Verizon has come to an agreement to purchase AOL for $4.4 billion, or $50 per share, in a bid to bolster its digital and video platforms.
AOL became a household name in the 1990s with its dial-up Internet service yet as the years passed, the company never bothered to advance that aspect of its business (the disastrous merger with Time Warner in 2000 didn’t help matters, either).
In recent years, however, AOL has refined its business to become a serious player in the digital video and advertising industry. The company also owns several original content sites including Engadget, Huffington Post and TechCrunch – all of which are included in the all-cash deal with Verizon. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that AOL still has 2.1 million dial-up subscribers. That's far fewer that it once had but considering the fact that the service runs virtually cost-free, much of the $20 or so it takes in each month from subscribers is profit.
Assuming regulators approve the deal, AOL will operate as a subsidiary of Verizon with current AOL chief Tim Armstrong continuing to run the business. Both sides expect the deal to be finalized this summer.
The news may come as a surprise to those that had been following AOL acquisition rumors. Last year, the rumor mill went into a tailspin when AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was spotted at a bar with Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. Activist investors urged Yahoo to merge with AOL but obviously, a deal never materialized.