Arianna Huffington’s billion-dollar Kickstarter idea

Does Arianna Huffington really want to buy back the Huffington Post from AOL (s AOL)? That’s what Business Insider suggested yesterday, in a post citing “gossip from industry sources.”

It was quite a conveniently timed piece of gossip because, today at Business Insider’s Startup 2012, CEO Henry Blodgett had a chance to ask Huffington directly if she had any interest in taking her startup back from AOL’s corporate clutches.

Her breezy response: “I would like to announce a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 billion… The first $1 billion campaign to buy the Huffington Post.”

Joking aside, she said, “I’m very happy, Tim Armstrong is very happy.”

But as the Huffington Post has grown, she added, private equity has expressed interest in it. (In its post yesterday, Business Insider said that in addition to the rumor about Huffington going to Armstrong with buyback intentions, it heard another bit of gossip about private equity approaching Huffington with designs to support her in a bid to re-purchase the site.)

When asked about whether she considered leaving Huffington Post after its sale to AOL, she said (as she’s said before) that her intention was never to exit, but to leverage AOL’s resources to make the most of HuffPo’s momentum. As evidence of that, she said, video views on the site are up 60 percent.

She also said that she’s focused on unlocking more of her site’s potential and making it more independent, but while sticking to a startup mentality when it comes to costs. “I still have the same budget I had at acquisition,” she said. “I’m a very frugal Greek peasant girl.”