December 6, 2012 5:11 pm

Maymann named Huffington Post chief

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The Huffington Post is appointing a chief executive to push international and technological expansion at the news and commentary site, amid a broader reorganisation of its parent company AOL.

Jimmy Maymann, the former head of international for AOL, will take on responsibility for boosting traffic, revenues and technological innovation at the site both in the US and as it continues launching versions in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The position is new, and Mr Maymann, who came to AOL through its $96.7m acquisition of video distribution network Goviral in January 2011, will report to Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.

“He has the entrepreneurial vibrancy that is so important for the Huffington Post and the ability to scale a business,” Ms Huffington told the Financial Times, calling from a train from New York to Washington, where she was to visit the Huffington Post office to continue her tradition of giving employees sweaters during a holiday party.

Mr Maymann said: “What I want to do with Arianna is partner to take the site to the next level and identify the areas where we need to unlock the next level of growth.”

The news comes as AOL is creating a structure with separate operating units for its media, advertising and ventures groups.

AOL is transitioning from a subscription-based service for connecting to the internet from its roots as an ad-supported media business. Its stock price has more than doubled in the past year, thanks in part to its $1bn deal to sell patents to Microsoft, better than expected profits and increases in advertising revenues.

But some analysts are wary about the health of the company’s domestic display ad business, the splashy ads that include graphics and text and border a website, and are an important factor in the company’s turnround.

AOL’s domestic display ad revenues dipped 3 per cent in the most recent quarter to $122.5m.

The news of a new chief comes the same week that Jolie Hunt, hired as chief marketing and communications officer in July, left the job. Her departure occurred before AOL’s planned launch of a $10m marketing campaign next week to promote the AOL brand. She is the fourth top marketing and communications executive to leave AOL since Tim Armstrong took over as chief executive of AOL in 2009.

AOL announced plans to acquire the Huffington Post for $315m, $300m of which it paid in cash, in February 2011, and the site has rapidly expanded since then. Traffic has increased 44 per cent to 62.7m unique worldwide visitors in October from 44.3m in the same period last year.

Huffington Post now has editions in the UK, Canada, France, Spain and Italy and introduced HuffPost Live, which streams 12 hours of original programming five days a week.

Mr Maymann’s appointment could reignite speculation about plans to split the site from AOL. Ms Huffington said that investors previously had approached her with interest in buying Huffington Post back from AOL, but that neither she nor the company was interested.

“Everybody is happily proceeding on the path that we are on now in building a media business,” she said.

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