Some of you are undoubtedly old enough to remember Tom Lehrer, the satirical songwriter and singer who got his start, in the late 1940's, as a Teaching Fellow in Mathematics at Harvard [see Volume One of my Memoirs for a story about Lehrer in those days.] One of my favorites among his many tunes is The Old Dope Peddler, who, in Lehrer's felicitous phrase, was "doing well while doing good." The line came to mind as I was reading The NEW YORK TIMES at one a.m. this morning [old guys like me never sleep through the night.] My eye fell on a report that Arianna Huffington, of The Huffington Post, has sold her wildly successful left-wing blog to AOL for 315 million dollars [300 million of it in cash.]
According to the story, The Huffington Post is visited 25 million times each month, so the sale price works out to a tad more than $12 a visit a month. Hmm, I thought. Since The Philosopher's Stone is currently recording 16,000 visits a month, more or less, by that reckoning, it ought to be worth roughly $200,000. I could almost pay off my mortgage. Arianna will become the head of "content" at AOL, so maybe I could find a buyer willing to let me stay on as content provider.
What earthly use would The Philosopher's Stone be to a canny investor? Well, what earthly use will The Huffington Post be to AOL? As always, the answer is advertising. Apparently AOL is bewitched by the thought of those twenty-five million monthly visitors. Would this site be a good place to advertise? I don't see why not. Surely, anyone attracted by a 50,000 word tutorial on the thought of Karl Marx or a 240,000 word Memoir of an obscure philosopher would be on the lookout for Canadian prescription medications or online dating opportunities.
I am open to any reasonable offer. The Web is a wondrous thing, withal.