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AOL Dumps $1.2 Billion Worth of Acquisitions 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the excess-inventory dept.
destinyland writes "The social networking site Bebo is being sold for just 'a small fraction of the $850 million AOL paid for the site two years ago,' according to the Wall Street Journal. Since its acquisition, 'the site has been shedding users as fast as Facebook and Twitter have been gaining them,' according to one industry observer, quoting an April memo reportedly sent by an AOL executive arguing that Bebo 'has been declining and, as a result, would require significant investment in order to compete in the competitive social networking space.' Bebo's traffic is already down 44% from last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, attracting just 5 million unique US visitors in May (versus 130.4 million for Facebook). And earlier this month, AOL shed the instant messaging service ICQ for $187.5 million — which it had acquired in 1998 for over $408 million."
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AOL Dumps $1.2 Billion Worth of Acquisitions

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  • Come and go. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (3msoceht)> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:00AM (#32598898)
    Web trends come and go. Much of the time, it is just a roll of the dice on the company's part as to which "trendy" startup they decide to buy. Hell, perhaps "Facebook" was just easier to say/read/pronounce for todays high-school drones, so it became popular. Or perhaps it was i'ts (once) simplistic interface and (semi) useful purpose. Or perhaps the flying spaghetti-monster decided to cut the strings. Either way, nothing new under the sun, and the lesson to be learned from here is that if you gamble on fluctuating trends and fads, there is always an inherent risk to be understood.

    And plus, if your company spams the world with digital coasters for a decade, well, your really screwed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      My partial differential equations prof said: "There are two notations for the sum of second derivatives, and ; They are like Bebo and Facebook", referring to the fact that the first is not used much, but the latter is really popular. IMMD

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DarkOx (621550)

      The lesson is Google and possibly Facebook(remains to be seen) are the exceptions. Most Web Sensations are just a flash in the pan. If it seems like its getting to the point where just about everyone you know has heard of it (assuming you know at least a few non slashdot readers), than it can only go down hill from there.

      If you own a part of it, its likely time to sell, if you were thinking of buying in its likely to late to turn a profit. Again that is to say unless the company is actually doing someth

      • by EggyToast (858951)
        And even those web sensations might be limited. Look how hard Google has been trying to get into more social networking -- Orkut is dead (except in Brazil), Buzz is lame -- and even they have a hard time of it, despite being massively popular in other avenues.
      • I think I agree with you in that it's an extremely risky market. I think investors will continue to spend though because the winners tend to win very big.

        Some acquisitions/investments just never make sense though (EBay + Skype), others make sense on some level but don't seem to go anywhere (Yahoo + Flicker), and lots of time I think companies are bought more for their engineering talent than their products (Apple + LaLa).

      • I hope AOL doesn't dump Netscape. I rely upon them for my internet service while traveling ($7 is hard to beat).

        Even web successes can eventually fail. Geocities was huge and then it wasn't. Livejournal had a brief spate of 2000s-era popularity until near-everyone moved to facebook. And so on.

        BTW the article also fails to take into account AOL's revenue. If they bought ICQ for $800 and sold it for $150 that's a loss, but if they generated $1500 in sales then AOL is ahead overall.

  • by tivoKlr (659818) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:00AM (#32598904) Journal

    AOL & Time Warner. AOL & Bebo. AOL and & ICQ. Gosh what's next...AOL and GM?

    Wanna lose money? Follow AOL's lead...how is it that this company exists anymore?

  • by troubbble (1314525) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:01AM (#32598906)

    AOL just shouldn't be allowed to acquire anything from now on. They seem to ruin everything they touch.

    • by Idbar (1034346) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:24AM (#32599018)
      Either they are really bad at business and they haven't realized yet. Oooor they are really good at one thing:
      money laundry.
      How are they still in business?
      • by trytoguess (875793) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:04AM (#32599172)

        AOL runs sites like Engadget, Joystiq, wow.com, autoblog, etc. They seemed to have been trying to rebrand themselves as a nerdy information hub for quite some time.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:36AM (#32599494)

        Well, they had a huge installed base, and while it's been declining since 2002, it's from a large peak and not all that high a slope. That's provided a ton of revenue over the years to let them survive these unsuccessful forays into other businesses.

