Arianna Huffington to leave her position as president and editor of The Huffington Post
Huffington, who launched her site in 2005, will now concentrate on her health-and-wellness start-up Thrive Global, which recently received Series A funding
The founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, will be stepping down as president and editor-in-chief of the Verizon-owned website. Huffington had recently signed a new contract, but she now wants to concentrate on a new start-up called Thrive Global.
Huffington, now 66, launched her namesake website in 2005 but later sold it to AOL for $315 million. AOL itself was then sold last year to Verizon which this also acquired Yahoo.
The Huffington Post has been described as a liberal website, but Huffington herself has been a Republican for much of her public life, starting her writing career with articles for The National Review. Born in Greece, she married Michael Huffington in 1986, who in 1992 was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives for California’s 22nd District (Santa Barbara). He soon ran for the Senate and lost. One year after the couple divorced, Michael Huffington disclosed that he was bisexual.
Arianna Huffington recently secured Series A funding for her new start-up which likely forced her to make her decision to leave.
“I really thought I could do both, but as we started building it up, I realized that it really needed my full attention,” Huffington told The Wall Street Journal. “It is important to know when one door closes and another opens and I felt that moment had arrived.”
It is ironic that Huffington would have made her announcement to the Murdoch owned financial newspaper, something Apple’s Tim Cook also likes to do. The paper is very conservative and early comments are negative towards Huffington, as they often are of Cook.
Although The Huffington bears her name, the site is dominated by both staff and contributed content. In fact, the site has often been accused of being built on the backs of content from writers who contribute to the site for free in order to get exposure or see their names in “print”. Many of the celebrities who have written for the site have done so with the urging of Arianna Huffington.
Here is the press release for the new start-up:
NEW YORK, NY – August 11 2016 — Arianna Huffington is pleased to announce that her new company, Thrive Global, has closed its Series A funding round. Thrive Global’s mission is to change the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is a necessary price for success. By reducing stress and exhaustion, we can improve people’s health and increase productivity for both companies and individuals around the world.
Thrive Global is a corporate and consumer wellbeing and productivity platform. It provides trainings, seminars, ecourses, coaching, and ongoing support based on the latest scientific findings from experts in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, productivity, sports, and sleep. Thrive Global’s approach is extremely practical and based on the principle of microsteps so that people can more easily go from knowing what’s best for them to actually doing it.
Stress and burnout are a global pandemic, costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars per year – $300 billion in the U.S. alone. But as the latest science has shown there is no tradeoff between living a wellrounded life and high performance. In fact our performance actually improves when we make our health and wellbeing a priority.
“Since publishing Thrive and then The Sleep Revolution, I’ve dreamt of taking the next big step to help transform the way we work and live,” Arianna Huffington said. “When I decided to create Thrive Global, I thought it would be possible to build a startup and continue as editorinchief of the Huffington Post. Today, it’s clear that was an illusion. As Thrive Global moved from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff, and offices, it became clear to me that I simply couldn’t do justice to both companies. Change is desperately needed if another generation is to avoid the burnout that all too often comes with success today. That’s why I’m filled with excitement at the prospect of devoting the rest of my life to accelerating the culture shift away from merely surviving and succeeding to thriving. Running both companies would have involved working around the clock, which would be a betrayal of the very principles of Thrive I’ve been writing and speaking about. To truly thrive means knowing when the time has come to close one chapter and start the next, and for me that time has arrived. I step down as editorinchief filled with gratitude for our amazing HuffPost team and for what we’ve built together, and for Tim Armstrong who had the vision to buy HuffPost five years ago and to support from day one our global expansion. The journey of the last eleven years has exceeded my wildest expectations. I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished and very confident about HuffPost’s future with the strongest leadership team we’ve ever had and the full support of AOL and Verizon. And of course, HuffPost will always be part of me, and I’ll always be here to help in every way possible as it continues to reach new heights.”
“Arianna is a visionary who built The Huffington Post into a truly transformative news platform,” Tim Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of AOL said. “Today, The Huffington Post is a firmly established and celebrated news source and AOL and Verizon are committed to continuing its growth and the groundbreaking work Arianna pioneered. We are confident that our strong editorial leadership team will maintain the exacting standards and high quality journalism of our Pulitzer Prize winning newsroom. The Huffington Post draws more than 178 million people worldwide on a daily basis and continues to distinguish itself with groundbreaking reporting and analysis. We remain committed to our mission of making The Huffington Post the most influential and innovative news company in the world.”
Armstrong continued, “We are looking forward to partnering with Arianna on Thrive Global and are grateful for what she has done in creating such an iconic brand.”
