Everyone has heard of AOL (America Online) for one reason or another. Many utilize the service, others saw the movie, and some simply relate to the term “You’ve Got Mail.” However, few are aware of the history or continued acquisitions of this media giant. Here’s a quick update of what’s been going on behind the scenes.
- Headquartered in Dullas, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., the Internet giant has done little for its shareholders over the past 25 years. It has acquired blogs, search engines, e-mail providers, social networks, ad networks, and Internet service providers (50 in total) — $11.3 billion to date with little to show for it from the investors’ standpoint.
- AOL recently purchased the Huffington Post for $315 million. Arianna Huffington certainly benefited financially from that transaction, but time will tell if the same can be said for AOL.
- In 1998, it purchased Netscape, a browser already on the decline, for $4.2 billion.
- It purchased MapQuest for $1.1 billion in 1999 just as Google entered the competition.
- In 2008, AOL purchased Bebo, a social network, for $850 million. AOL sold it in 2010 for less than $10 million.
- How many of you were aware of the following? Tegic ($350 million in 1999), Quack.com ($200 million in 2000), or Third Screen Media ($105.4 million in 2007) to name just a few.
- Of course, you can’t overlook AOL’s $184 BILLION (with debt) takeover of Time Warner which made headlines world over.
New CEO Tim Armstrong has continued the tradition since arriving in 2009 by masterminding 14 deals totaling over $600 million in the 15 months since AOL was spun off from Time Warner. The acquisitions continue to appear, but the value has yet to emerge for investors. AOL is fast approaching a do-or-die challenge and should prove interesting for those who monitor media progress.