        They still have about 5 million [wikipedia.org] paying subscribers. And they've actually increased the profitability per-subscriber compared to their heyday, because while in the late 90s / early 2000s they sold them dialup access (and had to maintain modems/etc.), these days they're mostly selling an add-on service on top of broadband internet access that customers get elsewhere. People for years would pay $10/mo basically to keep their email address that they'd had for years, or the software they were used to using (a lot of AOL users aren't that tech-savvy). Now you can actually get the software and email/etc. free, but you have to go click on something to request a transition to the free service (which is identical but w/o tech support), so several million people are totally voluntarily paying AOL $120/yr, for a service that also makes a good amount of money by showing them ads.

    • by Buzzsaw5 (1047078) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:36AM (#32599490)

      They seem to ruin everything they touch.

      Hopefully they'll acquire the Yankees next.

    • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:35AM (#32599762)
      AOL are like King Midas except everything they touch turns to shit. Netscape, CompuServe, Mapquest, Bebo et al. They buy these companies for their innovation and technology which they promptly smother until it is dead. AOL is conservative, risk averse, marketing driven company and inflicting that culture on acquisitions negates the reasons for buying them out in the first place.
      • What about CA? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cbraescu1 (180267)

        What about Computer Associates, you insensitive clod? Their track record dwarfs AOL's

        • by toxonix (1793960)
          I concur. We 'acquired' their CEO a while ago. He did nothing but pimp us out to the worst wall street bums he could find.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Firemouth (1360899)

        AOL are like King Midas except everything they touch turns to shit.

        It's called the Charmin touch.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by soliptic (665417)
      Bebo didn't need any help from AOL to ruin it. Have you ever actually seen a Bebo profile? It's like a bunch of feral children somehow discovered social networking despite being illiterate if not outright lobotomised.
      • by anagama (611277)
        The first time I heard about Bebo was what David Motari, brave US Marine psychopath, infamously killed a puppy by throwing it off a cliff. Feral children indeed.

        Here's to keeping Motari's name alive in the hope that he never becomes employed and lives a grand life as a deservedly homeless vet flying a sign at random freeway onramps.

        http://www.mahalo.com/david-motari [mahalo.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "They seem to ruin everything they touch."

      They should stick to touching themselves.

      • by Jim Efaw (3484)

        "They seem to ruin everything they touch."

        They should stick to touching themselves.

        They already did that: after changing from QuantumLink then making several years of "improvements" to AOL they ran out of gold they could turn into lead, and had to hop aboard the dot-com strategy of throwing up blindingly huge amounts of cash to get anyone to consider associating with them.

    • Somehow the term "endless September" comes to mind...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ncc74656 (45571) *

        Somehow the term "endless September" comes to mind...

        On 6134 September 1993, what would give you that idea?

  • AOL Is Bad At This (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:01AM (#32598910)
    AOL is very bad at acquisitions. They are all gung-ho about buying companies, but they just sit on them and hope they continue to be relevant (if they ever were relevant). They don't understand that you have to make things happen - these types of companies don't just improve themselves.

    AOL overpays for a company, lets it get stale and then sells it for less than its current market value just to shed it from the cupboards. Great business model if you can afford to hemorrhage money forever.
    • by Brett Buck (811747) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:05AM (#32598928)

      I think it's worse than that. Once a company gets associated with AOL, it's reputation goes into the swirling porcelain bowl. If they acquires the companies but didn't tell anybody, they would be far better off. Even my elderly mom and dad know that AOL is intrinsically lame.

            Brett

      • by khallow (566160) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:17AM (#32598990)
        I never understood the bad reputation that AOL has. They are a great charity.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by J Isaksson (721660)
        Not only that. AOL seems very US centric, the acquisitions they make (most striking example being ICQ) just seem to "stop existing" internationally.
        ICQ was quite popular among the people I know (in Sweden), but since AOL bought them I've only ever heard of them in the context of being considered for sale or now being sold. The service works internationally for sure, but the little marketing I've seen for Live Messenger totally crushes anything I've heard about ICQ for years. In the context of the Internet
        • Well, that's not too surprising. The name of the company is America On Line, its not like it's false advertising.

