Will an Infusion of Google Blood Save AOL?
January 16, 2010
I stopped using AOL a year after its roll out. Not for me was the interface, the scattered files, and the influx of AOL CD ROMs. I paid some attention when the company merged with Time, but the notion of a traditional media company and an online company falling in love and remaining happy struck me as an outlier.
Over the years, Yahoo became a free version of AOL and AOL struggled to replace its dial up business with new revenue. I gave a talk about AOL’s making clear that a tech company with old modem technology faced the same problems as a traditional book publisher dealing with certain technical innovations. This is what I call “when domains collide”, and the effects can crop up in aging high tech businesses, not just traditional media businesses.
With a Googler at the helm, more Googlers seem to be a part of the remediation for AOL. The most recent Google graft is described in “AOL To Name An Ex-Googler “Head Of Technology””. The key passage was:
Several sources close to AOL (AOL) management tell us the company has hired Jeff Reynar, a former Google engineering manager, to “run overall technology” and report to CEO Tim Armstrong.
I think this is a pretty good idea. However, the main message for me was that I argued in The Google Legacy that Google was an organization showing others how to be Googley. If anything can save Mr. Brin’s once beloved AOL instant messaging company, it will be the infusion of Google blood into the company. But the AOL patient may be too far gone, so if this strategy of Google transfusions works, we have a validation of the potency of the Google approach to online. Will AOL change search technologies? How “fast” I wonder.
Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2010
A freebie. I herewith report this miserable situation to the manager of Dulles Airport, a facility that has seen many AOL staff come and go over the years. Maybe even a few of the people who volunteered to be fired.