The lowdown on Arianna Huffington's adviser and right-hand

No, we don't mean John-Roger. We mean Kenneth Lerer, the former AOL and Microsoft official — and ex-Democratic campaign strategist — who helped launch the Huffington Post and remains as chairman. Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast says he's been a quiet force in the site's rise, despite rumors (denied all around) of a recent professional schism with Huffington. Excerpt:

For the past six years Lerer, 58, has quietly nurtured HuffPo—along with his celebrity partner, Arianna Huffington—from a tiny collection of liberal blogs and news aggregation pages (an initially muted answer to the right-leaning Drudge Report) into an Internet powerhouse of such reach and influence that AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong sees HuffPo as the last best hope of his long-struggling company....

Lerer, its chairman, provided strategic vision and expert positioning in the trade press (where his relationships run deep and wide), and is credited with orchestrating sustained media focus on the notion that HuffPo’s market value would inevitably rise to the stratosphere, long before there was any reason to say so. According to industry insiders, he did much the same thing with America Online when he repped what was then the nation’s biggest Internet service in the late 1990s.

“Kenny’s strongest quality is the ability to see the nub of a problem very quickly, and to offer his advice unvarnished, but be appropriately polite and diplomatic,” says Walter Montgomery, Lerer’s former partner in the PR firm of Robinson Lerer Montgomery. “He’s not playing to the sympathies and biases of whoever’s listening to him. He’s sensitive to them, but he’s not playing to them.”

More at the Daily Beast.

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