Friday, October 14, 2005

Time Warner mulls AOL stake! wait...

Yahoo!, Google, Comcast and MSN all vying for a relationship with AOL. This is a perfect opportunity for Time Warner to set up a listing on eBay for AOL and auction it off to the highest bidder. I imagine Microsoft can't appreciate all the sudden interest in AOL given how close they were (or were not) to closing an agreement on a joint venture. Makes you wonder if TW/AOL let the proverbial cat out of the bag proactively.

If that's the case, I don't see Microsoft gearing up to a JV with TW/AOL if they're publically vying for interest from other parties... That works well when you're dealing with vendors (having them fight for your business by forcing them to cut price or offer improved service), but tends to ink the well with potential partners. I also don't see Google/Comcast's purported offer flying either. Carving out AOL's growth vehicles (online advertising/IM) and leaving TW with a depreciating asset (AOL dial-up service) seems like a non-starter for a company seeking a growth story like a hangover-induced 2AM search for a Steak and Eggs diner.

Either 1) nothing happens from all of this due to TW/AOL's own inflated sense of value based on recent analyst coverage or 2) there's an outright purchase of AOL, with TW maintaining some large minority interest to inherit a growth vehicle story for the press.


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