Report: AOL-Yahoo Merger Talks Get Serious

Against the backdrop of economic meltdown Yahoo and AOL are reportedly continuing their merger talks in earnest. We wrote about the potential combination several times during the initial wave of MicroHoo negotiations, when Yahoo approached TimeWarner as an alternative to Microsoft, and more recently again. Based on back and forth discussions with both Yahoo and Microsoft over the past several months, it appears that TimeWarner genuinely does want to deal AOL to someone (there are really on a few choices). TechCrunch speculates that the deal on the table contemplates a Yahoo acquisition of [...]

Yahoo Roundup: AOL And Yahoo Resume Merger Talks, Answers For Sale?, “Start Wearing Purple?” And Institute Recommends Conditions For Google Paid Search Ads

With Yahoo's stock nearing its 52 week low, conspiracy theorists might think that the Financial Times report about the resumption of merger talks between AOL and Yahoo was based on news leaked with the intention of boosting Yahoo and/or TimeWarner shares. However, it appears that discussions which began to fend off Microsoft's bid for Yahoo are resuming, as the two companies now try to figure out how to improve their respective fortunes. The other noteworthy aspect of all this is that it comes out of the first board meeting following the ascension of Carl Icahn and two allies to the Yahoo bo [...]

Google 10-Q Filing: AOL Investment “Impaired,” And Other Tidbits

Gary Price alerted us yesterday to Google's 10-Q filing. There's lots of stuff in there worth drilling into. The headlines this morning, however, concern Google's statement that it thinks it's not going to get full value from its previous $1 billion, 5 percent AOL investment several years ago. Here's the statement in the filing: We review our investment in AOL for impairment in accordance with FSP SFAS 115-1, The Meaning of Other-Than-Temporary Impairment and Its Application to Certain Investments ("FSP 115-1"). Based on our review, we believe our investment in AOL may be impaired. After co [...]

Report: AOL Units Being Readied For Sale

For months there's been anticipation that some or all of AOL would be sold. Talks between AOL and Yahoo have been ongoing, as they have with Microsoft to a lesser degree. But months ago AOL decided to separate its ISP business (8.7 million subscribers) from its advertising and consumer portal businesses. According to the Wall Street Journal today, the accounting exercise of dividing assets and liabilities between the two sides of the business has now largely been concluded. That means the way is now cleared for a sale or merger of one or both businesses. The WSJ article suggests both will be [...]

Report: AOL Merger Or Sale Likely In The Next Two Weeks

Reuters is reporting that TimeWarner is seeking to strike a deal with either Yahoo or Microsoft for AOL. It says that talks between the companies "have taken on new urgency ahead of Yahoo's Aug 1 shareholders meeting." Any deal with Yahoo would apparently be along the lines of a merger, with TimeWarner owning a minority stake in the combined company. By contrast, a deal with Microsoft would be an outright sale. A Yahoo-AOL combination would present some of the same challenges and difficult choices that we earlier speculated about in a MicroHoo merger. Arguably this scenario would be more [...]

AOL’s Leaked Searches Get Turned Into Play: USER 927

Remember when AOL released private search information back in August of 2006? Well, that story is now back in the news, after a two-year hiatus. Ars Technica reports that a play has been created around one of those searches, specifically searcher number 927. The play is named "USER 927: U are what U Seek" and is coming to a theater in Philadelphia on June 6th. Here is the play's abstract: Leah Letts has moved to Indiana with her 14-year-old daughter Deena to escape the rat race of New York City. Osterville is a safe haven, a place where people put down roots, where everyone knows everyone [...]

Earth Day Logos From The Search Engine Industry

As I posted earlier this morning, here is a quick compilation of logos for Earth Day from the search industry. Google: Yahoo (Flash version): AOL: Cre8asite Forums: Search Engine Roundtable (our theme, it actually glows): Past Earth Day themes and logos from the search industry: Google, & Yahoo! Earth Day Logos, 2007 Search Engine Commemorate Earth Day 2006, 2006 Ask Jeeves & Google Earth Day, 2005 Google Commemorates Earth Day, 2004 [...]

AOL Acquires Sphere & Creates Search Interface For iPhone

Sphere, software that connects contextually relevant content to your content, has been purchased by AOL. The Sphere Blog confirms the acquisition, and TechCrunch suggests the purchase price was at about $25 million. Sphere initially launched as a blog search engine but then adapted into a "related content engine," with clients from the Wall Street Journal, Time, Reuters, and others. In other AOL news, AOL Search has created a unique user interface for searching on AOL via your iPhone or iPod Touch. iPhone/Touch users just need to go to and to be presented with the new user i [...]

Report: Yahoo & AOL Approaching A Deal

Yahoo, AOL Close In on Tie-Up Deal from the Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo and AOL are close on finalizing a deal that would combine parts of both companies. The deal would bridge Timer Warner's Internet operations with Yahoo by folding the AOL unit into Yahoo. In return, Time Warner would make a cash investment of about 20% of the combined entity, valuing AOL at about $10 billion. Note From Danny: "In my talk today at SMX Sydney with Google vice president Marissa Mayer, she noted that the Yahoo deal was a way for Google to measure Yahoo’s traffic and how well it monetizes. This i [...]

