The Huffington Post, which has achieved great popularity but is still looking for the profit to match, is getting its second CEO in as many years, paidContent has learned. Betsy Morgan, who joined the high-profile media startup in late 2007, is being replaced by Eric Hippeau (pictured, right), a managing partner at investor SoftBank Capital and a member of the HuffPo board. Morgan will be leaving the company, according to a source familiar with the situation; Hippeau, who will become a special partner and advisor to SoftBank, is expected to start later this week. The company will announce the changes later this afternoon.
Hippeau is no newcomer to media; he was chairman and CEO of Ziff-Davis in the '90s, involved in growing ZDNet and founding cable channel ZDTV. He is credited by SoftBank with being instrumental in its first investment in Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) in 1995. In addition to the HuffPo and Yahoo boards, he is a director of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Buddy Media, BuzzFeed, Goodmail Systems, PureVideo, ThumbPlay and Associated Content. He is expected to remain on the public boards and on the boards of several of the portfolio companies but will be working full time for HuffPo. He has been intimately involved with the company since SoftBank led the first round.
Morgan went to HuffPo from CBS (NYSE: CBS), where she was SVP and GM of CBSNews.com; she was the first CEO by title, succeeding Ken Lerer, the cofounder who headed the business side. A source familiar with the situation credited Morgan with doing a "terrific job" getting the company to this point but said the company, which raised another $25 million from Oak Investments late last year for expansion, needed someone with broader media experience and an advertising and technology background to take the next steps. More to come.
By Staci D. Kramer