U.S., The Huffington Post, for US$315 million, it said in a statement Monday.
The purchase brings a potent new web property to AOL, in addition to other major acquisitions the company has made in recent months. Last September, AOL bought technology news provider TechCrunch and its family of websites.
The Huffington Post ranked second in the U.S. only behind New York Times branded-sites in a poll of online newspapers by ComScore last November. The site garnered 26 million unique visitors that month, compared to 34.6 million for New York Times sites.
AOL will create a next-generation American media company with global reach with the acquisition of The Huffington Post, it said in the statement.
"Following the close of this transaction, AOL will accelerate its strategy to deliver a scaled and differentiated array of premium news, analysis, and entertainment produced by thousands of writers, editors, reporters, and videographers around the globe," AOL said in a statement.
Arianna Huffington, who co-founded the Huffington Post in 2005, will be named President and Editor-in-Chief of a new division at AOL that will integrate all Huffington Post and AOL content, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, and more.
The new division, called The Huffington Post Media Group, will likely face scrutiny as it is implemented. AOL has retained many of the founders of news websites purchased over the years, such as Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, and left them largely in control of their domains. AOL will have to avoid alienating those news leaders as it builds the new division.
The addition of The Huffington Post will give AOL's group of sites a combined base of 117 million unique visitors a month in the U.S. and 270 million a month worldwide, the company said.
"The Huffington Post will continue on the same path we have been on for the last six years – though now at light speed – by combining with AOL," Huffington said in the AOL statement. "Our readers will still be able to come to the Huffington Post at the same URL, and find all the same content they've grown to love, plus a lot more," she added.