In Unexpected Move, AOL Buys Social Network Bebo For $850 Million

In a somewhat surprising move, given the speculation surrounding AOL and its future, the company has acquired number three social network Bebo for $850 million in cash. Bebo has a reported 40 million unique users on a global basis. AOL says in its press release, "Together with its AIM and ICQ personal communications network, the acquisition will give AOL a premier position in the fast growing world of social media with a network of approximately 80 million unique users." Yahoo, which has been in talks with AOL about a relationship of some sort to fend off Microsoft, currently has a search an [...]

News Corp. Appears To Close Door As AOL Opens One To A Potential Deal With Yahoo

Monday News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch seemed to say that he won't be doing a deal with Yahoo, which argued that Yahoo had few options left in its bid to stay independent. However, today, in an article in the NY Times, Time Warner Chief Jeffrey L. Bewkes said that he's ready to make a deal and potentially spin off AOL. That could mean a Yahoo-AOL announcement of some sort in the coming weeks. The NY Times article mentions a potential deal with Yahoo only in passing and instead details problems and acrimony within AOL: "Several recently departed executives contacted this week described the clima [...]

New AOL Finance Gains Market Share To Become Top Site

TechCrunch is reporting comScore data that shows AOL's new finance site (which we wrote about here) passing Yahoo Finance and MSN Money to become the internet's top finance destination. If these traffic numbers are accurate, it would be a very striking development -- especially beating out Yahoo, which has held the top finance position seemingly forever. This is not just a question of bragging rights -- there are huge ad dollars that flow to finance sites. Interestingly, Google finance, in the comScore data presented by TechCrunch, doesn't show any growth. It's basically flat. This, despite [...]

From Browser To Digg Clone: The Short, Unhappy Life Of Netscape

Netscape has been reinvented several times since its acquisition by AOL in November 1998 -- and all of these efforts have essentially failed. In addition to a browser, the Netscape brand had been associated with a portal and discount dial-up ISP (and still is) before Jason Calacanis turned the site into a Digg clone in late 2006. In retrospect, TechCrunch says, the Calacanis effort was a failure. (Calacanis left AOL in November, 2006 and launched Mahalo in May, 2007.) TechCrunch reports comScore numbers that chronicle 2007 as a year of traffic in decline for Netscape as a "social voting" site [...]

AOL Creates “Platform-A Marketing Solutions” Unit

Trying to realize the promise of its "Platform A" integrated display advertising initiative, AOL has created "Platform-A Marketing Solutions." The new unit combines the formerly separate sales teams of AOL and Tacoda. AOL acquired behavioral targeting firm Tacoda in July of this year. The effort is focused chiefly on traditional brand advertisers and the top online advertisers. [...]

Coming Layoffs At AOL, Yahoo?

Silicon Alley Insider is predicting impending layoffs at AOL and recommending them at Yahoo. Alley Insider's Henry Blodget says that layoffs would be good for Yahoo and "Demonstrate that CEO Jerry Yang can make the tough, unpopular decisions necessary to get this company humming again." I think that he's correct that the pressure on Yahoo to do something like this will grow dramatically if its Q4 performance is lackluster. [...]

AOL Launches New Money & Finance Site, Powered By Relegence Search Engine

Roughly a year ago, AOL acquired Relegence, a search technology company that offers real-time information and data feeds on a subscription basis to Wall Street professionals. Now AOL is bringing the fruits of that acquisition to a newly redesigned Money & Finance site intended to go head to head with Yahoo Finance, which is the current market leader. The new site presents huge volumes of public data in a more dynamic, visual form, including a range of interactive charts and graphs. Compare, for example, an old and a new page displaying the current quote for TimeWarner, AOL's parent. Old sit [...]

AOL Buys Q&A Provider Yedda

AOL announced that it has acquired Israeli Q&A provider Yedda for an undisclosed sum. Comparable in many respects to Yahoo Answers, Yedda bills itself as a next generation "semantic" Q&A service. AOL will more broadly integrate the functionality into a number of its sites and properties, as Yahoo has with Answers. The release also suggests that search and answers, via Yedda, will be integrated to some degree in the future. [...]

AOL Confirms Quigo Acquisition, Integration Into ‘Platform A’

Based on the circulating rumor and reports, we joined the speculation that AOL was acquiring Quigo and would integrate it into Platform A. Today AOL confirmed that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the company for an undisclosed amount, which various parties speculated was $300 million. Here's the release. As the release points out, it's the fourth acquisition of the year for AOL, after Third Screen Media, ADTECH AG, and behavioral targeting firm Tacoda. Postscript: AOL advertising growth has slowed and is not outpacing the decline in ISP subscription revenues. Here's a discussion [...]

Report: AOL To Acquire Quigo For $300 Million

There are rumors and reports circulating that AOL is about to add Quigo to its now pretty full roster of online ad networks and technologies, which includes Tacoda,, Third Screen Media, Lightningcast, and AdTech. These entities are the backbone of AOL's "Platform A" integrated online (and mobile) advertising, er, platform. AOL now claims that its has greater reach than any of its online competitors. Quigo has an impressive client roster of online publishers and has captured a number of publishers from Google with its technology and notion of "independence." There were rumors [...]

AOL To Let Go 2,000 Employees

Kara Swisher reports on a layoff notice from AOL CEO Randy Falco. The bottom line, literally and figuratively, is that the company is trimming (or slashing) 20 percent of its workforce. The letter outlines the company's new focus on three business segments: "We refocused the business around three core areas–Platform-A, Publishing, and Access–and are now managing these as three distinct but related components." As AOL completes the transition from one business model to another, which was probably inevitable. Here's more discussion at Techmeme. [...]

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