It was about this time last year that Arianna Huffington, the high-profile president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, confirmed she would remain on the job until 2019.
HuffPost was going through some turbulence at the time — the online publication Huffington co-founded in 2005 had just been sold to Verizon as part of a $4.4 billion deal to acquire parent co AOL.
Amid widespread speculation over her future with the platform, Huffington put an end to rumors by issuing an optimistic memo to staff that made clear she’d be staying on for another four years, at a reported salary of $4 million per year.
“HuffPost is now the #1 global multi-platform news organization with over 200 million (unique visitors) – but in some ways, we’re just getting started,” she wrote in June of 2015.
More recently, though, Huffington changed her tune. Though saying she remains “very confident about HuffPost’s future,” the executive announced Aug. 11 she is leaving the company to head a new venture, Thrive Global, focused on promoting corporate and consumer well-being and productivity.
I thought HuffPost would be my last act. But I’ve decided to step down as HuffPost’s editor-in-chief to run my new venture, Thrive Global.
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) August 11, 2016
Thrive provides training courses, seminars, e-courses, coaching and science-based support from experts in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, productivity, sports and sleep, according to a statement linked to Huffington’s Facebook page. The company, based in New York’s Soho neighborhood (and, notably, in the same building where The Huffington Post first launched) is set to launch formally in November, but has already begun piloting programs and workshops with the global firm Accenture.
Huffington said the company has closed a Series A funding round led by Lerer Hippeau ventures, but did not provide further details on how much money was raised. Both Kenny Lerer and Eric Hippeau helped to launch The Huffington Post in the early days, serving as co-founder and CEO, respectively. Fred Harman, meanwhile, HuffPost’s largest investor, will join Thrive’s board.
Other investors include Blue Pool Capital, Greycroft Partners, Advancit Capital, and the Female Founders Fund.
Huffington said her departure from HuffPost was not initially her intention.
“When I decided to create Thrive Global, I thought it would be possible to build a startup and continue as editor-in-chief,” she said in the Facebook 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,” she said.
The move comes with the full support of AOL and Verizon, she added.
Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, called Huffington “a visionary,” noting the company “is grateful for what she has done in creating such an iconic brand.”
There’s no immediate word on who will replace Huffington at the HuffPost helm.