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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Bercovici’

AOL/HuffPost Launches Huffington Post Small Business

The AOL Huffington Post Media Group has expanded yet again this morning, this time launching Huffington Post Small Business. As you can tell by the name, the site hopes to offer readers analysis of the many issues facing small business owners. Rod Kurtz is the site’s Executive Editor.

Peter Goodman, Executive Business Editor of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, said that the new site is filling a void.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and the key source of job growth,” explained Goodman. “Our site aims to crystallize a crucial conversation about what they need to prosper. We will spotlight what is working and amplify concerns about what is impeding the growth so sorely needed.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow when HuffPost launches HuffPost Wings, which will detail every aspect of the show “Wings.” Then next Tuesday, HuffPost is expected to launch HuffPost Kid Rock, a site dedicated to explaining how the Detroit native got people to purchase his music.

There’s more HuffPost sites coming, but that’s all we have confirmed for now.

UPDATE: Apparently this isn’t exactly something new. Jeff Bercovici of Forbes just tweeted to us that there was already a HuffPost small business site, and then Adam Clark Estes of The Atlantic Wire said that he helped launch a small business subsection for HuffPost last year. You’d think HuffPost would mention these details, but alas.

Arianna Huffington Fights Claims That She Is Spending AOL Into the Ground

Over a week ago, Jeff Bercovici at Forbes wrote a massive takedown of Arianna Huffington, focusing on the fact that, with Tim Armstrong‘s blessing, she was extravagantly hiring reporters and big names to the AOL-Huffington Post team, at a rate that might pose serious financial problems for the media company down the line. The questions Bercovici raised about expenditure at AOL-Huffington Post were similar to ones that analysts and shareholders are asking her at an investor day that AOL is holding right now. Bercovici posts her responses:

In response to an investor’s question about how “your interests are aligned with ours,” Huffington sought to defuse the notion that she’s on a shopping spree using AOL’s credit card. “I have a budget, and I have a long runway still in my budget,” she said. “I’m living within my means.”

“When we changed the freelancer model and let go of 90 percent of our freelancers, that budget became available to hire full-timers,” she said. “That’s the budget we’ve been using to hire. There has not been any increase in editorial budget. I inherited the budget that was there.”

As Bercovici notes, Huffington has hired some 75 new journalists since she arrived at AOL. That hiring was offset by the “by the dismantling of AOL’s network of more than 1,000 freelancers.” So Huffington’s claim that she is sticking to the budget is certainly reasonable. The only question is whether 75 reporters plus unpaid bloggers is worth more than 1,000 freelancers to a news organization. Tough to tell at this point, but it’s a compelling experiment for new media.

Top Six Reasons Why Arianna Huffington Will Be AOL’s Undoing

Jeff Bercovici at Forbes wrote a significant takedown of Arianna Huffington and AOL following its merger with Huffington Post. While the piece was generally complimentary toward AOL’s Tim Armstrong, the theme was that his decision to take on Huffington could be AOL’s undoing. Here are the top six reasons from the article why things for AOL seem doomed with Huffington at the helm.

1. Huffington forced the AOL buyout: “Other partners wanted an IPO rather than building up the company to be acquired by another media company… In effect, she subverted the wishes of the board. The deal was in no small part her doing, and she did not intend to pass it up.”

2. Huffington might not be that important: Tim Armstrong “may have overestimated Huffington’s importance to the operation.”

3. Huffington is expensive: “Huffington has been on an extravagant hiring binge for months, sweeping up journalists from the New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, and elsewhere with some extraordinary pay packages, at least by the standards of journalism.”

4. Huffington fired a lot of good people: “To make room for HuffPo transplants, AOL laid off most of its writers and editors as part of a 900-person workforce reduction after the merger was finalized in early March… Many new HuffPo hires simply replaced equally pedigreed reporters and editors AOL brought in two years ago in its last big original-content push.”

5. Huffington has taken on more than she can chew: Counting Patch’s 800-plus editors, she now has around 1,300 full-time journalists working for her. “Arianna’s a world-class politician, a world-class media maven and a genius at p.r., but she’s not an experienced manager,” says Greg Coleman, HuffPo’s former chief revenue officer.

6. Things at AOL aren’t going that well either: Patch, AOL’s network of 800-plus local news websites that Armstrong helped to found and then had AOL acquire in 2009, is blowing through $40 million a quarter without generating meaningful revenue.

Celebrities: Twitter Power vs. Actual Power

Yesterday Forbes announced its World’s Most Powerful Celebrities list, with the number one spot going to Lady Gaga. Now Jeff Bercovici at Forbes compares celebrities’ social media scores to their power rankings, to see who the over- and under-achievers are.

The Twitter overachievers include Lil’ Wayne, Eminem, Eva Longoria, and Steve Carrell.

[T]he overachievers are all rappers, athletes or comedians/comedic actors. No surprise there. Those are all groups who have embraced Twitter, especially, as an environment where they can interact with fans without exposing too much of themselves.

The under-achievers is more scattered, and includes behind-the-scenes guys like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, and the Hollywood celebrities on the list tend to be A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, and Sandra Bullock. Writes Bercovici: “[Y]ou can sort of understand why women whose privacy is so thoroughly violated by the tabloids every week would pass up the opportunity to give them more fodder.”

AOL Sunk $40 Million Into Patch in First Quarter: Expects Big 2011 Loss

Wow. AOL’s first quarter results are out and it looks like the company is spending some serious cash to get Patch up and running. We’re talking $40 million in the first few months of the year alone. As ForbesJeff Bercovici writes, “No wonder AOL is so eager to get folks writing for free for Patch.”

