AOL’s Armstrong: ‘We’re Not In A Turnaround; We’re In A Comeback’

Sharing the stage with new underling Arianna Huffington at Federated Media’s Signal LA Conference, AOL (NYSE: AOL) CEO Tim Armstrong provided new color on his company’s $315 million purchase of the Huffington Post, noting the publication’s “great brand name,” which he said was a pull for advertisers, and adding he would not have purchased it if it did not have one.

For her part, Huffington said the deal provided the Huffington Post with access to resources it previously did not have, saying, for instance, that it would accelerate the site’s expansion into video. In the past, she said, the site had repeatedly de-prioritized video in favor of other initiatives.

Huffington and Armstrong also talked about the company’s divergent cultures; Huffington said she handpicks sweaters for her employees at Christmas ever year, an expense that is significant enough it raised questions from AOL’s staff when they were doing their due-diligence on the deal. Huffington called attention to the importance of naps, “having fun,” and “joy.” Armstrong didn’t say anything in response, although considering the recent guide that has been circulating about AOL’s content strategy he might disagree.

Armstrong also defended AOL’s overall performance, saying that AOL’s financial results in the short-term were being negatively impacted because AOL had sacrificed “bad revenue” for an improved “user experience” on its sites. Armstrong said: “Our numbers are going to look really bad.” He reiterated, though, that should change beginning in the second half of the year. “We’re not in a turnaround, we are in a comeback,” he said.

One final noteworthy exchange: Moderator John Battelle asked both executives for their impressions on News Corp.’s the Daily. Armstrong said he was “impressed” and said he thought the “plasma screen (will) be the most important screen three years from now.” Huffington called it a “great beginning,” but said “it’s strange for me to have any internet product being called ‘The Daily;’ the whole point is that it’s constantly changing.”

Watch the entire conference live here:

Video clips at Ustream