AOL Beginning To Be Saved by Googlers?


by
Elias Shams
I have been following AOL on and off since their new CEO, the former Googler, Tim Armstrong took over a year go. It does look like he has been kicking ass and taking names since his take over! The company which has been doubling down on its own local efforts past several months, is now setting up a $10 million venture capital fund to invest in the local space – specifically “local content” services. The new venture fund headed by Jon Brod which operates as part of AOL Ventures will be targeting early-stage startups developing complementary technology and services with a local focus.

Did you hear that DC and NYC startups in “local content”  space?

The company cites the “increasing number of startups”  that have fundamentally been improving the local experience for consumers, businesses, and governments as driving the creation of the fund. It was just less than a year ago that they acquired two local services, Patch and Going. With the $50 million already spent on Patch, AOL now plans to add an additional of 15 more hyper local sites to its current 40 over the next three months.  I hope our Awesome Washington DC is their next target.

The company is also announcing it will relaunch its City’s Best entertainment guides in 25 cities in order to add “high-quality, city-specific content” and will add geo-targeted local content to AOL.com.

From Tim Armstrong interview with CNBC here, he sounds like he knows what he is doing – going after the untapped local space market:

There are two other big gorillas, Microsoft and Yahoo in the same space zeroing on the same opportunities.  As a Washingtonian with a lot of love for NYC, I hope AOL comes out the winner in this space. We seriously need another great success story here in DC area.

Last time, we had an awesome success story in our region, it was a company I was involved with as one of their early employee, Yurie Systems which was acquired by Lucent for $1.3 Billion in 1998. The acquisition provided me with enough incentive and funding to start my own internet company, Telezoo – the first social networking in telecom space five years before the Facebook and myspace of the world :-)

I hope the new move by AOL also creates more startups and more jobs in my two beloved cities DC and NYC. Given the current state of economy and unemployment rate, we could  use a little bit of help here :-)

The new investment fund is certainly further sign that AOL is seriously attempting to move away from an aging Internet access business, while focusing and positioning the company as a digital content company.

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

5 Responses to AOL Beginning To Be Saved by Googlers?

  1. vengo says:

    It will be interesting to see how Tim will guide the company in the next 4 to 6 quarters.

  2. I think branded content,leader board adv, and snipes over local video content is the wave of revenue building in the future, they are definitely moving the right direction. It will drive revenue, they just need the right content…..

  3. For me, it is scary.
    – They has invested a lot on ad selling (ad.com, …) … and they pay a lot now for closing office (ie : France).
    – They don’t know about content, they are not obvious on it. They are not anymore part of TW …
    – Nobody knows about branded content/brand content monetization. It is obvious that it is very risky to change completly its business model without any visibility.

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