Web empress Arianna Huffington is moving from Los Angeles to New York, multiple sources tell us, which means the globetrotting boss will finally be living in the same city as the editorial headquarters of her Huffington Post. Brace yourselves, underlings.
Huffington has lived in LA since 1997, and the HuffPo editor-in-chief's Brentwood mansion has served as a sort of remote command center over the main Huffington Post offices in New York. When working from home, in a staffed newsroom hidden behind a bookshelf, Huffington is in near-constant touch with Gotham editors by phone throughout the day. Although she frequently travels to New York (first class + bulkhead + aisle!) to visit the office in person, she's typically preferred to stay in hotels like the Mercer and St. Regis, at least partly on the company dime, instead of renting or purchasing an apartment.
That's changed, and Huffington's move to New York is now considered a certainty among HuffPo insiders (the three we talked to were unanimous). The HuffPo co-founder is said to have remained in Los Angeles in large part out of devotion to her two daughters, on whom she dotes: Former staffers have told us of arranging payment for the "unlimited credit cards" for one daughter and of booking hair appointments for another, back when they lived at home in LA.
But the youngest daughter Isabella has graduated from high school and is off to Yale in the fall, where she'll join elder sister Christina. That leaves Huffington free to move back East; her professional center of gravity has always seemed closer to her former hometowns of Washington, DC and New York than to Los Angeles, even if her religious cult is anchored out in California.
HuffPo's SoHo offices have already been prepared for Huffington's arrival: A recent expansion included big dedicated office space for her. Though the notoriously volatile and intense micromanager's presence will likely prove stressful for staff — "poor bastards," said one ex HuffPo editor yesterday — it should help Huffington more effectively oversee the planned growth and expansion of the site, which has raised close to $37 million in recent years and has surpassed all but two U.S. newspapers in internet traffic.
It's not clear if Huffington will retain her home in Brentwood as a secondary residence, and if she'll maintain editorial offices for HuffPo in LA. A key Los Angeles staffer is Willow Bay, wife of Disney CEO Robert Iger and a fellow Brentwood resident. A senior editor and equity shareholder, as well as a friend of Huffington's, Bay has emerged as a major force at HuffPo and a defacto deputy to Huffington. We're told her responsibilities include the hiring of major editors and broad responsibility to oversee basically everything but the news department. But then, maybe she could work from home.
We also don't know where Huffington will live in Gotham, exactly, or when she's making the move. The West Village would seem a good bet — it's close enough to SoHo, and ex-husband Michael Huffington has been touring townhouses for her there, in the $10 million range, the New York Post reported in June. Huffington has traditionally relied on a car service when visiting New York, and we presume that will continue, but it will be at least slightly harder for Huffington to bill the company for meals at New York restaurants now (expenses have reportedly been something of a sore point with investors).
We asked Huffington for comment Wednesday and have yet to hear back; if you know anything, we'd love to hear from you. In the meantime: Welcome back to New York, Arianna.