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AOL Dumps $1.2 Billion Worth of Acquisitions

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the excess-inventory dept.

America Online 122

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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122 comments

Come and go. (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Come and go. (2, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599398)

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:Come and go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599426)

slashdot-UTF8-fail :-( Should read delta squared and Nabla

Re:Come and go. (2, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600622)

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 something unique that normal people would actually find valuable. They might be some oppertunities yet to simply do something better the way Google did; but if you get into one of those it better be something the incumbents can't use their supperior resources to just leap frog. I doubt even if someone builds a better Facebook at this point they could reach critical mass before being passed by again.

Re:Come and go. (1)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601894)

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.

The leaders, in losing money. (4, Funny)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32598904)

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?

Re:The leaders, in losing money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599372)

The self-fulfilling prophecies made by the boards of corporations make it so.

"We're going to increase our market-value, while dropping profits! By paying ourselves bigger bonuses, we'll attract more people to this pyramid scheme so you don't lose your shareholder value, for now..."

Stockmarkets aren't a game of economics, they're psychological ones.

Re:The leaders, in losing money. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599622)

GM didn't need AOL's help to tank. :P

Re:The leaders, in losing money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32601448)

I'm of the opinion that AOL studied off of GM's ability there...

Re:The leaders, in losing money. (4, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600862)

As the saying goes, the only way to make a million dollars from AOL is to start off with ten million.

Re:The leaders, in losing money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32601184)

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

Because of people like my uncle, who have lived alone for 40 years, speak only to their cat, and defecate all over their own toilet seat, because they just don't know any better.

AOL needs to be stopped (5, Insightful)

troubbble (1314525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32598906)

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

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (3, Insightful)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (4, Informative)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (3, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599482)

Yet nobody hates them more than nerds. :s

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (5, Funny)

Buzzsaw5 (1047078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599490)

They seem to ruin everything they touch.

Hopefully they'll acquire the Yankees next.

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#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? (2, Insightful)

cbraescu1 (180267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600398)

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

Re:What about CA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32601506)

Second -Scruffy

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (2, Insightful)

soliptic (665417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600030)

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.

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601016)

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:AOL needs to be stopped (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600200)

"They seem to ruin everything they touch."

They should stick to touching themselves.

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (1)

Jim Efaw (3484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600838)

"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.

Re:AOL needs to be stopped (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600388)

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

AOL Is Bad At This (3, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (4, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (4, Funny)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32598990)

I never understood the bad reputation that AOL has. They are a great charity.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (3, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599104)

AOL = Always Off Line

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (2, Insightful)

J Isaksson (721660) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599068)

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, no news isn't good news. No news is abandonware.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599328)

Well, that's not too surprising. The name of the company is America On Line, its not like it's false advertising.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1)

J Isaksson (721660) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599440)

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.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601150)

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?

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600614)

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

Here is how they erased it from entire .TR (4, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601634)

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.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599208)

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:AOL Is Bad At This (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599604)

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

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32600522)

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 representatives are replaced by telephone robots (Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line. Average wait time is ... 3 ... hours ... 47 minutes). Large sums of money are spent on elaborate technical solutions that attempt to capture what the laid-off people already knew, followed by massive systems failures that shut the whole company down for days (OK, not this extreme in most cases, but I could name some well-known incidents).

Finally, they give up, as profits have tanked. CEO gets laid off, collects large golden parachute. Shareholders get burned. Purchased company is spun off and execs collect gobs of cash from stock options on the newly spun-off company. New company doesn't hire because they're cash-strapped - in fact, may lay off.

Rinse. Repeat. Often.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601426)

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 cooler. They had content and distribution but they even blew that one sky high.

Re:AOL Is Bad At This (3, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Nah (3, Funny)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32598924)

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

About half of that is in 30-Day Trial CD-ROMS. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32598934)

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

Re:About half of that is in 30-Day Trial CD-ROMS. (2, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600070)

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

Geeks Profit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32598948)

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 (3, Insightful)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599038)

jobs was the money man, woz was the geek.

Re:Geeks Profit (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599064)

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

Re:Geeks Profit (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599980)

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

Yes, Jobs always wanted to become a guru.

He finally succeeded.

Re:Geeks Profit (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599094)

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:Geeks Profit (0, Troll)

The MESMERIC (766636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599242)

.. people who go to school to learn how to make money or manage other people

gosh I hate those!!

maybe they should scrap all such disciplines related to management, business studies, etc

you can't really learn chemistry, physics, mathematics that well completely on your own.

but management? etc - you can from life experience.

so yeah probably most of the excellent managers out there are former computer programmer, designers, scientists, etc

Re:Geeks Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599302)

gosh I hate those!!

maybe they should scrap all such disciplines related to management, business studies, etc

you can't really learn chemistry, physics, mathematics that well completely on your own.

but management? etc - you can from life experience.

so yeah probably most of the excellent managers out there are former computer programmer, designers, scientists, etc

I would NOT advocate NOT studying ANY discipline. There is always something to learn. BUT, school in general is VERY over-rated compared to actual experience in the workplace. Notice that most entrepreneours often have little or no post-secondary education? And that includes Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zukerberg that I mentioned in my original post.

