Knowledge — 1 year ago

AOL Explained: Get to Know the Media Mogul

by Robert K.


AOL: What is AOL, How did it Get Started and Where is it Today

AOL previously AOL Inc was also known as America Online which is an internet service provider company and also a web-portal in New York City. Oath of the fame of Verizon Communications marketed this brand. AOL led and brought the Internet into implementation in the mid-1990s. It is one of the most popular brands in the United States for internet services. It initially gave a dial-up connection to the Americans, and also gave a platform for the web portal, email, texting and later an internet browser following its buy by Netscape. When it was at its pinnacle of success in 2001, it acquired the media house of Time Warner which was the biggest merger in U.S. history. AOL met its decline from there on. Mainly because of the decay of dial-up and ascent of broadband. June 23, 2015, AOL got acquired by Verizon Communications for $4.4 billion. It soon led AOL to arrange with Microsoft additionally.

AOL was, in the long run, spun off from Time Warner in 2009, with Tim Armstrong as the designated the new CEO. Under his authority, the organization put resources into media brands and advertisement.

The has a history of online administration known as PlayNET, which facilitated multi-player diversions for the Commodore 64. PlayNET authorized their product to another administration, Quantum Link (Q-Link), who went online in November 1985. When another IBM PC customer was introduced, the organization focused on the non-gaming administrations and propelled it under the name America Online. The first Q-Link was closed down on November 1, 1995, while AOL developed as the biggest online administration, overthrowing well-known services like CompuServe and The Source. AOL had reached about 20 million users by 1995.

AOL Mail

How did it get started?

It had the humble beginning of connecting service through the phone with the Atari 2600. Control Video Corporation (or CVC), established by William von Meister in 1983 made this possible and laid the seeds for the future AOL. It also allowed gamers to rent games at a low as $1. Steve Case the next CEO of the now revamped CVS known from then on as Quantum Computer services brought a significant growth. By 1985, they launch the appl link. All these happened in the pre-internet era. By 1989 there was a fallout between Quantum and Apple. They renamed as America online for DOS then soon turned to become America Online for Microsoft. By 1996, they started to charge a monthly rental and abandoned their hourly payment option. The merger with Time Warner and the imminent fall-out is all part of history now. What follows is a series of acquisitions and losses. Be it the acquisition of the networking site Bebo or The Huffington Post, AOL went on suffering downsizing many employees for a great period.

AOL – The Present Times

On May 12, 2015, Verizon disclosed its intention of buying AOL for $50 per share. This deal had an approximate valuation of $4.4 billion. By June 23 the acquisition was completed. Armstrong who brought in the change was still the approved leader. He believed it was done in the best interest of the company. They decided in light of the fact that the near future would bring major networks and they opined Verizon could help them through. The CEO also believed this step would gain the company an additional lifecycle of 5 to 10 years.

This deal struck a chord with the analyst  David Bank as he saw an opportunity to Verizon's advertising sales platforms. It also helped them with video production ability. It was made into a success by websites such as The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget. There were skeptics like Craig Moffett who did not see any chance of any significant changes through this deal. At the time of the takeover AOL's stock price to shoot up 17% and for Verizon's stock price it dipped marginally. AOL then had about two million dial-up customers. AOL launched ONE by AOL on April 14, 2015, just before the merger by Verizon.  It was a digital marketing programmatic platform. The main aim behind it was to bring in together, the different buying channels and audience management platforms to track and optimize campaigns by using different screens at the same time. September 15, 2015, saw AOL increasing the scope of ONE by AOL giving it a creative spin catering to media agencies for marketing and distribution.

On May 8, 2015, AOL received a revenue of $625.1 million for only its first quarter. Most of it, an amount, not less than $483.5 million came from advertising and related functions. Thus, it witnessed a 7% rise since Q1 2014. AOL Platforms throughout the years witnessed a 21% rise in revenue; It also had a dip in adjusted OIBDA which was caused by increased investments in the company’s video and programmatic platforms.

AOL struck up a deal with Microsoft on June 29, 2015. Thus it took care of the major digital advertising business for Microsoft.  This collaboration led 1,200 Microsoft employees gaining a transfer to AOL. While the company looked into the sale of display, video, and mobile ads for various Microsoft platforms across nine countries, such as in Brazil, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, Aol replaced Google Search with Bing and advanced its agenda of advertising further. All of it was part of its deal to revenue share. 


With two News and Documentary Emmy nominations on July 22, 2015, AOL ushered in a new era. The nominations were for MAKERS in the Outstanding Historical Programming category, and also for True Trans With Laura Jane Grace, which told the story of Laura Jane Grace, a transgender musician famous for being the founder, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me! She shared her decision to be out in public and her journey as a person and a musician. AOL took over Millennial Media for the US $238 million. By October 2015 AOL had completed the acquisition.

After months of beta testing on October 1, 2015, Verizon owned Go90, an ad-supported mobile video service which comes free of cost made its content public. It is aimed at young adult and teen viewers. It had the likes of Comedy Central, Huffington Post, Nerdist News, Univision News, Vice, ESPN, and MTV at its disposal for the launch.

On January 25, 2016, AOL further increased the scope of its ONE platform. It led to offer a combination of different technologies that are customizable. It was done simultaneously when  AOL’s acquired AlephD, a Paris-based startup. Its main area of expertise being publisher analytics of ad price tracking based on historical data.

 AOL plunged into 360-degree video and VR content on April 20, 2016, to cater to The Huffington Post’s global audience. Be it on desktop, mobile, and apps.

Verizon Communications announced on July 2016 its intent to purchase Yahoo! Verizon has plans to merge AOL with Yahoo to form a new company which will go by the name of "Oath." Till now Yahoo, as well as AOL, maintain their identity within Oath. But it is expected that by January 1, 2019, Oath will be known as Verizon Media Group.


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