Is Arianna Huffington Evil?
I’m not Arianna Huffington’s biggest fan but some of the charges levied against her since the sale off HuffPo to AOL are unfair.
Balloon Juice’s mistermix dubs her “The Ultimate Freeloader” because: 1.) She’s not giving the people who have written her content over the years any of the $315 million AOL paid for the company and 2.) she didn’t pay an exorbitant and voluntary fee to Movable Type for using their shareware platform.
The first charge is one I’ve seen dozens of times on Twitter and the blogs. And it strikes me as absurd. The people who wrote for HuffPo were never promised any money. Nor is it entirely clear how much of HuffPo’s value is attributable to its writers in general, much less any individual writer. HuffPo became a viable business model by lifting tons of content from other media outlets, summarizing it in a particularly pithy way, and stuffing it with tons of keywords and other SEO tricks.
The second charge is new but a headscratcher. I used Moveable Type for about a year and a half and switched to WordPress, mostly for technical reasons, years ago. Some time after my switch, MT moved to a pay-per-use model, arguably the key reason it became a bit player in the blog software wars, which have now been all but won by WordPress. Anyhoo, the fact that HuffPo was on MT rather than WP can hardly be said to be a key factor in its explosive growth. And, surely, they’re not entitled to a revenue share. It’s not clear what MT’s enterprise license costs but, if they’re giving it away for free and merely hoping that users will give them money, that’s hardly Huffington’s problem.