It would seem more pragmatic to have these people (who are already in business) take courses in management, etc. Steve Jobs may find that he is more successful if he studies psychology for example. He may learn that keeping employees under constant psychological stress actually decreases work efficiency (which most business executives don't seem to realize, even despite the fact many of them have LOTS of education). Many executives (like the people at AOL) just want to maintain the status quo business environment and enact lowest-common-denominator business strategies. And the sad fact is that for most people formal schooling is a complete waist of time, because the neuro-psychology and memory experts and educational experts inform us that most of what we learn in school is forgotten within the next three hours after a class (you can blame traditional and ineffectual teaching methods). Schools are designed so that they prepare people to pass exams, which isn't really very effective in the real world.

An education (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599462)

He may learn that keeping employees under constant psychological stress actually decreases work efficiency

I think you have a lot more to learn from Jobs than he does from you.

There is a vast difference between pressure exerted from without, and within. When younger I was easily able to work 80+hour weeks, because I was working on stuff I considered cool. From the outside it would have looked like pressure because it was for a crucial company demo, but I enjoyed the hell out of the push.

Jobs knows how to bring people exert pressure on themselves from within, to deliver better products.

Lastly I would say as proof, by any measure Apple is incredibly efficient and to claim studying psychology would make them more efficient seems absurd. They are running rings about companies with far larger R&D budgets.

Re:An education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32600104)

I think you have a lot more to learn from Jobs than he does from you.

There is a non sequitur and ad hominem roled up into one. Too bad.

There is a vast difference between pressure exerted from without, and within...

Well, I NEVER said anything about positive pressure, but I did specifically mention stress. In fact somebody one a Nobel Prize in (IIRC) 1965 for pointing out that stress is the number one problem in the workforce. In fact stress is a Killer; it causes adrenaline and cortisol to destroy your arteries and turn them into the consistency of sandpaper, which leads to pits that collect lipids that cause arterial blockages which cause heart attacks and strokes. Stress is the cause of more than half of the 550 million working days lost each year do to absenteeism. I'm not sure how this "pressure" is "beneficial" to employers, as you so ignorantly claim. Stressed employees also tend to show up late for work. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that 80% of medical expenses are stress related (despite what the anti-tobacco zealots and executive managers, and Slashdot Trolls may tell you). And 77% of the workforce report being stressed ("burned out"). Prolonged stress also leads to depression which leads to cognitive inabilities (including brain damage). I'm not sure how this is supposed to be GOOD!!!! for the workplace, as you claim. The loss of productivity to the workplace (in 1990) is estimated at 53 billion dollars. I'm not sure how this is beneficial, as you so claim.

Steve Jobs did loose key people (one from Pixar) and one of his programmers who ended up being arrested for throwing rocks at his house. Those are just the high profile cases I can think of (off the top of my head). I'm not sure how Steve Jobs's proclivity to micromanage, threaten and yell at employees makes him a good Manager (I'm not sure how, as you put it "I think you have a lot more to learn from Jobs than he does from you.") I can learn anything positive from his management style. He did make a lot of money by defrauding his early investors, and later on he saved money by illegally canceling Life-time product warranties. But that is success through unethical behavior, and not through good Management. The funny thing is that some major corporations pay BIG money to psychologists and the like as Management Consultants. They do this to SAVE MONEY. So I'd say your comments are based on ignorance and bias. Interestingly, management studies does involve social sciences like sociology and psychology. Go figure!

Lastly I would say as proof, by any measure Apple is incredibly efficient and to claim studying psychology would make them more efficient seems absurd. They are running rings about companies with far larger R&D budgets.

They've got good brand MARKETING, while other companies generally make better products at cheaper prices (especially in Japan). I guess you've never heard of Foxconn? Apple (and others) use cheap Chinese labor because of lax employment regulations in China and a large supply of labour. There is no genius in outsourcing labour to "poor" countries with poor employment protections.

Re:Geeks Profit (2, Insightful)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599106)

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

Re:Geeks Profit (3, Informative)

wisty (1335733) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Geeks Profit (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600354)

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:Geeks Profit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599090)

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.

Re:Geeks Profit (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599402)

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.

