The song remains the same. Clueless old farts make deals for legacy companies that are vastly overpriced, believing brands have meaning in the fast-moving internet world.
That’s right, while Microsoft buys Nokia, Facebook purchases Instagram and WhatsApp. Because Mark Zuckerberg actually uses the internet and whoever really made the decision at Microsoft does not. And how come we never hear about Redmond’s purchase of Skype? It’s kind of like Garth Brooks’s download site and album sales, if anything good happened he would have told us, but he didn’t.
The old CEO of Verizon knew what he was doing. That it was all about NETWORK! That’s why I overpay for the red company, because not only did I used to want to know that they heard me now, today I want LTE coverage in the hinterlands, which I get. But while this new bozo was shifting towards content he let speeds decline, AT&T is actually faster in some areas (don’t switch, you still can’t get a connection, LTE is nonexistent in too many places and you can get text messages days late) and T-Mobile is eating his lunch by providing power-users data access overseas. Want to increase your market share? Start with the influencers, those who get others to follow. Once they go somewhere else, you’re toast.
So what Verizon is buying here is an ad network.
But it could have bought the same service from a third party for much less. To overpay for AOL and its content is nuts.
As for entering a new sphere, I’m reminded of HP and Palm.
Palm is an also-ran with new technology that fails in the marketplace and is then laid off on HP which buries it. AOL is an also-ran whose prominence is in the distant past, like Palm’s was, and it cannot be resuscitated. As for Tim Armstrong, he’s a SALESMAN! Better to invest in a techie who can actually build something worthwhile than a guy who specializes in smoke and mirrors. Buying AOL is like buying BlackBerry. Something that once was that is dying a slow death, something with legacy adherents who are nearly meaningless. Acquiring dialup customers is like rolling up stick shift users, and even FERRARI has gone automatic!
As for the content play…
Speculators say that the Huffington Post may be spun off. As for TechCrunch, it was decimated when its star employees left eons ago. Because they couldn’t work for Mr. Armstrong. Who strong-armed them. As for Ms. Huffington, she’s got a nearly worthless site that has been trumped by BuzzFeed. That’s right, the HuffPo is all about link-bait, the lefties who supported Arianna left the building long ago. Once again, you’ve got an oldster who doesn’t understand the landscape who keeps saying she’s wining when she isn’t. Furthermore, BuzzFeed proves it’s all about original content, and Vice knows that he who has boots on the ground wins in the coming news wars. The HuffPo has nearly neither.
But the truth is Verizon’s Lowell McAdam and Tim Armstrong bonded in Sun Valley, that’s where it happened, at the Allen & Company confab. Proving once again it’s who you hang out with, who you know, that access trumps content.
So the game is over. AOL is finally dead. Subsumed into a larger company such that we can not assess its decline.
As for Verizon, which famously rebuffed Steve Jobs and the iPhone just like XM rebuffed Howard Stern, forays into content are a huge, money-wasting effort. Did you know that Verizon had a deal with the NFL? Nobody does. Verizon could have put a stake in the heart of AT&T the same way XM could have put a stake in the heart of Sirius, but instead, while it’s trying to figure out the future T-Mobile is putting a stake in its heart, because Americans are cheap and Verizon has got no cheap offering. T-Mobile is killing Sprint and Verizon is leaking too. But McAdam spends money on AOL? Isn’t it about the NETWORK?
Furthermore, the television/movie wars tell us if you want to expand into new territories it’s all about the content. That’s what Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are in a war over. Want to go into the content business Verizon, then feature exclusive content we want to watch!
What if you bought an ad platform and you had nothing anybody wanted to see.
Then you’d be Verizon.
Ass-backwards, if the strategy has any merit at all.
Call a spade a spade, this deal is nearly ridiculous.
But you don’t have to hear it from me, just read Twitter:
These are the people you have to convince before the Street.
But Lowell McAdam doesn’t know that…