Jo Bowman talks to Jimmy Maymann Huffington Post CEO

When the Huffington Post launched back in 2005, the digital world was a very different place. There was no YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. There was plenty of online news, but company founder Arianna Huffington created a platform for blogging – not at that time a big phenomenon – on which bloggersauthors and readers could discuss current affairs. Back then, the platform’s success was about meeting a previously unmet need.

Now, people don’t need the Huffington Post if they want to have a say, so the product has evolved. With over 7,000 journalists, many of whom are established names, the Hufffington Post is a major news provider not just of words on screens but also now in video, and has set about rolling out worldwide the model that was created for its first – and still its biggest – market, the US.

“From a very early stage, blogging and the community was an integral part of it, and everything we’ve developed since has been to facilitate dialogue, engagement and being outspoken, because at the end of the day that’s what Huffington Post is all about,” CEO Jimmy Maymann says. “We want to be the place where conversations start – and keep them going.”

Determining how the business should evolve depends on a balance between the business intuition of Huffington, Maymann and other senior staff, the data that’s generated by the company’s digital interactions with its users and its advertisers, and more traditional consumer research.

“I’m a surfer, and you get out on the sea when there’s no waves, or you play a little bit on the small waves, so you’re ready and able to ride the bigger waves when they arrive,” Maymann says. “Arianna has that ability; I have that ability and have been able to build businesses because I’ve made a bet on something that wasn’t big at the time.” At the moment, the Huffington Post is betting big on the appeal of live streaming video. The company has hired 100 people in the past year to develop it, is up to 12 hours a day streamed content five days a week and is getting more than 55 million video users a month for the service.

If you’re an ESOMAR member you can read the full interview in MyESOMAR in the digital copy of Research World. If you are not a member of ESOMAR you can join and receive a free copy of Research World 6 times a year or alternatively you can sign up for a subscription of the magazine in our publications store.

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