Today it was announced that America Online (a company that has no future business model) is buying the Huffington Post (a company that doesn’t pay employees) in a move that made Twitter explode.
For the last year, AOL has stirred the journalism community with endeavors like the online news network Patch and the purchase of tech blogs TechCrunch and Engadget. If you don’t remember, AOL was one of the masters of dial up internet service in the 90s and unbelievably, that’s where the majority of its money still comes from.
Dial up internet services are still being paid by untold Americans who most likely no longer need the service. Obviously, AOL is desperate for a second act. Because their first one is over and the audience doesn’t even know it yet.
So AOL has decided to take their continuing but doomed revenue stream and make a legit play for the world of journalism. Honestly, I applaud it.
Few large companies are making big financial bets on online only journalism. Rupert Murdoch’s iPad magazine “The Daily” is an example, but others are hard to come by.
I have no idea how AOL will handle a long term investment in something that isn’t making money. Its certainly possible that this whole house of cards will burst into flames when AOL stockholders demand that these media investments turn a profit. Ideally, I’d prefer a private ownership group without the need to please stock holders quickly and quarterly and I have to admit that I don’t read HuffPo because I think much of their content is poorly made.
But you know what? When your house is burning down, you don’t worry about who’s got the firetruck.