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Verizon looking to unload HuffPost: Report

Matthew McNulty

The pullback by telecom giant Verizon in the digital media arena appears to be hitting a faster pace.

The Financial Times reported late Friday that "Verizon has raised a HuffPost sale with potential acquirers, according to two people familiar with the discussions."

The digital news sector has been racked with job cuts and mergers for most of 2019 in the wake of a tight digital advertising market for outlets not named Facebook and Google. The retreat by Verizon was likely telegraphed in March when Tim Armstrong, the CEO of Oath, the since vanquished and ridiculed umbrella name Verizon gave for its digital properties, left the company on the heels of announcing Oath’s $4.5 billion after-tax write-down.

Now known as the Verizon Media Group, in January Verizon announced it would lay off seven percent of its workforce for AOL, which was purchased by Verizon for $4.4 billion in 2015, and Yahoo!, which was bought for $4.5 billion in 2017. HuffPost became part of AOL as the result of a merger in 2011. It was founded as a liberal news site in 2011 by a group of investors, political personalities and Arianna Huffington. The brand has expanded to some dozen countries as a result of licensing agreements, but some of the challenges the U.S. version has met have been found in the global marketplace as well. In March the German edition was shuttered.

Before becoming part of Verizon, HuffPost tried to extend its brand and advertising potential with the launch of a live video streaming news service with a full schedule of programs. That outlet was largely discontinued in 2016, with some HuffPost live content shifting to Facebook,

What the market for HuffPost may be will be watched by old and new media players alike. The space has seen a fair amount of activity in the last month. Vice Media acquired female-centric Refinery29 in a move to diversify its largely male audience; Group Nine bought PopSugar and Vox acquired New York Media, with its flagship namesake magazine and its popular digital spinoffs like Culture Vulture.

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