          • Indeed, not saying it's strange in that way. However, if you take a multi million users world wide system and basically shut down all marketing except in the US, you shouldn't be too surprised if your user base declines.
            • by Pikoro (844299)
              I remember the first time (living in japan that is) that I saw a Japanese AOL CD. Kind of weird if you ask me. America On Line in Japanese?
        • by xtracto (837672)

          Well... I was very surprised to see an ICQ ad in German television. It seems people actually use AOL over here!

          I haven't used ICQ since sheesh.. 2000 i think

        • by Ilgaz (86384) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @09:58AM (#32601634) Homepage

          Now, here is a very unknown and interesting thing. Turkey is also 16th country with largest online population. I also heard it is 5th largest user of Facebook.

          ICQ was the de-facto messaging standard here and AOL genius management/admins, instead of fixing their systems with basic bayesian filtering/speed triggers/spam reporting, blocked the ENTIRE country IP block from accessing the servers. For couple of months, people played around with proxies, open proxies resulting in a way bigger issue as some of those open proxies are actually nice honeypots for passwords operated by bad guys acting like stupid.

          Soon, people stared to their desktop and they have seen they actually have another instant messenger pre-installed by MS (windows messenger) which they previously joked as it is like stone age compared to features ICQ offers. All launched it regardless of how backwards it is and let me tell you what happened now: 35 million Microsoft messenger/live _active_ users in Turkey. That number is so high that, MS had to double check their statistics system. Today, you can even get Live messenger IDs of small grocery shops in villages to order stuff "online".

          I still run ICQ on my handheld etc. and guess what? Weeks after Russian acquisition, ICQ spam problem is down from daily/hourly to weekly. So, it could be fixed...

          It is not like AIM had any existence in Turkey so, "conspiracy to kill ICQ" is not valid. Unfortunate thing is, MS "Live", that backwards thing became the king because of them.

          • by genfail (777943)

            It is not like AIM had any existence in Turkey so, "conspiracy to kill ICQ" is not valid. Unfortunate thing is, MS "Live", that backwards thing became the king because of them.

            To quote Erasmus "In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king."

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      AOL is very bad at acquisitions. They are all gung-ho about buying companies, but they just sit on them and hope they continue to be relevant (if they ever were relevant).

      I think you're overly negative. I've created a Web site with the Lycos Web designer and am in negotiations with AOL to sell it for $50 million dollars.

      It uses animated gifs and LARGE PRINT TO ATTRACT CUSTOMERS TO PRODUCT SALES. The marketing MBA's at AOL obviously know a Winner when they see one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Arancaytar (966377)

      Well, they're consistently buying high and selling low. Their market strategy program probably has an inverted if-condition somewhere.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      AOL overpays for a company, lets it get stale and then sells it for less than its current market value just to shed it from the cupboards. Great business model if you can afford to hemorrhage money forever.

      Hardly unique to AOL. It's been a grand tradition for decades. Big company buys another big company. Execs all get together and talk about "Leveraging their synergies" and "Economies of Scale" and even "Better Service for the Customer". People at the top cash in, collect big bucks. Massive layoffs in the ranks as they eliminate duplicate positions. Customers see fees and rates go up, not down (at least when it's banks) and lose what little personal inside contact they had as their old familiar representativ

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Take ICQ for example. It was the IM for a while until AOL came out with AIM and everybody and their dog got on AIM. But why did they complete with themselves?
      ICQ actually had some games built in that allowed for multi player and api to write more games for it. AOL never went anywhere with that.
      Engadget is kind of funny. It is as about anti AOL as anything I have ever seen.
      I had hopes that when AOL merged with Time Warner and bought launch they where going to produce what eventually became Hulu but even cool

    • by tgd (2822) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @09:46AM (#32601518)

      Don't oversimplify the business market ...

      There's nothing wrong with buying a company for $400m and selling it for $200m ten years later if you make $300m in profit from it during that time.

      A car rental company sells cars for a lot less than they payed for it, and still got profitable use out of them.

      AOL may not have done so in these cases, but you can't assume a business transaction has to be buy low, sell high to be profitable or successful. In fact, it can be a smart move if you do the analysis and determine the work you need to upkeep the property in question isn't worth it relative to the revenue its generating.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        There's nothing wrong with buying a company for $400m and selling it for $200m ten years later if you make $300m in profit from it during that time.

