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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

, formerly known as America Online, is a web portal, online content producer, and Internet service provider.

AOL owns about 80 websites , including the tech blogs  and , the financial site and the sports blog network , the tech review site , and the Huffington Post, as well as the mapping service and , the blogging network founded by Jason Calacanis. AOL also the popular celebrity news site , though that site is now owned by Warner Brothers.

AOL was and reached prominence in the 1990s as a major web portal and provider of dial-up Internet service.

In 2000, AOL in the largest merger in American business history. The merger ultimately failed, and AOL to become an independent company again in December 2009.

AOL’s traditional business of dial-up Internet service has declined over the past decade, and its as a web portal has decreased, as well. It has of the 20,000-plus employees it had in 2004. Its web traffic still remains strong as compared to traditional news organizations, although its dial-up business still drives . In 2012, it to Microsoft for about $1 billion.

AOL in 2008 for $850 million and for less than $10 million. In 2013, it also  for $405 million and launched a called Gathr. It the following year.

As part of a , AOL began a in 2009 and later that year.

AOL had one of the , with 40 million uniques in April 2011, though AOL News was later that year.

In early 2009, it , which one of the largest political sites on the web. In 2010, it announced plans to to add to its 500 full-time editorial employees and and to group its 80 sites into 17 larger networks. After the purchase of the Huffington Post, AOL was estimated to have an editorial staff of as many as as of June 2011. Politics Daily was shuttered in 2011 when AOL acquired Huffington Post, and the domain now simply forwards to Huffington Post’s politics page.

In early 2011, a source leaked a 58-slide PowerPoint deck titled “,” which detailed the company’s strategic direction of driving down the cost of its editorial content while boosting page views and boosting ad rates with fewer, higher profile ad slots. The strategy was widely criticized and was prompted a string of .

In May 2011, AOL , a group of business-to-business sites devoted to energy, defense, and government. (It was in February 2013.) Later in 2011, it launched a called Editions and a called Editors Room.

AOL’s videos were kept off YouTube until October 2012, when the company to create YouTube channels for each of its sub-brands.


Main article: Patch

In 2009 AOL , a network of local news sites staffed by local reporters and community contributors. The move was the beginning of AOL’s move into producing news and other content, which would later include the purchase of Outside.in and The Huffington Post. After the acquisition, the company has pledged to dramatically grow the network and invest, adding an . After years of losses, AOL in 2014, retaining a minority share.


Main article: Outside.in

Outside.in is an aggregator of maps and local news that was purchased by AOL in March 2011 for a sum . Under AOL’s plans Outside.in, which was founded in 2006 in Brooklyn, will be integrated into the existing network of Patch sites to create additional local content.


was proposed in 2009 by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong as a by thousands of freelance contributors, who would be assigned articles based on search terms and paid based on traffic as part of an similar to the model of and other large-scale online content producers. (It for a similar purpose with web video.) The plans were by media critics.

Seed was launched in December 2009, and former New York Times reporter Saul Hansell was as Seed’s first employee. He issued his first shortly afterward.

In May 2011, Seed was as a “B2B” product. Four months later, it was to be defunct.

Through Seed, AOL every one of the 2,000 bands playing at the South by Southwest festival in March 2010. The project’s and freelance arrangements , though hundreds of interviews were published.

, Seed has been to its contributors.

The Huffington Post

Main article: The Huffington Post

In early 2011  in cash and stock, furthering Armstrong’s vision of reshaping the company into a news and content titan. Huffington was , which now included all of AOL’s editorial properties, including Engadget, TechCrunch, and Patch. In May 2011, the Huffington Post officially AOL News. Huffington’s in 2012, though that site had absorbed numerous other AOL brands by that point.

After the acquisition, AOL laid off and under Huffington’s leadership.

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: January 23, 2014.
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