Verizon has acquired AOL earlier this week for $4.4 billion, marking the end for one of the largest internet companies in the dot com burst.
AOL is not the same beast it was in the 1990s, but it has been growing its video and mobile advertising business considerably in the past few years. Chief executive Tim Armstrong—an ex-Googler—has been working to make AOL one of the largest advertisers on the web, utilising The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget as bases for new advertising concepts.
The all-cash deal also gives Verizon access to AOL’s 2.1 million dial-up customers, somehow still happy with the super-slow internet service. AOL has been able to maintain profitability through this unit, showing some of the cracks in the American high-speed internet rollout.
One of the most worrying issues with this deal is Verizon’s ownership of The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget, considering the latter two have both spoken in favor of strong net neutrality laws, something Verizon has pushed against.
Verizon previously owned SugarString, a tech blog infamous for having editors forced to not write about net neutrality. Engadget claims its editorial is safe from Verizon’s clutches, but we wouldn’t be surprised if some articles started missing deadlines due to higher-up intervention.
The Huffington Post might not spend long under the rule of Verizon, with an Axel Springer deal lined up according to AOL executives speaking to Re/Code. AOL might be prepared to sell off more of its company, to keep Verizon happy.
Verizon seems confident that the video and mobile advertising is worth $4.4 billion, meaning everything else is potentially expendable at any time.