Verizon has signed an agreement to purchase AOL for $50 per share, which is around $4.4 billion. Under the deal Verizon will take ownership of The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS and AOL.com.
It might seem a bit odd that a wireless carrier is buying a company like AOL. I don’t really think Verizon is buying AOL to snap up the last few subscribers from its old dial-up service. However it does seems that Verizon wants to be more than just a carrier. “Verizon’s vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multiscreen network platform,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO. “This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience.”
“Verizon is a leader in mobile and OTT connected platforms, and the combination of Verizon and AOL creates a unique and scaled mobile and OTT media platform for creators, consumers and advertisers. The visions of Verizon and AOL are shared; the companies have existing successful partnerships, and we are excited to work with the team at Verizon to create the next generation of media through mobile and video,” said Tim Armstrong, who will remain as the AOL chairman and CEO.
This does raise the question about the independence of The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget.
In other words Verizon wants to offer it subscribers a network on which it can access content, and it wants to offer some of that content itself, a strategy that actually dates back to the original AOL dial-up service on the 1990s.
In an internal memo sent to all of AOL’s employees, Armstrong said that “Mobile will represent 80% of consumers’ media consumption in the coming years and if we are going to lead, we need to lead in mobile.” He goes on to add that, “Verizon will propel AOL and comes to the table with over 100 million mobile consumers, content deals with the likes of the NFL, and a meaningful strategy in mobile video.”
Of course, this does raise the question about the independence of The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget. Every Editor for every major media outlet has at one time or another had to consider the tensions between running certain stories and the pressure to “please” a parent company or owner. So the question is this, will Engadget and TechCrunch face conflicts about their content and the needs of their new parent?
What do you think?