        That's true, IF you actually got some profit from it during that time.

        Somehow, I doubt that AOL's acquisitions brought in much revenue at all.

      • There's nothing wrong with buying a company for $400m and selling it for $200m ten years later if you make $300m in profit from it during that time.

        I totally agree with the gist of what you're saying. But ICQ? Did AOL ever see a penny of revenue (let alone profit) from it?

  • Nah (Score:4, Funny)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:05AM (#32598924) Homepage

    They're just scared Amazon is going to sue them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:06AM (#32598934)

    BP has shown interest in using them to plug the hole.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      Can't they plug it with old AOL diskettes? There's billions of them in storage.

      • by PingSpike (947548)

        At least you could format over the AOL floppies back in the day. The CDs are completely useless!

  • Geeks Profit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It appears like companies that are run by business people and their accountants and MBA's never seem to do very well (i.e. AOL, General Motors, Apple under John Sculley). While technology companies run by geeks seem to do much better (Microsoft under Bill Gates, Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg, Apple under Steve Jobs).

    You'd think that the business geniuses with their education in management, marketing, accounting and economics would get that math right.

    • Re:Geeks Profit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:29AM (#32599038) Homepage

      jobs was the money man, woz was the geek.

      • Jobs has particular domain skills which go beyond pure business management.

        • by eulernet (1132389)

          Jobs has particular domain skills which go beyond pure business management.

          Yes, Jobs always wanted to become a guru.

          He finally succeeded.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        jobs was the money man, woz was the geek.

        Yes, that's true. Jobs WAS also a geek as well (although, to put it generally, sales and management were his primary duties). The point being that people who have knowledge and passion about what they are doing will tend to be more successful (or that's the hypothesis anyway) than people who go to school to learn how to make money or manage other people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Woz wanted to make products he would use, Jobs makes products the general public can use.

      • Re:Geeks Profit (Score:4, Informative)

        by wisty (1335733) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:41AM (#32599508)

        Jobs was a geek. He went to HP lectures while he was in junior high school. He then got a job at HP. He went to Homebrew Computer Club meetings with Woz, and worked as an Atari technician (where he ripped Woz off on the circuit board design).

        Woz on the other hand was The Geek.

        • by dangitman (862676)

          Woz on the other hand was The Geek.

          That's very insulting to the Woz. He is a nerd, not a geek. How dare you sully his fine reputation!

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Impressive. You've just mentioned the three biggest assholes in the entire industry, and called them geeks because you want to be on the winning side.

      Why don't you add Larry Ellison to your list there.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      Gates is a businessman first and foremost, jobs too...

      What both of these have in common, is that they were the business side of a partnership which included someone else technically minded.

    • Counter example: IBM under Gerstner (MBA, former management consultant, no technology company experience).

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      I think you'll find that Microsoft and Apple (and I suppose Facebook *spit*) has more than its fair share of managers, accountants, marketing people and MBAs.
  • Who? (Score:2, Funny)

    I've never heard of Bebo. 850 million? Maybe that's (just another reason) why AOL sucks.
  • *bing* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:20AM (#32599000)

    You've got fail!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gbobeck (926553)

      Me too!!!!!!

  • Come and Stay... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:22AM (#32599006)

    Someone make an excellent point about making sure that a web site stays relevant (using API's, observing the competition and keeping up with features). If you ignore what your competition is doing and think a site is good as is, you as owner of that domain are going to get trampled by any and all competition.

    However, I do not agree that facebook and twitter are 'just a fad'. Facebook is top dawg because of every reason. Fast loading, simple interface (no messy myspace background and image personalization), a great domain name. Twitter, same thing as facebook. Great domain name, simple to use and uniform formating, limiting personalization. Most people are not good website designers!

    • by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @09:45AM (#32601514) Homepage

      Facebook's a fad...

      It might be fast loading, etc. but it's usability diminishes with your social network growing (the news becomes NOISY...), coupled with the bulk of the content being mostly of the "and nothing of any import was lost" type stuff.

      The same goes for Twitter, really.

      What USE is it all other than being a participatory boob tube? Not much, that I can see. And, yes, I've got Twitter and Facebook accounts.

