The acquisition of The Huffington Post by AOL has generated a wave of reactions – from Wow! . . . to . . . Huh??
The $315 million deal has also raised questions about the future of the blogeteria founded by shape-shifting polidiva Arianna Huffington.
Here’s another question:
What does this payday mean for the HuffPo ownership lawsuit detailed in the current issue of Vanity Fair?
Democratic political consultants Peter Daou and James Boyce, both 45, reached the point of no return last November 15. On that day, they sued Arianna Huffington, the doyenne of Democratic dish, for failing to acknowledge what they claim was their critical role in the creation of the Huffington Post, her online juggernaut. The two men say their lawsuit, or its timing, had nothing to do with The Social Network, David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant movie about the legal battles over the founding of Facebook, which had hit theaters a few weeks earlier. Both point out that their first communications to Huffington about the matter occurred at the end of August. But the question still lingers: Why then?—since the two men had never uttered a word to Huffington about their claim for nearly six years and blogged for her during that time.
Apparently, the trigger was something Huffington said to Wired magazine about the genesis of HuffPo, which pointedly excluded Daou and Boyce despite their presence at “the seminal December 3, 2004, meeting at her Brentwood mansion, where the idea for the Huffington Post was hatched.”
More from Vanity Fair:
Daou and Boyce say that they were the ones who conceived of “a Democratic equivalent of the Drudge Report”—a shorthand description of what the Huffington Post is all about—and called it http://www.fourteensixty.com (for the number of days between presidential elections). According to their 15-page November 14, 2004, memorandum about “1460,” which Boyce gave Huffington before the December 3 meeting, the core objective of the Web site was to “use the potential of the Internet to the fullest extent possible to continue the momentum started during the [2004 presidential] campaign and re-organize the Democratic Party from the outside in, not the inside out.” Daou and Boyce say that they presented their general thoughts about 1460 at the December 3 meeting.
Huffington responded this way in an email to Daou and Boyce:
Your suggestion, after nearly 6 years, that you understood all along that we were in a ‘partnership’ to create and operate the Huffington Post is stunning. And ridiculous. We never entered into any partnership or other agreement with you—either written or oral—concerning ownership of the Huffington Post. During all these years, you never shared in any financial obligation or risk relating to the Huffington Post. You never participated in any kind of management at the Huffington Post. You never shared in or asked for any financial or management information. Hardly a partnership.
Huffington later told Politico, “We have now officially entered into Bizarro World.”
Regardless, as far as the hardsearching staff can gather, Huffington is still in Legalo World.
It’s just a much higher-stakes lawsuit than it was before.