Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Verizon Now Owns Some of Your Favorite Geek Sites Thanks to $4.4 bn AOL Buyout

Verizon made some major headlines today when it announced that it will buy AOL for $4.4 billion, acquiring not just AOL.com but also AOL's "premium portfolio of global content brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget.

Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, said: “Verizon’s vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multiscreen network platform. This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience.”

The new acquisition may be a major concern to us geeks out there that frequent sites like Engadget as Verizon may want to change some of their formatting or even restrict/limit topics or content. However, in a tweet this morning Engadget editor Terrence O'Brien said nothing will change, with Senior Editor Chris Velazco going one step further tweeting, "if anything, I'm looking forward to scrutinizing Verizon EVEN MORE!"

Update: Engadget has posted this response to questions about the team's ability to maintain editorial integrity in the face of the buyout stating, "It doesn't matter who pays our salaries; we're not in the business of censorship. Engadget's editorial isn't for sale. It never has been, and it never will be. Not as long as I [Michael Gorman] and Executive Editor Christopher Trout are running things."

Buyouts of this nature often leave us sitting in murky waters, not knowing exactly what so expect from the new parent company. In this case however it would seem as though Verizon's best bet would be to leave their new properties to their own devices. All three are major players in the online world and have very strong followings in the tech sector. Unfortunately, we have seen in the past that parent companies do not see things the same way and changes are all to often made.

If the deal is approved by regulatory bodies, AOL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon, which means Verizon will not only get their content platforms, but also AOL's original video content and advertising platform alongside AOL's lingering dial-up business which still services 2.1 million people. AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong will continue to lead the subsidiary. If all goes well Verizon expects the deal to close late this summer.

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