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Arianna Huffington Is Leaving Huffington Post

Media exec will focus on her new health and well-being startup, Thrive Global

Arianna Huffington is departing her namesake online pub — the Huffington Post, acquired by AOL five years ago for $315 million — to run a new startup.

Huffington announced her exit from the Huffington Post on Thursday. She said she is leaving to dedicate her time to her new company, Thrive Global, which is focused on health and well-being.

“When I decided to create Thrive Global, I thought it would be possible to build a startup and continue as editor­-in-­chief of the Huffington Post,” she said in a statement. “Today, it’s clear that was an illusion. As Thrive Global moved from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff and offices, it became clear to me that I simply couldn’t do justice to both companies.”

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said in a statement about Huffington’s move, “Arianna is a visionary who built The Huffington Post into a truly transformative news platform… We are looking forward to partnering with Arianna on Thrive Global and are grateful for what she has done in creating such an iconic brand.”

AOL, which itself was acquired by Verizon Communications last year for $4.4 billion, says Huffington Post attracts some 178 million visitors daily from around the world although according to reports the site has failed to generate operating profits in the last few years. Last month Verizon announced the acquisition of Yahoo, with plans to combine its content operations with AOL’s brands, including HuffPost, raising uncertainty about Huffington’s role going forward.

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After her rise to fame as a political commentator, Huffington founded Huffington Post in 2005 with Ken Lerer, now a principal with investment firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Jonah Peretti, now CEO of BuzzFeed.

Huffington is bidding farewell to Huffington Post just two months after extending her contract with AOL to remain president and EIC of the organization through 2019.

Early on, the site was the target of critics complaining about HuffPost’s practice of “aggregating” other news organizations’ reporting and stories and building out a network of unpaid contributors. But Huffington Post also has acquired a large staff of journalists doing original reporting and in 2012 won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on wounded veterans and their families.

Investors in Huffington’s Thrive Global include Lerer Hippeau Ventures, entrepreneur-philanthropist Sean Parker, inventor of Napster and an early investor in Facebook, Blue Pool Capital, Greycroft Partners, Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital and Female Founders Fund. The startup closed a Series A round last week of $7 million in funding, Business Insider reported.

New York-based Thrive Global plans to launch after the U.S. elections in November with content, training, courses, e-commerce and other resources focused on helping people reduce stress and burnout and improve health and productivity. Huffington — who has published two books, “Thrive” and “The Sleep Revolution,” on managing work-life balance and redefining success based on personal well-being — said the company has already begun piloting trainings and workshops with Accenture.

In April, Huffington joined the board of Uber — the ride-hailing giant’s first female board member — which raised questions about HuffPost’s editorial independence in covering the company. (Huffington said she was removing herself from any decisions pertaining to stories about Uber.) She also sits on the boards of Spain’s El País, the Center for Public Integrity and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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