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HuffPost and Fairfax joint venture ends

HuffPost Australia‘s joint venture with Fairfax Media has come to an end, the US based website announced this afternoon.

It is believed Fairfax Media will redeploy staff members – of which there are more than 30 – into the metro business, while others will be left without jobs as the Huffington Post’s local team is expected to be reduced to a handful of contractors.

A spokesperson for HuffPost Australia said in a statement: “Employees were briefed today on the decision of HuffPost and Fairfax to bring the Australian joint venture to an end. HuffPost will operate a standalone Australian edition from December 1 with a smaller local team. If redeployment is not possible, regrettably redundancies will occur.”

 

Mumbrella understands the future of the joint venture was entirely in the hands of HuffPost management, with Fairfax Media continuing to show a vested interest in the brand.

But despite the official comment, this ‘standalone Australian edition’ is understood to mean several contractors – similar to what has occurred with HuffPost’s joint venture with The Times of India.

The withdrawal of HuffPost’s commitment to Australia comes just over two years since the publication launched. At the time, founder Arianna Huffington told Mumbrella the market was “very fertile ground” for the publisher’s commercial model.

Ahead of the company’s launch into the market, Koda Wang, the general manager overseeing HuffPost’s international expansion, said the company would intend to become the market leader in Australia within three to five years, and was on the hunt for a local partner. Fairfax Media was confirmed as the local partner in August.

Since then, the company has been jointly owned by Fairfax Media (49%) and AOL (51%) – which recently acquired Yahoo. 

At the time of launch, the company was led by Chris Janz, now managing director of Fairfax Media’s Metro Publishing division. He was later replaced by RocketFuel managing director, JJ Eastwood.

The company also named Lisa Wilkinson, former Today Show host as editor at large.

In Nielsen’s monthly digital rankings, HuffPost’s audience has remained relatively stagnant – only jumping between February and March due to a change in Nielsen’s ratings system.

Mumbrella also understands the company was struggling to make money from advertising revenue, as the publication was accessed through social media platforms such as Facebook, which are proving harder for publishers to monetise.

And in November last year, HuffPost Australia signalled the joint venture may come to an end, announcing it would form its own commercial team and REA Group’s Sammy Lewis joined the publication as its first commercial director months ago.

The discussions come as the same time as speculation of global redundancies at Oath – which represents Yahoo and AOL.

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