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. crotchetyoldfan – The Crotchety Old Fan is Steve Davidson, also know as Rimworlder on many SF forums. Steve maintains the Rim Worlds Concordance project which is devoted to the works of A. Bertram Chandler and his most enduring character - Commodore John Grimes of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve. Grimes is science fiction’s original ‘Horatio Hornblower of Space’. More information about Chandler, Grimes and the Rim Worlds can be found at Steve also maintains a visual index of volume 1, number 1 pulp science fiction magazines on the same website and is a devoted collector of the same. ‘I’m an ‘old’ SF fan, which you can take whichever way you like, as I love the old masters (Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, E.F. Russell, Piper, Cordwainer Smith) and I’m well beyond the age you’re not supposed to trust anymore’. This blog is devoted to an investigation of the growing divide between ‘old’ - or ‘classic’ science fiction and the moderan literary genre that is currently sold under the same name. Steve has also begun writing reviews for, expects to be doing the same for, and is contributing various non-fiction pieces to various other websites, all of them concerned with science fiction of one stripe or another. Early in 2008 he became completely disappointed with the SciFi Channel and created The Classic Science Fiction Channel website that gathers links to public domain radio, television, film and literary properties. Steve had a successful non-fiction writing career - writing articles and books dealing primarily with the paintball industry (Four books and several hundred articles including editorializing, product reviews, sports reporting, educational and more) - which he has since given up in favor of blogging and fiction. (Leaving the paintball industry after 25 years.) One final book on this subjected is scheduled to be released in early 2009 (A Parent's Guide To Paintball). Current work on fiction includes several completed novellettes/novellas curently in submission hell and various chapters of three novels. Freely distributed current work - including several chapters of a science fiction/paintball novel and a pulp/comic book/fairy tale mashup can be found on his website.
    steve davidson

    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. Dave H – I can see Canada from my house – Aging dad, electronics nerd, embedded software developer. (I'm the guy who makes your microwave blink 12:00.)
    Dave H

    Parentheses are what gives a programmer his power. They’re like a force field that bends the compiler to his will. They surround arguments and simplify expressions.

    Elegant weapons, for a more civilized age.

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


    (Keeping with the parentheses theme…)

  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. 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.

  9. @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?

  10. Jeanne – I'm a reader, a writer, a mother, a wife, an ailurophile, a Writing Center Director, and a PhD in English Literature (specializing in Rhetoric and Composition and literature of the Eighteenth Century).

    Of all the reactions to this I read, yours is the only one that made me laugh out loud.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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. ;)

  14. 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.

  15. marlanesque – Martin Kee is an author, pseudonym, gamer, husband, Redditor, cyclist, paper-modeler, reader, and musician. He is the author of A Latent Dark (2012) and BLOOM (2013) He has also written numerous short stories and contributed to dozens of video games. He is perhaps most famously known for building papercraft Eve Online ships, which continue to haunt him wherever he goes. He lives near San Francisco with his wife and their myriad of pets. He is a huge fan of technology, cats, dinosaurs, music, robots, bad science-fiction films, drum corps, humor, books, steampunk, horror, ravens, and strangeness. You can follow him on twitter @fersnerfer, or on Facebook Who runs marlanesque? That’s me, Marlan. Martin Kee is a pseudonym. You can call me Marlan if you like. Why use a pseudonym? It’s easy to remember. It shows up better on an Amazon search. It doesn’t get mispronounced or misspelled. Does that happen a lot? Only since birth. I give “Smith” as a name when I order Starbucks. After a while hearing “Grande white mocha for… Mar….Marlene? Marlane?” get’s a little old. So what are you, some kind of writer? Sure. I write text for video games mostly. I wrote an entire story for a Marathon mod called “Sons of Ludd” in the 90s. Now I write copy and content for mobile games as well as test them. That’s it? No. I write novels and short fiction. For a living? Lol… no. Oh, so you aren’t published. No I am. I’ve been in newspapers, newsletters… I published a book called A Latent Dark. It’s up on Amazon and Smashwords. I have a second novel called Bloom that should be coming out next year. Oh, so not really published. Depends on your definition. The book has been workshopped, vetted and professionally edited. Also the cover is great! It would look good on any bookshelf. It’s gotten some excellent reviews from people who have read it. Do you do anything else? I play a lot of video games. I ride a bike. I build paper models. I like making stuff. Stuff, huh? It keep me off the streets. And it beats watching TV.

    I Worked for Netscape in the mid 90s and got laid off when AOL bought us.

    Eff those guys.

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