A great post by Andrew Havis:
I have been using the Internet now for a long time. I first remember logging onto the web for the first time in school around 1996-1997, so I have been online now for over fourteen years.
Anyone who used the Internet in the mid-nineties will know that the web was a vastly different place back then to what it is now. Facebook didn’t exist. Twitter didn’t exist. In fact, not even Google, MySpace or Friends Reunited existed. People searched the web using Yahoo!, AltaVista or Lycos, and social networking was limited to e-mail, chat rooms, Usenet or ICQ.
So what’s happened to some of the popular Web 1.0 destinations?
Faltering Internet icon AOL was able to squeeze out more than $1 billion from Microsoft for a trove of some 800 patents in an auction, the latest sign of just how valuable such portfolios can be for the world’s biggest technology companies.
“There is a fight for market share occurring on multiple fronts — technology, patents, advertising,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Financial who covers Microsoft. “Microsoft, more so than others out there, has been (using) its patent portfolio as a way to generate license fees. This should strengthen that.”
Microsoft refused to say what the patents cover. Benchmark analyst Clayton Moran said they revolve around Internet technology, including advertising, search and mapping. This would help Microsoft go up against Google Inc., a big rival that is ahead of it in all three areas.
Patents have become a hot commodity in the high-tech industry in recent years. They’re useful both for attack — for suing competitors — and for defense — for warding off lawsuits with threats of countersuits.
Rising star Facebook, for instance, recently purchased 750 patents from IBM Corp., a move that likely helped the company defend itself after Yahoo Inc. accused it of violating 10 Yahoo patents. Facebook shot back with its own lawsuit, claiming Yahoo is violating 10 Facebook patents.
Software patents can have broad applications, and thousands of patents can apply to a complicated product like a cellphone. Google is buying pho
It has been a very long week for AOL. And it’s about to get even longer.
Last Thursday, word leaked that one of its employees, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, was launching a venture capital fund that would include an $8 million commitment from AOL (AOL). Then came a more official version via the NY Times, which included positive quotes from both Arrington and AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong.
Shortly thereafter, however, a company spokesman — apparently acting at the behest of AOL editorial boss Arianna Huffington — said that Arrington had been fired. Another company spokeswoman clarified, saying that he was still in the employ of AOL, but in a non-editorial role that would prohibit Arrington from sourcing investment opportunities via TechCrunch.
Arrington mostly stayed out of the public fray until yesterday when he demanded that TechCrunch either be given full editorial independence or sold back to Arrington and other legacy shareholders (AOL had purchased the site last year).
But AOL is not giving TechCrunch its editorial independence. And it is not selling it back to Arrington.
Instead, Fortune has learned that AOL executives have decided to terminate Arrington. It is unclear how this will officially occur. Maybe a pink slip. Maybe Arrington submits a (public?) letter of resignation. Maybe Tim Armstrong simply gives Arrington a phone call, and he quickly dashes off a note to TechCrunch employees on his iPad.
This is a post I never thought I’d have to write. Unfortunately, I do. And the worst part about it is that it should be Michael Arrington writing this post, not me.
But he can’t.
TechCrunch is on the precipice. As soon as tomorrow, Mike may be thrown out of the company he founded. Or he may not. No one knows. And if he is, he will be replaced by — well, again, no one knows. No one knows much of anything. Certainly no one at TechCrunch. This site is about to change forever and we’re in the total fucking dark. I’ve been able to piece together little bits of information here and there, and it’s not looking good. Hence, this post.
AOL, a name once synonymous with getting online now seems like a blundering, staggering behemoth that annihilates anything it touches. Sad.
Mike Arrington responds to this in another article:
As of late last week TechCrunch no longer has editorial independence. Some argue that the circumstances demanded it. I disagree. Editorial independence was never supposed to be an easy thing for Aol to give us. But it was never meaningful if it shatters the first time it is put to the test.
We’ve proposed two options to Aol.
1. Reaffirmation of the editorial independence promised at the time of acquisition. Given the current circumstances, that means autonomy from Huffington Post, unfettered editorial independence and a blanket right to editorial self determination. To put it simply, TechCrunch would stay with Aol but would be independent of the Huffington Post.
2. Sell TechCrunch back to the original shareholders.
If Aol cannot accept either of these options, and no other creative solution can be found, I cannot be a part of TechCrunch going forward.
And you don’t want to do what AOL is doing. Week after week cutting off limbs. So that everyone inside the company is thinking they’re next. So the smart ones look for new jobs in earnest. By the time you get around to looking for the next place to cut, all you’ll find are the ones who didn’t get offers elsewhere. You just lost.
No kidding. Everything that AOL touches these days seems to end up heading in a downward spiral with writers fleeing from their posts or being laid off. The Engadget debacle was just one example of AOL’s heavy-handed kiss of death. These days, AOL seems to represent what is wrong with the web.