So, yesterday Verizon announced that they are acquiring digital giant AOL for $4.4 Billion. At $50 per share, Verizon paid a nice chunk above the current going value of AOL, which was $42.59 per share as of Monday’s stock market close. The key word for Verizon being DIGITAL. It seems that the bottom line reason for bringing AOL under their corporate umbrella is AOL’s advertising platform. The former dialup company currently has one of the larger working video advertising platforms in existence. From that perspective, it seems a good and logical move for Big Red, who seems to want to begin making a splash (and profits) in video advertising.
But for me, the concerning part of this deal is the subsidiaries of AOL. Three of which are the Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget. One being a fairly major news source and the other two heavy hitters in the mobile news arena. For myself, being mostly ambivalent and distrusting of politics and politicians, the Huffington Post part in this will have little effect. But, as a fervent follower of mobile and especially mobile tech, I often read and follow both of the other two. Even though Engadget has often been accused of ‘Apple loving’, many times I find their insight on stories both informative and educational. While, TechCrunch is sometimes the original source for an article that I may write.
Going forward, I’m sure that I will find myself questioning the motivation behind the reports of either. And I’ll be looking for any hint of favoritism towards Verizon and/or the issues that Verizon may be for or against. Net Neutrality being a case in point. I’m sure that all three will be bending over backwards to show unbiasedness, but when your parent company is providing the paycheck, I’ll bet that it’s hard not to be on their side where some issues are concerned. And Verizon will certainly be looking over the shoulders of all three, ensuring that neither Huffington, Engadget or TechCrunch are painting them in an unfavorable light.
I realize that they are ‘minor’ parts of the acquisition, but mobile tech is what monopolizes a large part of my life, so that is what I immediately focused on. Hopefully, I’m making much ado about nothing, but I did want to point out that my first thought was that working for Verizon could very easily cause conflict of interest issues for news reporting services like the Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget.
I hope that I’m totally off base.
Source: USA Today
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