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Microsoft to Buy Stake in AOL 333

NetDanzr writes "According to various sources (Bloomberg, Reuters, CNet), Microsoft is in talks with Time Warner to buy a stake in AOL. While the size of the stake or its prize has not been disclosed yet, Bloomberg speculates that this deal would profit both companies. Microsoft would profit from merging the AOL portal with MSN, as a strategy to catch up with his rivals in this space Yahoo and Google, while Time Warner would gain some ammunition in its fight with a renegade shareholder, Carl Icahn. According to CNBC, AOL is just about to turn the corner and is currently the most undervalued division of Time Warner."
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Microsoft to Buy Stake in AOL

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  • Re:Oh no. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2005 @10:52AM (#13566446)
    You mean Revelation. It is not plural.
  • Re:Bye bye Netscape (Score:3, Informative)

    by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @10:53AM (#13566450)

    Does this mark the end of netscape?

    I'm not an AOL user, so I don't know if AOL even uses Netscape anymore. But their Downloads page says that AOL Explorer [] is based on IE.

    In any case, there's always Mozilla/Firefox...

  • Re:Bye bye Netscape (Score:2, Informative)

    by WWWWolf ( 2428 ) <> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @10:59AM (#13566522) Homepage

    As if there was any Netscape left to end. The thing is these days nothing but a rotting husk or an aimlessly wandering ghost. Go google for "brand necrophilia" and see what comes up.

    I wouldn't be least bit surprised if I saw "Microsoft Netscape" or whatever. At least that would put end to all of those jokes about confused people calling tech support.

  • prize or price? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:00AM (#13566529)
    ...Microsoft is in talks with Time Warner to buy a stake in AOL. While the size of the stake or its prize has not been disclosed yet...

    Disclaimer: English is not my 1st language!

    ...but I think it is supposed to be price in the introductory sentence.

  • by mwigmani ( 558450 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:02AM (#13566557)
    ...but MSN is used by more than a handful of people [].
  • by ranson ( 824789 ) * on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:03AM (#13566576) Homepage Journal
    > Does this mean that AOL will never complete its > planned switch from IE to the browser it owns > (Netscape)?

    Don't know where you get your information, but there was never any public discussion of a planned switch. The Compuserve and Mac clients use Gecko, and while it was tested in the WIndows client, an official plan to switch has never been publicly acknowledged. I can assure you AOL will be using IE as the core browser for many years to come (and that was true even prior to the MSN deal talks).
  • Re:This is worrying (Score:5, Informative)

    by sspurrier ( 915063 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:05AM (#13566598)
    Insightful? AOL divested of its contribution to Netscape a couple of years ago. While they still put out a netscape product based on mozilla they are no where near the main contributor to mozilla. Most of the main developers have long since moved on.
  • by ear1grey ( 697747 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:17AM (#13566730) Homepage
    1. Netscape the company is long gone. There are a few people left, but 99% of the "original" 4000 or so employees who had an email address moved on. Look at [] and compare it to this archived version [] from 2000.
    2. The brand has already been repeatedly scuttled by (among other things):
      1. the squandering of the server assets by AOL (to the benefit of Sun)
      2. the missed opportunity for AOL to run on Netscape products.
      3. the "Netscape Online" ISP that failed to ignite much interest.

    Just be thankful that the Mozilla Foundation is independent of AOL.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:47AM (#13567039)
    Yes, I do. The game was already over for them at that stage. Did you ever use their gear? They were getting whacked by midrange boxes big time.
  • by wheatking ( 608436 ) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @11:59AM (#13567137)
    Currently no value is placed on the most valuable asset AOL continues to have -- its 17 million or so subscribers (paid). Certainly there is no way TimeWarner can leverage this asset (and the market valuation reflects that). Any of the other portal/subscriber players (Yahoo, MSN, and even Google) would love to add 17million to their base and perhaps even someone like Ebay (better than the skype hordes imho) could/should be interested. Comapred to the few million each with SBC, Comcast, Earthlink, and Bellsouth, the 17million number is by far the most interesting.
  • by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxpro@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @12:11PM (#13567254)

    Its fitting to see that Time Warner is planning on ditching its stake in AOL (just as its turning around) to a *former competitor* in order to boost share price and fend off a corporate raider like Carl Icahn today. 21 odd years ago, Warner Communications, facing a declining stock price and facing a corporate raider named Rupert Murdoch, sold off a 75% stake in Atari Inc. (the home computer/videogame division - later to be known as Atari Corp.) to *former competitor* Jack Tramiel (founder of Commodore) for $350 million in promissory notes in order to take off immediate pressure on Warner's stock. Murdoch eventually bought a controlling stake in 20th Century Fox instead since one of its big time shareholders fled the country on tax evasion. And it was evident even then that Atari was ready for a turnaround with the Atari 7800 ready for the market, hot 8 bit computers in heavy demand (the 1400XL and the 1450XLD) nearing release, a locked agreement to market the Amiga computer, and an almost completed agreement for non-Japanese worldwide rights to the Nintendo Famicom (which became the NES).

    Great track record, Time Warner! That's twice in a generation that you've botched the "synergy" payoff from having control of premiere tech companies with mass market appeal. First Atari, and then AOL.

    And let's recap the failures of Time Warner with AOL. Time Warner corporate failed to get Time Warner Cable to carry AOL as its premiere ISP, which was the #1 reason why AOL pursued the merger in the first place. Time Warner corporate failed to take any initiative to getting Time Warner Cable to make a deal with TiVo for set-top DVRs even though through AOL, Time Warner held a large stake in TiVo. Time Warner failed to leverage AOL's WinAmp property combined with the Warner Music Group interests...not to mention failing to envision an actual online music store like iTunes and instead relied upon nobody's favorite company Real to make MusicNet a success that it never became. I could list much more, but I'll end it with settling with Microsoft for less than $1 billion the antitrust case that AOL easily would've won the $10 billion they were demanding (and had that figure trebbled) had they committed to fight for the eventual ruling and a good 5 years of appeals.

    At this point, I'm all for Time Warner splitting up. Steve Ross must be spinning in his grave and it'll probably take Ted Turner to his well ahead of schedule.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama