Buzzing About Possible AOL Sale

Mark Lacter • August 31 2011 3:24 PM

Not much doubt that the idea is at least being considered – company executives have been meeting in recent days with M&A specialists, the NY Post reports. The more relevant questions:
–Would anyone be interested in the entire package?
–If not, which units might be unloaded? (Patch seems like a dead duck, as do the other weak revenue generators.)
–Would it make sense to take the company private?
As Felix Salmon sees it, the company relies too heavily on its creaky dial-up service to bankroll all the content, including the Huffington Post. Sooner or later, that’ll catch up with you. With the stock price having fallen sharply, it’s probably sooner. From Salmon:
There’s no precedent for the idea that throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at a web content company will make it big and strong and self-sufficient. Expensive web content is expensive, especially when you’re trying to build out a network of thousands of locally-staffed sites. Meanwhile, profitable websites tend to be run on the cheap — including HuffPo, before it was bought by AOL. If I wanted to make a long-term for-profit investment in a website built on the genius of Jonah Peretti, I’d choose BuzzFeed over HuffPo any day. So the ruthless logic of the market would seem to imply that the best thing to do with the dial-up business and the content business is to tear them apart. The dial-up business, on its own, is ripe for a managed decline, where you extract as much money as possible before it finally dies. Private equity companies do that kind of thing very well. Meanwhile, the content business is still attractive, to someone — probably Yahoo, is my guess.
It’s worth noting that reports of AOL being taken over are not new – and the company continues to claim that no deal is currently being considered. That’s probably true – the M&A talks appear to be in their early stages, at least based on news reports. But I wouldn’t bet against a sale, and perhaps soon.

From LA Observed

BIG WAVES TO HIT BEACHES THURSDAY

An Antarctic storm has spun off large swells that are expected to begin pounding local beaches on Thursday. The breakers should build through the weekend and reach ten feet on some south-facing beaches — maybe 20 feet or so at The Wedge in Newport Beach, says outdoors writer Pete Thomas.
As with all large Southern Hemisphere swells, there will be long lulls between giant sets. Swimmers are cautioned that monstrous waves may seem to spring up suddenly, and because of this they’re advised not to venture too far from shore.

This is the same swell that greeted ASP World Tour surfers in Tahiti during a contest that was won by Kelly Slater on Monday. Surfline is predicting this will be the largest wave event of the summer and may feature some beach erosion and coastal flooding.

Fun for surfers, but a pain for lifeguards.

From L.A. Observed

Stajich’s “Hostages” Opens at Ruskin

As comic-actor-playwright-director Steve Stajich says, “Ah, summer time. To many it means hot dogs, lemonade, picnics… and of course two-act dramas about gender and power in the work place.”

He’s talking about the premiere of HOSTAGES,” which he wrote and is directing, on Saturday, September 10, at the air conditioned Ruskin Group Studio Theater. It will run with shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. every weekend through October 2nd.

Stajich says, “Those that follow my e-mails on theater projects will know that with each new play I always say, ‘This is the best cast I’ve ever worked with…’ and that’s because it’s always somehow oddly true. This is a dynamite group of six female actors and I am hopeful you will be able to come and see their work and enjoy this new play that addresses so many things that are happening right now everywhere.”

The “dynamite group of six female actors” includes Heather Ankeny, Bernadette Birkett, Lola Davison, Rachel Hardisty, Mona Ibrahim and Deanna Watkins. In HOSTAGES, They deal with “secrets, lies and business as usual.”

The Ruskin Group Theater is located at 3000 Airport Avenue in Santa Monica, across the street from and west of the Santa Monica Airport
terminal. Seating is extremely limited, so Stajich is “encouraging reservations. Tickets are a modest $10 with all funds going to encourage the Studio new works development program. I hope you’ll all be able to
join us for an invigorating evening of theater.”

Bye Bye Blues VI

Sonya Sones, author of the Los Angeles Times best-selling novel-in-verse, THE HUNCHBACK OF NEIMAN MARCUS (HarperCollins, 2011), will post a new poem on her blog (www.sonyasones.com/wp/whats-new/) every day for the next several weeks about how a mother feels when her child heads off to college. As a public service, we will post the poems in the Dispatch. Herewith, installment six:

We’re the First to Arrive at Her Dorm

We explore the sterile, echoing rooms
of Samantha’s suite,
scouring it for aspects to admire—

the view of the courtyard,
the size of the common room,
the picturesque slant of the walls.

Then, before we’re quite ready, the other
three girls come swarming up the stairs,
their suitcases and parents in tow.

All of us greet each other, shy as deer.
But soon our daughters’ breezy banter
banishes the hush.

Then, beneath the chatter, comes the tinkling
song of summer’s last ice-cream truck,
floating in through the open window—

it’s the same melody
that used to drift from the mobile
that spun above Samantha’s crib…

Michael hears it, too.
He reaches for my hand.
And when he laces our fingers together
the lump in my throat
threatens to cut off
my breath.

SUPPORT AUTISM REAUTHORIZATION ACT NOW

We have less than 30 days to convince Congress that it must pass the
Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, S. 1094.

$693 million of dedicated autism research funding and vital funding for the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) hangs in the balance.

California’s Autism Treatment Network Centers are in jeopardy of losing
federal funding. The centers not only provide treatment for thousands of
people with autism, they are striving to establish a standardized protocol for physicians who treat both children and adults with autism along with their comorbid medical conditions such as gastrointestinal and sleep problems.

Call Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the most influential members of Congress,
today and ask him to use his considerable clout to ensure that Congress passes the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act — HR 2005.His
phone number is (202) 225-3976

One in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism now. The bill is budget
neutral and its reauthorization is vital.

After you contact the Congressman, send an email to our action center, and
also spread the word on Facebook, ask all your friends to contact their own
members of Congress and ask them to support and cosponsor the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 – HR 2005, as the funding for the California Autism Treatment Network Centers is in jeopardy if the bill is not renewed by September 30.

LINK TO: www.autismvotes.org/CARA-ATN.

To learn more about the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, please visit our CARA Action Center. The next 30 days are critical. We also need your help in ensuring that Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein actively support the reauthorization.

Autism Votes is an initiative of Autism Speaks. Become an Autism Votes Advocate. For more information on Autism Votes, please visit www.autismvotes.org.