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Verizon Media to be Acquired by Apollo Funds

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Apollo Global Management, Inc. (NYSE: APO) (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, "Apollo") today announced that funds managed by affiliates of Apollo (the "Apollo Funds") entered into an agreement to acquire Verizon Media for $5 billion. Verizon will retain a 10% stake in the company, which will be known as Yahoo at close of the transaction and continue to be led by CEO Guru Gowrappan.

One of the world's premier global technology and media companies, Verizon Media is comprised of iconic brands such as Yahoo and AOL, as well as leading ad tech and media platform businesses. The corporate carveout will allow Verizon Media to aggressively pursue growth areas and stands to benefit its employees, advertisers, publishing partners and nearly 900 million monthly active users worldwide.

All Hail a Forerunner of Social Media, AOL Instant Messenger (1997-2017)

Perhaps the only surprising thing about the announcement last week that AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is shutting down December 15, 2017 is that it did not happen years ago. After all, AIM had a market share of less than one percent… in 2011! But it was not always like that. For internet users of a certain age, AIM, like Nullsoft's Winamp, was likely once one of those must have programs.

In its heyday, the mid-2000s, AIM accounted for over half the instant messaging market; helping to popularise online conversations, as well as features, like custom icons and personalized profiles, now taken for granted. The service gradually fell out of favor as social media evolved, not an entirely unexpected development. But AIM's problems went much deeper. The service, like Winamp, was completely mismanaged by AOL, which was never entirely comfortable with a free product nor able to adapt (to the rise of mobile communications). The early pioneers of instant messaging, AIM, ICQ and MSN Messenger, engendered cross-platform programs, like Skype and WhatsApp, that are capable of handling all forms of communication, not just text conversations amongst desktop users.

comScore Releases March 2012 U.S. Search Engine Rankings

comScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, today released its monthly comScore qSearch analysis of the U.S. search marketplace. Google Sites led the explicit core search market in March with 66.4 percent of search queries conducted.

U.S. Explicit Core Search

Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in March with 66.4 percent market share, followed by Microsoft Sites with 15.3 percent and Yahoo! Sites with 13.7 percent. Ask Network accounted for 3.0 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.6 percent.

AOL and Microsoft Announce $1.056 Billion Patent Deal

AOL Inc. today announced that the Company has entered into a definitive agreement to sell over 800 of its patents and their related patent applications to Microsoft Corporation and to grant Microsoft a non-exclusive license to its retained patent portfolio for aggregate proceeds of $1.056 billion in cash.

Following the sale, AOL will continue to hold a significant patent portfolio of over 300 patents and patent applications spanning core and strategic technologies, including advertising, search, content generation/management, social networking, mapping, multimedia/streaming, and security among others. AOL also received a license to the patents being sold to Microsoft.

Yahoo US Search Share Slips In January, Google Still on Top

According to comScore, the month of January has seen all major players in the US Internet search market keep the positions held at the end of 2012. Still, there have been small changes as Google increased its share to 66.2% (66.1% in the previous month) while Yahoo dropped a little, from 16.2% in December to 16.0%.

Following Google and Yahoo was Microsoft with a 13.8% market share, while on the fourth and fifth places in January's top we have Ask and AOL with 2.6% and 1.4%, respectively. Almost 20 billion core search queries were conducted in the US in January.

Microsoft Would Reopen Yahoo Talks with New Yahoo Board

Microsoft said on Monday that it was willing to reopen talks on a "major transaction" with Yahoo if the Internet giant replaces its board of directors. Microsoft confirmed comments from corporate raider Carl Icahn about talks that could lead to a new takeover bid if Yahoo replaces its board of directors next month.

"We confirm ... that after the shareholder election Microsoft would be interested in discussing with a new board a major transaction with Yahoo, such as either a transaction to purchase the 'Search' function with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company," Microsoft said in a statement. The software giant said "it would be premature to discuss at this time important details such as the price or other terms of a possible transaction." They added: "We respect the right of Yahoo's shareholders to determine the destiny of their company, and we do not intend to engage in ongoing commentary on these issues in advance of Yahoo's shareholder meeting."

Some reports said Yahoo is seeking other alliances to fend of a bid from Microsoft, including a tie-up with AOL, a unit of Time Warner.

Yahoo And Google To Move Ahead On Partnership

The trial Yahoo has been conducting to display Google ads in its search results has been judged a success, according to sources close to the companies, and Yahoo is set to move ahead on the partnership with its one-time biggest rival in an attempt to stave off Microsoft's $42 billion takeover offer. We mentioned on Monday that an alliance between Yahoo and Google could receive heavy criticism from US and EU competition regulators, both companies are now working on a solution. Perhaps such a solution would be to only allow Google to serve ads in certain categories or regions. Even though this would limit the cash flow boost to Yahoo, the company would still come out significantly richer in the end, perhaps by as much as $500 million a year. Yahoo is also in talks with AOL over a merger to further increase its cash flow.

Yahoo to Initiate Talks with AOL Regarding Merging

While Yahoo "formal rejected" a complete buy-out by Microsoft, it would seem that they're still up for going at the great world of the internet with a partner. Since they can still be "swallowed" my Microsoft, Yahoo is looking into ways to increase their monetary value. While talks with Google and Disney are certainly under consideration, Yahoo executives currently think that merging with AOL would really bring the most benefit. And so, Yahoo executives are working on re-opening negotiations with AOL regarding a merger. Yahoo couldn't have picked a better time, considering that Time Warner recently began considering letting go of AOL.

Time Warner Considering Selling AOL for Cash

America Online, love it or hate it, has an incredible influence on the internet. While it was once a giant that everyone had to go through to get on the internet, it would seem as though times have changed. Time Warner, known for cable television/internet and for owning America Online, recently ran into some trouble. They also are noticing that AOL is not doing too well themselves. And so, what was once the internet industry leader is now going to be sold off to the highest bidder. At this point, AOL should be split into two departments. One department will run whatever AOL does involving sheer internet access. The other department, called the AOL Web Portal, includes a search engine and a lot of media.

AOL Pulls Plug on Netscape Web Browser

Netscape Navigator, the world's first commercial Web browser once used in 80 percent of all Internet sessions, will be pulled off life support Feb. 1 after a 13-year run. Its current caretakers, Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, decided to kill further development and technical support to focus on growing the company as an advertising business. America Online Inc. paid $9.8 billion in 1999 for Netscape and after almost nine-years of efforts to revive Netscape, the browser will be killed once and for all.
While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer,
Netscape Director Tom Drapeau wrote in a blog entry Friday. People will still be able to download and use the Netscape browser indefinitely, but AOL will stop releasing security and other updates on Feb. 1. Drapeau recommended that Netscape users should shift to Firefox instead. A separate Netscape Web portal will continue to operate.

Dell Offers Free Laptops With Broadband Connections

A few days ago we saw Orange strike a deal in which they offered free laptops with their contracts. Now Dell has signed a deal with a U.K. mobile phone retailer to distribute free laptops with the purchase of a broadband Internet access subscription. Starting in September consumers who buy a two-year contract for America Online's broadband service through the Carphone Warehouse Group will get a coupon for a free base-model Inspiron notebook from Dell. AOL broadband costs £19.99 ($41) per month. This free laptop which is by far better than the one Orange is giving away for free uses Microsoft's Vista Home Basic OS and has 1 GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, an Intel Celeron processor and Wi-Fi. The laptop can be upgraded for a fee. Customers also get a wireless router but have to pay a £14.99 laptop delivery fee. Jonathan Coham, an analyst at Ovum had the following to say.
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