The Huffington Post Raises $25 Million from Oak Investment Partners

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We already knew The Huffington Post was looking for capital, but it turns out to be a little more than the $15 million the Times of London projected earlier. Kara Swisher says the political uber-blog network has in fact raised $25 million from Oak Investment Partners and will announce the news later this morning (press release below).

This third round brings the total amount of funding raised to a whopping $37 million. When The HuffPo raised its $5 million Series B round in September last year, we wondered how much it was worth. Kara’s source indicates the valuation is ‘just south of $100 million’. Rafat Ali recently pegged a similar valuation.

The new capital will serve for recruitment as well as the expansion of The Huffington Post’s offerings into other areas like ‘business, green/clean-tech and investigative news’. They also leave the door open for ‘select and focused acquisitions’. Oak Investment Partners has a relevant investment track record, having funded companies like Federated Media (TechCrunch’s advertising partner), Demand Media, MobiTV, Oberon Media and others in the past.

In an interview with BoomTown, Oak’s Fred Harman said:

There is an inevitable shift from offline to online with people increasingly getting their news media online, and this election proved how powerful the Huffington Post could be. And I think the post-election perception of the Huffington Post has changed in the eyes of advertisers to being a key mainstream news site.

Harman, who will be joining The HuffPo’s board, also added:

The cycle of print media is accelerating downward and there are not as many companies with a balance sheet and focus to do it right online. The news market is really up for grabs in a lot of ways … and it is a good time for those who are viewed as authoritative.

Comscore’s traffic report of the blogging network seems to reflect that The Huffington Post is in fact doing something right.

HuffPo Traffic

Update: here’s the full press release:

The Huffington Post Announces $25 Million In Funding From Oak Investment Partners

New York, NY (December 1, 2008)–The Huffington Post, a leading news and opinion site, today announced that it has secured $25 million in funding from Oak Investment Partners, a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, California. The Huffington Post (”HuffPost”) will use the proceeds to invest in the growth of the company and for select and focused acquisitions. The company said it would invest in its technology and infrastructure, increase its in-house advertising capabilities, and continue to expand its content offerings–including a new investigative journalism initiative and a rollout of local versions of The Huffington Post in select cities. The announcement was made by Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer, co-founders of The Huffington Post.

“This commitment from Oak Investment Partners will allow us to accelerate our growth, with more verticals, more video, more citizen journalism initiatives, more cities for our local editions, and a fund for investigative journalism,” said Arianna Huffington. “We are particularly excited to have Fred Harman of Oak join our board; his deep knowledge of the new media landscape will help us to take HuffPost to the next level.”

Said Kenneth Lerer: “We are thrilled to bring on board a partner like Oak to work with Softbank Capital and Greycroft as we move forward. Since launching the site three and half years ago, the company has built a strong brand and an audience of millions who rely on the site for its mix of smart news and opinion. The additional capital from Oak will enable us to go full-steam ahead with operations and select acquisitions.”

Fred Harman, general partner at Oak Investment Partners, said, “Much of the news media business needs to be reassembled online around an ad-supported model and the timetable for this has been accelerated, not slowed, by this economic down cycle. We believe that The Huffington Post has built a platform and business model to be among the leaders in aggregating this audience online. Our financing will provide the resources necessary to scale the company, both organically as well as through acquisitions of additional talent and new media companies. We are also very excited to have the opportunity to back Arianna and the company’s strong entrepreneurial team.”

Betsy Morgan, CEO of The Huffington Post, said, “With funding from Oak, The Huffington Post is perfectly positioned to build on its incredible growth. Oak brings to the table a team with enormous experience and insight, and we look forward to working with them to seize the opportunities ahead of us.”

The Series C financing round comes as The Huffington Post continues to experience significant growth following the expansion of the site in 2007, when HuffPost began rolling out a variety of new sections, including entertainment, politics, media, living, style and green. The site also started its first local version, HuffPost Chicago. This year, The Huffington Post received widespread attention for its original reporting on the 2008 presidential race, including the coverage provided by its OffTheBus team of citizen journalists. HuffPost currently has 46 employees.

Harman joins The Huffington Post board of directors, whose members include: Eric Hippeau, Managing Partner of Softbank Capital, Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and Betsy Morgan.

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