AOL is nearing it's first full year as an independent company and they are trying to once again remake their identity. Their plan is to become a "content company," and to shed their reputation as the Internet service provider, which they once were popularly known for. Just last week, they made news by their three new acquisitions of blog network TechCrunch, online video distributor 5Min Media and social-media company Thing Labs. These were AOL's first steps toward establishing themselves as a rising-star content company on the Web.
AOL is a widely recognized brand and still has a large audience, which continue to visit the AOL website homepage every day. However, they understand that they have some gaps to fill to become the most reliable and compelling company for Internet content. By acquiring the three companies last week, they feel that they are on the right path to achieve their goal.
ThingLabs is a Web software developer that created Brizzly, an online application that allows users to post and read updates from Twitter and Facebook. 5Min Media is a small site, known for videos on projects that people can do by themselves, such as art and home improvement. These acquisitions are good first steps toward establishing their name as a leader in the Internet content business.
Not only has AOL been buying, but they have been selling, as well. This past June, they sold the rights to social network Bebo to a private investment group, after acquiring it for 850 million USD in 2008. They also sold instant messaging service ICQ in July for 188 million USD, which was less than half of what they paid for it. Lastly, they sold the rights to Buy.at, once again, at a loss.
Now is the time for AOL to take action, if they want to live up to their aspirations of being the go-to Internet content company. AOL is continually looking for content that relates to multicultural audiences. It is still unclear if AOL can take the lead in the content field, but they certainly are making a lot of moves to achieve that goal. AOL has plenty of competition to hurdle which include some other heavyweight in their own right, like Yahoo, as well as newspapers, who are trying to find their niche in the changing communications paradigm, not to mention a global landscape of independent blogs. Good luck on your quest AOL