Washington – Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post news site that has become a global phenomenon, announced on Thursday that she was stepping down to launch a non-profit group focused on health and wellness.
Greek-born Huffington, who launched her original American website in 2005 and sold it to internet giant AOL in 2011, said the new venture called Thrive Global aims “to change the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is a necessary price for success”.
She said she would be stepping down as editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, which now operates in 10 languages and has a user base of over 200 million.
She said she decided to leave the online news organisation because “I simply couldn’t do justice to both companies”.
“I’m filled with excitement at the prospect of devoting the rest of my life to accelerating the culture shift away from merely surviving and succeeding to thriving,” she said in a statement.
“Running both companies would have involved working around the clock which would be a betrayal of the very principles of Thrive I’ve been writing and speaking about.”
Thrive has received funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures – led by a HuffPost co-founder Kenneth Lerer – and other groups and individuals including NBA star Andre Iguodala and entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker. It is to launch after the US election in November.
Pioneering online news
The Huffington Post was among the first major news organisations to benefit from consumer interest in online information.
Today, in addition to the US edition, the HuffPost has English language websites for British, Canadian and Australian readers, a number of French-language editions and versions in German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic and Korean. It has said it plans to launch in China as well. It also has an online video network called HuffPost Live.
At first criticised for a lack of original content, the news group has a staff of hundreds, including more than 300 news staff outside the United States, and produces 1 500 pieces of content daily. It was the first pure digital media group to win a Pulitzer Prize, capturing the award in 2012 for a series of reports on wounded US veterans.
Arianna Huffington remained at the helm when the news group was sold to AOL in 2011 for $315 million. Last year’s acquisition of AOL by Verizon placed the group under the aegis of the telecom giant, but with AOL run as an independent unit.
Tim Armstrong, who heads the AOL unit that includes the Huffington Post and other news sites, called Arianna Huffington “a visionary who built the Huffington Post into a truly transformative news platform”.
He added that “AOL and Verizon are committed to continuing its growth” and the “groundbreaking work Arianna pioneered”.
The 66-year-old Huffington was married to Republican congressman Michael Huffington and was known for her conservative views early in her career before veering toward Democratic Party causes.
She authored the 2016 book The Sleep Revolution, which aims to draw attention to health and societal problems stemming from a lack of sleep.
“I step down as editor-in-chief filled with gratitude for our amazing HuffPost team and for what we’ve built together,” she said in the statement.
“The journey of the last 11 years has exceeded my wildest expectations.”