Huffington Plans Wellness Startup With Content by Celebs, Consulting for Companies

Backed by Big Investors

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Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, and Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber Technologies, attend the Bloomberg Vanity Fair White House Correspondents' Association dinner afterparty in Washington, D.C., on Apr
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, and Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber Technologies, attend the Bloomberg Vanity Fair White House Correspondents' Association dinner afterparty in Washington, D.C., on Apr Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A decade after co-founding the news site that bears her name, Arianna Huffington is poised to expand her media empire with a startup focused on health and wellness.

Ms. Huffington, 65, has held talks with investors about a new media company called Thrive, said people familiar with the matter. It plans to provide lifestyle content contributed by celebrities and bloggers, and provide wellness consulting services to companies, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Thrive is considering various business models, including advertising-supported content, conferences, and subscription-based wellness programs aimed at companies, the people said. Thrive plans to arrange classes for corporate clients to improve their employees' well-being and productivity, while helping them retain talent, one of the people said.

Jack Ma, co-founder and chairman of Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba Group Holding, has agreed to back Thrive, the people said. Lerer Hippeau Ventures, one of the earliest backers of the Huffington Post, has also pledged to invest in the company, they said.

Ms. Huffington didn't immediately have a comment. Alibaba and Lerer Hippeau declined to comment.

Ms. Huffington helped start the Huffington Post in 2005, relying on a similar model of celebrity contributors, staff journalists, and freelancer writers to draw millions of readers. AOL bought the Huffington Post for $315 million in 2011, and the brand became a key part of Verizon Communications' media strategy when it acquired AOL last year.

Verizon has given Mr. Huffington permission to pursue the new venture while staying with the company, where she serves as president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, people familiar with the matter said. Caroline Campbell, a spokeswoman for AOL, declined to comment.

In 2014, Ms. Huffington authored a book called "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success" and "Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder," which promotes the need for rest and work-life balance. In April, she published a follow-up, "The Sleep Revolution." In addition to writing and appearing regularly on TV and at conferences, Ms. Huffington joined the board of directors at Uber Technologies this year.

-- Bloomberg News

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