HuffPo’s Hippeau On More Acquisitions: ‘We’ll Be Opportunistic’

The Huffington Post’s acquisition of Adaptive Semantics isn’t an “open sesame” for a buying spree. “We’ll be opportunistic,” HuffPo CEO Eric Hippeau told paidContent, stressing that the company isn’t shopping. “We’re not looking but if there are things that are important to us, as demonstrated with Adaptive Semantics,” HuffPo would consider it.

Why was Adaptive Semantics the first one? “We know them well. We’ve been using their technology; it’s been completely successful for us and we haven’t found anything that worked as well.” HuffPo wasn’t anywhere close to 2.8 million comments a month — the May total — when it began using the company’s technology to manage its discussion areas. “We didn’t know how big it would get, how engaged,” said Hippeau. The acquisition and addition of Adaptive’s founders to the HuffPo staff (what we usually call an acq-hire) underscore the value of the comment technology, called sentiment analysis, to its current and future plans.

“We have built a whole road map for continuing to develop capability.” That road map doesn’t include offering Adaptive’s technology commercially, although Hippeau said commitments to current clients will be fulfilled.

Internally, the potential value isn’t limited to managing a high volume of comments. “We believe there are going to be applications in social marketing,” Hippeau said, declining to provide details. He also wouldn’t put a number on the acquisition. HuffPo has raised more than $37 million and execs like to remind people much of that is still in the bank.

As for adding Adaptive’s technology to the editing process, a la Demand Media or Associated Content, Hippeau said firmly, “One thing I do know is our site will always be curated. Technology makes our editors hyper-efficient so we will continue to introduce tools for our editors to do that.” It’s not a stretch, though, to see using semantic analysis to help ideas bubble up or other potential applications.