  • by Gregg M (2076) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:36AM (#32599276) Homepage

    Remember they bought Netscape for 4 BILLION! Then they did nothing with it ... nothing! They could have rebuilt AOL to work in the Netscape browser. The way all of Google works today. Overnight Netscape would have gained 40% market share. Even just the Netscape homepage could have brought in some money.

    • Remember they bought Netscape for 4 BILLION! Then they did nothing with it ... nothing!

      I dunno if they broke even, but they did better than 'nothing'. They got nearly a billion from Microsoft in the anti-trust settlement and the Netscape.com web page/portal has been a high traffic site all this time. Again, I dunno if they ever got to 4 billion with it, but they didn't do 'nothing'.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        I dunno if they broke even, but they did better than 'nothing'. They got nearly a billion from Microsoft in the anti-trust settlement and the Netscape.com web page/portal has been a high traffic site all this time.

        When they purchased Netscape, they thought it would work well. Unfortunately what they purchased was basically the most unstable version to ever exist. Netscape was really horrible by that point due to the complete rewrite.

        In addition to the money they won from Microsoft, they also won the rights to distribute Internet Explorer for like 8 years or whatever.

        The decision to acquire Netscape was a bad one, but all said and told, they handled the aftermath of that bad decision rather well.

        AOL's main prob

        • by bsane (148894)

          They also open sourced Netscape Navigator, leading directly to Mozilla and FireFox...

    • Can you imagine if they actually listened to CmdrTaco at right time and open the damn source (no matter how bad quality it is) years before?

      I speak about this article
      http://web.archive.org/web/19980113192359/slashdot.org/slashdot.cgi?mode=article&artnum=425 [archive.org] That is way before the "Cathedral and the Bazaar wondering around at Netscape building" times.

      That is from 1998. Of course, AOL is also the company who effectively destroyed last remains of Netscape brand via rushing Netscape 6.x out of the door whil

  • Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:02AM (#32599384) Homepage Journal
    They DO know that you're supposed to buy LOW and sell HIGH right? The consistency with which they're doing the opposite makes me wonder. I mean, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every once in a while, right? You would think that they would accidentally buy one good company. Maybe they have some sort of Midas poo touch, where everything they touch turns to poo. Actually this IS AOL we're talking about here, so maybe that's what the problem is...
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      They DO know that you're supposed to buy LOW and sell HIGH right?

      I always find this little rhyme useful:

      If ye buy low, and then sell high, you've pulled a cunning stunt;
      If ye buy high, but then sell low, you're just a stunning cunt.

    • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tgd (2822) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @09:55AM (#32601584)

      I've already said this in another reply, but that is a vast oversimplification of economics and business, and frankly is an incorrect statement.

      Example: You're Avis. You buy a Ford Fusion for $15k. Two years later you sell it for $5k. Was that a bad business decision? No, you got $5k out of an asset that was going to eventually drop to zero... *after* you already made $15k in revenue from renting it. Could you spend more money keeping it up to date and running? Sure, but your costs of upkeep skyrocket as you try to keep the vehicle modernized and competitive with the other companies with newer fleets. You're better off getting your $5k and applying that towards a new vehicle that you can make another $15k off of in the next two years.

      Its the same thing with any business investment. The total cost of the investment is the difference between what you paid for it and then sold it for. There's nothing wrong with the asset depreciating, particularly if you are making revenue off owning the asset and its not an investment purchase. In fact, that's the whole point of the purchase of an asset like that.

      In the case of a web property, culture is a fickle thing. Popularity changes over time. You can spend billions chasing popularity, or you can focus on being profitable over the time you own that asset. From a business standpoint, the latter is the right decision. Fans of the property may disagree, but a dwindling fan base doesn't matter in the business world.

  • by Etcetera (14711) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:12AM (#32599406) Homepage

    This actually kind of surprises me... From what I understand, ICQ is still a big player internationally in the instant-messaging space. Unless Skype is suddenly ruling the roost or something... And despite my qualms with some of their updates over the years (Newsflash: When you have to put out a "Lite" version of your software because your users refuse to use the bloated piece of crapware that your official client is, you're doing something wrong...) ICQ has done nothing if not tried to remain relevant, added features, tried to integrate with other systems.