How can a Troll that lies about my motivations (i.e. "called them geeks because you want to be on the winning side.") be moderated Insightful? Blaming the messenger is STUPID. THINK, moderators. Use some intelligence. Just because these entrepreneurs are "assholes" does not mean they are not technically inclined. In fact if you bothered to read their biographies, which I have, you would know that they were very much geeks. And I'm assuming that the person who moderated the parent post Insightful also down-moderated my original post. Just because you have biases about some information that somebody posts doesn't mean that you can arbitrarily moderate...

Re:Geeks Profit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599852)

I've pointed out that a Troll was Moderated Insightful and I was Moderated down because a moderator obviously had biases. This observation was moderated Flaimbait, which shows the uselessness of the intelligence of too many people here. I wonder why I waist my time.

Re:Geeks Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32600590)

This is /.

One post with a most obvious error was +5.

Re:Geeks Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32600828)

Perhaps while you're waiting for your waaahmbulance, you could "waist" some more of your time learning English.

Re:Geeks Profit (3, Insightful)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600948)

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.

It's fair to say that being a colossal asshole correlates with business success far more than being a geek does.

Re:Geeks Profit (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600580)

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.

Re:Geeks Profit (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600654)

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

Re:Geeks Profit (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600970)

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? (2, Funny)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32598958)

I've never heard of Bebo. 850 million? Maybe that's (just another reason) why AOL sucks.

Re:Who? (-1, Flamebait)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599138)

I've never heard of Bebo. Me neither!

Facebook and Twitter? I have heard of those.

Guess what all three have in common? I am not a member any of them.

Don't worry, I don't use my real name on Slashdot either, so I guess it doesn't matter whether I use this site or not. (BTW I had enough karma to turn off ads, which I didn't bother to do for a long time... but when the ads started covering up what they call content, I did take that disable ads option...)

Re:Who? (2, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599458)

The first place I ran across a mention of Bebo was in this song [youtube.com] , which probably isn't a good sign...

*bing* (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599000)

You've got fail!

Re:*bing* (3, Funny)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599232)

Me too!!!!!!

Re:*bing* (0)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599914)

what's this story got to do with bing?? (except fail of course)

Re:*bing* (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599996)

Nothing - "*bing*" is the sound effect you'd get for a "you've got mail" notification.

Come and Stay... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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!

Re:Come and Stay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599186)

"Most people are not good website designers!"

AMEN!!

Re:Come and Stay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599610)

Same recipe as Apple...

Re:Come and Stay... (3, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601514)

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.

Remember they bought Netscape (5, Insightful)

Gregg M (2076) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599276)

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.

Re:Remember they bought Netscape (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599412)

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'.

Re:Remember they bought Netscape (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601098)

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 problem today is the brand. While some people like the brand, most really hate it. Its hard to recover a brand that is hated by most people. Even if they offered some good product or service, most people wont even try it to find out.

If they opened source/started Mozilla way before? (2, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601498)

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 while ANY Mozilla user/developer could tell them that it is way too early.

AOL Simples (1)

cheezegeezer (1765936) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599320)

AOL == Assholes On Line they always have been and always will be just that a bunch of ASSHOLES

--
Linux Free AND Productive unlike windblows that costs a packet and is brain dead for brain dead users

Um... (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599384)

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...

Re:Um... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601106)

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... (3, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Selling ICQ? Really? (4, Insightful)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599406)

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

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (4, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599934)

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.

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32600218)

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.

I double that. That was the reason for me, along with that my friends did the same thing. Clearly a case where Microsoft bundling software and quietly forcing it on the user gave them an competitive advantage. Still using my ICQ account for many years, though, as pidgin/empathy makes it effortless and ICQ always allow for faster file transfers.

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (1)

FreonTrip (694097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601022)

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:Selling ICQ? Really? (2, Informative)

SolitaryMan (538416) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600082)

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.

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32600752)

I never really understood why people preferred MSN over ICQ.

They don't. It comes bundled with their OS in the form of 'Windows Messenger' and thus they use it. It's the same trick Microsoft used to kill Netscape and it is working admirably, with no antitrust case in sight so far.

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (1)

yakovlev (210738) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600846)

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.

Re:Selling ICQ? Really? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600904)

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 (1)

PCMcGee (1308219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32599674)

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?

You have mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32599818)

As the great Robin Williams said, "You have mail I hope you dont have stocks."

RE: (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600532)

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: (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600576)

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 forced everyone to use their software on their network... MAFIAA-style. Perhaps in a parallel universe.

Bebo linked with puppy killing (1)

Flentil (765056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32600914)

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.

B'Bye Aol (1)

Shogun37 (1835726) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601456)

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.

"You might not know what Bebo means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32601536)

or maybe you've forgotten
it's just the tiny hippo way of saying . . . "
horrible acqisition.

Winamp? (1)

KuNgFo0 (519426) | more than 4 years ago | (#32601890)

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.
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