And Now, My Thoughts On the AOL-Huffington Post Thing

Looks like AOL is still spending too much to replace me.

(Context, for those of you who lack it: For two years in the mid-90s I was AOL’s in-house writer/editor and did all sorts of various writing and editing gig for them. Then I was laid off and shortly thereafter AOL bought Time Warner. I liked to joke that AOL realized it still needed content, so Time Warner was what they got to replace me.)

(And for the record: I totally would have been willing to let AOL buy out Whatever for only $250 million. Think of the savings! Well, maybe next time.)

(No, I don’t know why I’m still using parenthesis at this point. Just go with it, please. Thanks.)

29 Comments on “And Now, My Thoughts On the AOL-Huffington Post Thing”

  1. with your experience and background with the company, do you think the purchase is going to achieve the desired goals?

    When I heard the story yesterday the first person I thought of was you, lol

    Here’s some extra parenthesis for ya – ()

  2. Steve Davidson:

    I stopped having much to do with the company at the end of 2008 and it’s been pretty seriously revamped in the interim, so I can’t say that I have any real insight into its long-term goals at this point other than what I read. That said, I suspect hiring Ms. Huffington to run their editorial is no worse than what their previous recent plan was, which read as: 1. Create content somehow! 2. ?????? 3. Profit!!!


    No, technically AOL bought TW. Then the TW remnant eventually got the upper hand in the internal power struggle and eventually spit out what remained of AOL.

  3. When I moved out to this area, I was warned to stay away from AOL. They have employed just about everyone in Northern VA, MD and eastern WV in the last 10 years. Their churning of employees is the stuff of legend.

  4. #5 John – So, you’re saying that the Underpants Gnomes took over AOL?


    (Keeping with the parentheses theme…)

  5. Gratuitous Parentheses would be a great name for a band.
    (But that’s just my opinion.)

  6. I’m surprised that AOL bought Time Warner too. I always figured the latter was much bigger and richer than the former.

  7. #10 Jason – you forget the timing of the purchase. It was during the Dot.Com Boom, during which companies like AOL(.com) had such high stock valuations that they could buy out basically anyone by just offering them a gob of stock.

  8. Where is AOL getting all this cash? There can’t be that many elderly people who can’t figure out how to cancel, can there?

  9. Remember when AOL bought Bookmark? (I can’t recall exactly, but it was called something like that) back in ’94 or so? They paid $44 million for a browser. Two weeks later my software company bought a C library that allowed us to create our own browser in a month. Our total cost for the software and salary was about $7,500. AOL has a long history of making great aquisitions.

  10. @Michael Kirkland: Yeah, there really are that many. Or people who can’t get broadband and want simple dialup. That’s most of AOL’s income these days, that and VCs. And that’s why they desperately need something. I guess HuffPo sounded better than underpants gnomes. (The flip side of what John said is that while hiring Ms. H may be no worse than their previous plan, I don’t see that it’s much better either.)

    And Scalzi: I suspect with all the parentheses, you’d have have to knock at least $50 mil off the price. For only $200 million, is it really worth your time?

  11. If the theme du jour is “next band names”, dibs on The UNBALANCED PARENTHESES !!!)))11!!

  12. And this is why AOL is failing. They need moar Scalzis!!111!! If/When they offer you a buyout, as a thank you to them, please serve them Schadenfreude Pie, and serve it cold.

  13. #22 by ryber:

    Sure, they’re failing. But at least so far they’re doing so profitably.

  14. Booklinks! Thanks Liz. Won’t argue about it being a good browser… it was. But $44 million? And was it ever used in any subsequent AOL products?

  15. MVS: It was definitely part of the GNN software suite. I can’t remember if it was the original embedded browser in AOL 3.0 or not, or if that was after the devil’s bargain with Microsoft (i.e., we’ll use IE as our browser in exchange for desktop placement on all Windows installs). 1995 was a long time ago. ;)

  16. Hey, they can have Edged in Blue for a cool $20 million. I only get a fraction of the traffic, but just think of the potential.

    Might help if I started posting semi-regularly again.

    Maybe when I get my new laptop.

  17. (Don’t go overboard in using parentheses. Once you’re in that habit, it’s difficult to bracket.)

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