    ICQ seems like one of the pieces of tech to keep... and not just for nostalgia reasons.

    ICQ #5632973

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:28AM (#32599460)

      Agreed. ICQ is nice technology. I certainly prefer it to MSN.

      However (this is a big "however"), the quality of social software is NOT its most important feature. The most important feature is popularity. And MSN and Skype are simply more popular. Unless that decrease in popularity is reversed, the ICQ ship is sinking. It may sink slowly, but it's inevitably sinking.
      It may be a wise decision to sell it for about 200 million. Another company that is better at marketing may now attempt to either find a niche for ICQ, or to turn mainstream chat focus back to ICQ. It's got a catchy name already, it could work.

      I never really understood why people preferred MSN over ICQ.

      • I never really understood why people preferred MSN over ICQ.

        when i had a computer with xp on it, msn messenger would ALWAYS start up in the background. so instead of running another bloated piece of shit (yahoo) i simply used msn. and msn started up even if i unchecked it from msconfig. i don't know how, but it did.

        • by FreonTrip (694097)
          You have to disable its auto-start capability within its options menu, or it just keeps growing back like a virulent fungus. Excising it with msconfig alone isn't enough.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SolitaryMan (538416)

        In CIS countries (Russia, Ukraine, etc.) ICQ is the most popular messenger. I don't like it, but that is what I have to stick to here for the same reason you are sticking to MSN.

        So, ICQ ship is doing OK.

      • I can think of a couple of advantages MSN had in the market at least here in the UK.

        1: MSN messenger was both bundled with windows (in a renamed and slightly tweaked form) and pushed through the hotmail service which was one of the most popular webmail providers at the time. I remember huge posters for hotmail in cyber-cafes.
        2: MSN messenger used your email address. If you had a hotmail address (see comment above) it just worked with your hotmail login details without needing any extra setup. It could also

    • by yakovlev (210738)
      This surprises me. When AOL bought ICQ it seemed to be for one reason, to destroy it. ICQ was, at the time, the main competitor to AOL instant messenger, which was the market leader in instant messaging.

      If what you say is correct, AOL both failed to destroy ICQ AND failed to make money on it. That's somewhat impressive, in a sad way.
    • by Threni (635302)

      Why would you use ICQ and not any other system though? And if you used ICQ, why not using eBuddy, fring, pidgin etc and have all the networks in one place instead of dicking around installing loads of seperate apps? How would a free, easily replaceable app possibly repay the $400m+ investment in it? It doesn't make sense on any level, unless some dweeb in a suit thought it would replace phone calls or emails or something...

  • Funny thing will be seeing a few of these businesses break off from the AOL control, then become successful. Maybe if AOL High Command would do a little less meddling, but then, they'd be Google, wouldn't they?
  • Seems like AOL's business plan lately is throw what ever they can against the wall and see what sticks. But again web trends and fads come and go so you never know AOL might grab on to something that works I know almost all my friends run AIM I know almost no one on yahoo or MSN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) *

      Seems like AOL's business plan lately is throw what ever they can against the wall and see what sticks.

      Well AOL had their business model yanked out from under them with the arrival of the internet. After that they became a "media company" by swallowing other "media companies", but the rudder fell off of that ship a long time ago.

      I guess we can just be lucky that they didn't decide to buy politicians and try to force through legislation that outlawed broadband and

  • I had never heard of Bebo until that video surfaces of the US Marine throwing a puppy off a cliff. He had linked to the video he posted on his Bebo page. I've heard of Bebo a few times since then, and it always reminds me of that puppy killing video. They should sue him for hurting their reputation even more than being owned by AOL did, at least in my mind. I can't be the only one.
  • While I do feel sorry for their employees, AOL going out of business would be a good thing. Their business practices stink, as does their customer service. Getting your money VS keeping good realtions. Dos vedonya, pinheads.
  • Does AOL still own Nullsoft / Winamp? That project has been floundering for years. I haven't used Winamp in a long time but I'd love to see someone else give it some attention and bring it back.
  • Did they acquire these companies for $1.2 billion of real dollars, or for $1.2 billion in AOL stock, which has little more value than monopoly money? If it was the latter, then they are actually making money on these sales -- it provides an indirect way of turning AOL stock into real money.

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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