AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Huffington Post chief Arianna Huffington have finalized their integration plans and layoffs are on tap as the acquisition nears the finish line.
The news isn't unexpected. AOL said it would get $20 million in savings out of the Huffington Post acquisition. It's only natural that some headcount would be cut. "There will be job changes," said Armstrong, speaking at the PaidContent 2011 conference. "There's no way around it, but we'll do it thoughtfully."
Armstrong, who said he's sensitive about layoffs and tries to be open and transparent about changes, said he was also aware that AOL has had a "lot of people changes" when the company was part of Time Warner and then independent.
However, the big question is how the sides are put together. Huffington and Armstrong said they had an offsite meeting to finalize the go-forward plan. Huffington said the plan is to put old grizzled journalists with young kids out of college.
"What we're going to do very quickly is to create the largest global content company with the greatest opportunity," said Huffington, who also noted that AOL hired media reporter Michael Calderone away from Yahoo.
On other topics:
- Armstrong said Patch's local platform will be critical to AOL going forward with its hyperlocal coverage. "The simplistic notion of just putting Huffington Post and Patch together doesn't capture the opportunity," he said. If anything, Patch is moving too slow, said Armstrong.
- Huffington swiped at critics who say that Huffington Post sold out based on free labor. Huffington said that critics don't get it. Blogging is free expression and Huffington Post has plenty of contributors. She also noted that Huffington Post has 143 editors and all are paid well.
- Armstrong said deriding content platforms as content farms is short-sighted. He added that technology platforms are as good as the content you put on them. Better data and technology can lead to better customer experiences, said Armstrong. “Just because people are journalists shouldn’t mean they should be separated from technology,” he said.