On a recent afternoon, Jimmy Soni was focused on the sort of topic that is central to the managing editor’s job at one of the world’s largest news sites, and it had nothing to do with gridlock in Congress or drone strikes. It was the launch of new, “floating” share buttons that would follow the user’s eye down the page.
“If you keep [the buttons] locked in people’s view, they’re more likely to comment,” Mr. Soni said. More comments and more social-media “shares” bring more of the reader engagement that has helped The Huffington Post grow its U.S. audience 15% over the past year, to 46 million unique visitors in January, according to comScore.
“In 21st-century journalism, editors have to think like technologists,” Mr. Soni said. “One of the key roles I play is [figuring out] how to develop products that help all the editors on the site, not just a few.”
Born in Toulouse, France, of Indian expatriate parents and raised in suburban Chicago, Mr. Soni grew up a news junkie and a computer nerd. That was pretty much his professional training, not counting stints with McKinsey and the Washington, D.C., mayor’s office; time spent co-writing a recently published biography of Cato the Younger, and a year as chief of staff for Arianna Huffington.
Mr. Soni impressed the AOL division’s editor in chief with his enthusiasm for digital media, and in January 2012 she made him managing editor.
“He has a deep interest in journalism and technology, which makes him uniquely suited to The Huffington Post,” Ms. Huffington said. “He’s been able to increase the collaboration between edit and tech, which has always been at the heart of the Huff Post’s success.”