Bercovici was in on the earnings call and reports the company will likely lose $100 million on Patch in 2011. Company executives refused to answer Bercovici’s question about how much revenue Patch brought in against the company’s $40 million first-quarter investment. We here at Fishbowl LA have the answer though: not enough.

Patch’s free blogger roundup drive is scheduled to end today. No word yet how many suckers…er citizen journalists they recruited.

AOL Patch To Recruit 8,000 Unpaid Bloggers

Under the leadership of Arianna Huffington, it looks like the whole AOL Patch-paying-writers-thing may be about to go up in smoke. Former AOL writer and current Forbes blogger Jeff Bercovici got wind of Patch‘s new plan to add 8,000 bloggers in the next week. A memo sent out last Friday from Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham tells Patch editors to recruit 4-5 new bloggers each by the May 4 deadline. And since Patch editors have seen their freelance budgets slashed, this presumably means these bloggers will be writing for free–HuffPo-style.

“The introduction of blogging on our sites is far more than just the release of a new feature,” Farnham said, in the memo obtained by Bercovici. “It is a full-on course correction heading Patch in the direction we want to go.

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The Real Value of Huffington Post’s Blogs

As the world knows, angry unpaid bloggers are suing Arianna Huffington for $105 million after the sale to AOL for $315 million. But are they asking for too big of a cut?

According to Jeff Bercovici at Forbes, while the bloggers may be vastly overestimating what their content brings in with respect to ad sales, when it comes to Google traffic, they may not be far off in terms of their value.

Bercovici argues that it’s the work by bloggers that keeps the website in Google’s good graces (i.e., all the original reporting that bloggers do keep Google from dismissing Huffington Post as just another content farm and dropping its search results.)

Huffpo’s aggregated links and story summaries, its commenter pages, its slideshows and so on vastly outnumber the original pieces of journalism produced by its editorial staff. But Huffpo also has a vast army of bloggers… who for years have been churning out what is undeniably original content.

[A]s long as it keeps the site in Google’s good graces, it plays an important role in ensuring Huffpo’s SEO-driven strategy doesn’t backfire.

If unpaid bloggers are turning against her and no longer giving her free original content, it makes sense that Huffington is on a reporter hiring binge, or else she risks losing tons of traffic from Google. But our guess is that those new reporters will see far more of the $315 million than the unpaid bloggers ever will.

The New York Times on Why It Still Pays Writers Who Would Write for Free

In light of the current lawsuit by unpaid bloggers against AOL-Huffington Post, HuffPo defenders have made the argument that people knowingly, willingly wrote for the digital news outlet for free, to get broad exposure for their writing, which was worth more than money.

Well, many people would be more than happy to have an op-ed featured in The New York Times even sans payment. We would! But the Times op-ed page pays writers — with some exceptions. “Public figures, politicians and the like, get nothing,” a Times spokeswoman said, as Jeff Bercovici at Forbes reports.

So why does the Times pay, and Huffington Post does not?

It’s a matter of principle, said Andy Rosenthal, the Times’ editorial page editor. “The basic concept is that we think writers should be paid for their work.”

Agreed! But it’s a bit more complicated than that, as the Times only publishes a few op-ed pieces a day. Even if Huffington Post adopted the principle that it’s a good use of money to pay writers, paying every single HuffPo blogger would add up costs for the outlet very quickly. But it’s certainly something to aspire to.

Bloggers Against Blogger Lawsuit Against HuffPo

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, a class-action lawsuit was filed yesterday by Jonathan Tasini on behalf of unpaid Huffington Post bloggers, contending Arianna and her website are guilty of “unjust enrichment and deceptive business practices.”

The blogosphere hasn’t exactly come out in support of the lawsuit. Dylan Stableford of TheWrap.com says it makes no sense. Jeff Bercovici of Forbes blog Mixed Media calls the suit “a legal long shot.” And Simon Owens of Bloggasm points out that suing HuffPo sets a dangerous legal precedent:

If these writers were to succeed in their class-action lawsuit, then it would open the doors to further lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, Daily Kos, and virtually every other technology platform for which people contribute content. Should Google start handing out checks to everyone who writes on its Blogspot accounts?

How Well Is The Daily Actually Doing?

So, people love to hate on The Daily. That whole oldest dog in South Dakota thing. The fact that reporters keep leaving it for else where. But mostly people hate on it because they think no one is reading it, and everyone likes to engage in a little bit of schadenfreude.

But just how well, or poorly, is The Daily actually doing? When it began charging on March 21, it did so amid rumors that it had only 5,000 subscribers. While publisher Greg Clayman told Ad Age that downloads numbered in the “hundreds of thousands,” he wouldn’t say how many have paid for the app, only saying that the 5,000 figure “isn’t accurate.”

Jeff Bercovici at Forbes doesn’t know how many subscriptions The Daily has sold (that number remains a mystery) but he has amassed the data on how well The Daily did during trial: the app was downloaded 500,000 times, which means that around 2.5 percent of iPad users have at least tried out The Daily. He was also told The Daily has 75,000 “regular users,” meaning 15 percent of those who downloaded it liked it enough to keep reading it at least as long as it was free. The Daily didn’t officially comment on these figures, unsurprisingly.

Let’s put this in context: Jeff Jarvis estimated that The Daily would need 750,000 subscribers at its current price of 99 cents a week to start breaking even. So, guess they have their work cut out for them.

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