This is not a surprise: AOL insiders are already complaining about how messy the HuffPo integration is.
One self-described, “soon-to-exit AOL freelancer” shares this anecdote:
On one call-in meeting for freelancers, a longtime AOL journalist, who said he had over 20 years of reporting experience, asked if the new company would continue to respect journalism.
It was basically a question about his own job.
The exec on the call immediately pivoted to a defensive talking point, explaining “we don’t pay for opinions” (which should worry plenty of people whom AOL currently pays for opinions) and “I’ve been on TV many times and I didn’t get paid for it, and frankly it was great for me,” as if anyone gave a fuck.”
I get his point, but we’ve all heard it and it didn’t address this guy’s question. This is typical of the lack of understanding and communication that I’ve seen since the merger, even as the incoming execs make a big deal out of their supposed openness.
We’ve heard there’s been as much confusion on the sales side.
One person involved in those meetings tells us, “For a while we only thought there was going to be one master brand. Huffington Post, and that would have all the AOL channels. That recently has morphed. They’re going to have two brands. Huffington Post, then you’re going to have the AOL brand.”
“It’s fair for a company to change their mind, but before you start integrating the sales team, you should know why you’re integrating them and what ultimately they’re going to be selling.”
Again, the idea that this integration is a mess already should be a surprise to no one. Integrations – even successful ones – always feel icky to somebody.
The big challenge for AOL is that one of the people running this integration of thousands, Arianna Huffington, has only ever managed a team of 100 people before. HuffPo insiders say they think its possible, if only because Huffington has surprised plenty of people with other past successes.