“Arianna’s unique insights into how we consume news has transformed the media landscape. Through Thrive Global, she will once again transform an industry and have a profound impact on how we live and work,” said entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker, an investor in Thrive Global.
The company has begun piloting trainings and workshops with Accenture, a leading professional services company with a workforce of 375,000.
“Humans should be at the heart of the digital age. It’s why we believe that creating an environment where our people can be successful, both professionally and personally, is so important to our company,” said Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer at Accenture. “By working with an important partner like Thrive Global, we can ensure that Accenture continues to provide our people with the tools and development opportunities to help them achieve their goals.”
This Series A funding round was led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures. “Kenny Lerer was my HuffPost cofounder, Eric Hippeau HuffPost’s CEO at the time of the acquisition by AOL, and Fred Harman, who is joining our board, our largest HuffPost investor. It’s really exciting to have the HuffPost band back together, and I love the fact that Thrive Global will be headquartered in the same offices where HuffPost was born in SoHo,” Huffington said.
Other investors include Blue Pool Capital, Greycroft Partners, Advancit Capital, Female Founders Fund, technology and health philanthropist Zoë Baird, Chairman of Berggruen Institute and Berggruen Holdings Nicolas Berggruen, Joanna Coles, Bridgewater founder and CEO Ray Dalio, Chief economic adviser to Allianz (Pimco’s corporate parent) Mohamed ElErian, Thrive Market Cofounders Nick Green and Gunnar Lovelace, Oak Investment Managing Partner Fred Harman, artist Isabella Huffington, NBA All Star Andre Iguodala, and entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker.
Thrive Global will launch after the election in November, partnering with thought leaders including Adam Grant and Wharton People Analytics to measure the impact of its services on employee retention, wellbeing, and productivity, as well as organizational culture, and Dr. Ali Rezai, neurosurgeon and Director of Neuromodulation at The Ohio State University, to provide recommendations for improving and enhancing brain health and optimizing brain performance. “We want to help employees go from burnt out to fired up,” said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist and The Wharton School’s toprated professor.
Thrive Global will offer an integrated solution through key partnerships with Altus (physical training), Bob Roth and the David Lynch Foundation (meditation coaching), Sense by Hello (sleep education) and Thrive Market (food and nutrition).
USC Keck School of Medicine professor Dr. David Agus, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, Fred Harman, Kenny Lerer and Thrive Global President Abby Levy will be joining the board, which is chaired by Arianna Huffington, who will also be Thrive Global’s CEO.
“Arianna has always been at the forefront of the Zeitgeist, understanding and creating new culture. She will do it again with Thrive, addressing a deep need of our modern societies. I’m excited to be an investor and partner on this journey,” said Nicolas Berggruen.
“I am both delighted and honored to back Arianna’s new and important initiative. There is no one more qualified and committed than her to help address an issue that increasingly stands in the way of sustainable wellbeing, high productivity and rewarding relationships,” said Mohamed ElErian.
“In today’s 24/7 connected world, it is a continual challenge to achieve a sense of peace, balance and wellbeing in our personal and professional lives. We are proud to partner with Arianna, whose achievements and life story are testament to the mission of Thrive Global,” said Shari Redstone, CoFounder and Managing Partner of Advancit Capital, LLC.
“The woman who changed the way we consume media is now changing the way we work and live,” said Dana Settle, Founding Partner at Greycroft Partners, one of the lead investors in the round.
“As early investors in Thrive Global, we’re excited to be backing one of our most successful female entrepreneurs in creating a muchneeded platform to help companies find a better way to maintain a stronger worklife integration for their employees,” said Anu Duggal, Founding Partner of Female Founders Fund.
“Arianna has an important vision for how employers and their employees can collaborate to achieve good health. Thrive Global also will become an exciting platform for health and wellness communities across cultural borders. I’m delighted to be partnering with my friend of over three decades,” said Zoë Baird.
“I am excited to be working again with Arianna after having the pleasure of backing her at the Huffington Post and serving on her Board. I couldn’t think of a better use of Arianna’s passion and entrepreneurial talents than the mission of Thrive Global,” said Fred Harman of Oak Investment Partners.
“Many talk about wellness and health, but Arianna has put together a program, based on data, that actually works for the individual and for the corporation. I am proud to join the effort to effect a meaningful difference in people’s lives through Thrive Global,” said Dr. David Agus.
At Thrive Global, giving is a founding principle, a scientificallyproven contributor to our wellbeing and an essential component of a full life. So from its inception, Thrive will be offering free trainings to nonprofit organizations to reduce burnout and improve effectiveness. Interested nonprofit leaders can email firstname.lastname@example.org.