After weeks of denials and "no comments," political blog The Huffington Post has closed a $25 million third round funding from Oak Investment Partners, the company said in an emailed press release this morning. The company said it planned to use the proceeds to support general growth efforts and for "focused acquisitions." HuffPo also wants to build up its in-house ad sales team, as even the internet is succumbing to the wider economic turmoil. The three-year-old HuffPo had previously raised roughly $12 million from Softbank Capital, Greycroft Partners, co-founder Ken Lerer and Bob Pittman.
On the content side, the $25 million will go towards the jump-starting of a new investigative journalism initiative, expanding its video offerings and a rollout of local versions of the HuffPo aimed at an unspecified number of cities. It already has a Chicago-centric site. The funding comes as HuffPo says farewell to what appears to have been a successful and long campaign season. With interest in politics expected to wane compared to the height of its election coverage, HuffPo hopes to become known for more than its left-leaning politics coverage, by building on its other sections, which include media, living, style and green. While broadening its content should attract more advertisers, this is a tough time on the local ad front, as Borrell Associates and other analysts have pointed out that the growth in that area had and will continue to slow down considerably.
In conjunction with the funding, Oak Investment's Fred Harman is joining HuffPo's board. Harman said in a statement: "Much of the news media business needs to be reassembled online around an ad-supported model and the timetable for this has been accelerated, not slowed, by this economic down cycle."
By David Kaplan