Short answer: their business models were not based on direct sales of "published" content, i.e. in the case of the Grateful Dead, on their record sales. So why are the bloggers grousing now that Arianna and co. have sold the site for a cool $315M? Have their business models changed all of a sudden?
The buzz that is being generated and discussed right now, particularly in this excellent post by noted business journalist, Paul Gillin, on Newspaper Death Watch. Yes, it would appear to be something of a "PR problem" that HuffPost got a $315M sale price on the backs of bloggers who bought into our own blogger Fred Wilson's "freemium" idea, some of whom are now ticked off. Would it have made a difference if Arianna or her backers had sent a nice Valentine's gift over PayPal to acknowledge their love? Or not?
More importantly, what has really changed for those bloggers who decided that their exposure on HuffPost was payment enough? Since many of her early bloggers were celebrities who made millions for a few months' work, and who added their blogs for the same reason that they used to wear fake eye-glasses, we can assume that compensation for them was not an issue.
But what about the journeymen bloggers who covered news and opinion for free? Didn't many of them put their status as HuffPost bloggers on their emails and other personal brands? Hasn't HuffPost made it clear for years that they do not and would not pay bloggers? Is the bloggers' sudden concern for payment from HuffPost something akin to Claude Rains' ("I am shocked, shocked to learn...") leaving the gambiling room at Rick's Cafe?
These are critical issues and ones that concern my company greatly. We are keenly aware of the effort that goes into blogging and wish that all bloggers were rich and famous. While we do endeavor to share all sorts of things with our leading blogger/influencers, we are also, as a start-up, continually looking at the bottom line. I'd be very interested to learn your thoughts.