April Fools Pranks From Around The Web

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It’s April fools day otherwise known as the day when you disregard all news on the Internet and check back the next day to see if it’s real. Playing on the silly side, Google, AOL and a few others have put up their elaborate and humorous April Fool’s Day pranks.

Huffington Post Erects PayWall For NYTimes Employees

The New York Times has faced some retaliation from readers and Bloggers over erecting a paywall. While the publisher has tried to make good by allowing incoming links from social channels to sidestep the wall, backlash hasn’t eased.

Recognizing the opportunity to poke fun and mock the New York Times was AOL/HuffPo’s own pay wall. This pay wall is exclusive for New York Time’s Employees and mocks the restrictions placed on article viewing.

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AOL/HuffPost: We Want Real Staffers Not Bloggers


AOL’s acquisition of Huffington Post hasn’t been without consequence. 30 AOL owned brands have been squandered, 900+ laid off and others axed in favor of journalists.

The $315 Million acquisition of Huffington Post is part of a new path for AOL. In the past few months, Tim Armstrong released an internal company document detailing the new content direction AOL would be taking. The document came under fire for exploiting popular trends and churning out knee-jerk Blog posts in favor of increased traffic and revenue.

Huffington Post, which is powering AOL’s new content revamp has folded or absorbed 30 AOL brands. In the aftermath, 900+ AOL employees have been laid off and more face the axe. Freelancers employed by AOL are left wondering what their fate in the new company is.

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Biz Stone Joins Huffington Post, AOL


The Huffington Post Media Group, now part of AOL Inc., announced that Biz Stone, Twitter’s co-founder, is joining the company to serve as Strategic Adviser for Social Impact. Stone will be advising both Huffington Post and AOL on cause-based initiatives and on developing a platform to facilitate people doing service in their communities. He is also expected to rally other companies to invest in and deploy best corporate practices, as well as create and develop a video series spotlighting leading companies and executives at the forefront of philanthropy and corporate responsibility.

Meanwhile, Huffington Post and AOL’s is intensifying its commitment to give back to the community, starting with encouraging its employees to volunteer in their communities, from preparing food for families and individuals in need at the LA Food Bank to dancing with elderly residents of nursing homes in New York City. As for Arianna Huffington (President of Huffington Post) and Tim Armstrong CEO of AOL), the duo is teaching a class at the Urban Academy of Arts and Letters in Brooklyn. They will also donate $50,000 to provide after-school activities for middle-school children in undeserved communities.

Any efforts like this from organizations that are doing well, is a welcome development. Besides, it seems that anywhere we look at now, including recent developments from all over, is a call for all of us to give back.

AOL Purchases Local News Startup ‘Outside.in’

Patch Network

Patch Network

AOL is pushing hard in the news sector, first by purchasing Huffington Post for $315 million and now by adding a new company to their Patch blog network roster, this time a startup called Outside.in.

Backed by the likes of CNN, Milestone Venture Partners, Betaworks and Union Square Ventures, Outside.in is a local news aggregator which will be added to Patch’s network of more than 800 local blogs.

It’s still unclear how AOL will choose to use Outside.in. The company could be used to feed local news to already existing blogs or it could remain as a hyper-local geographically based properly of it’s own. Then again with the number of “talent buys” these days, the move could be viewed as a more strategic means of bringing in top aggregation talent. [Read more…]

The AOL Way Or The Highway? I’ll Take Route 66


AOL made waves a few weeks ago when an internal document titled “The AOL Way” was published and detailed the company’s intended direction for content creation. The gist of the document doesn’t look pretty: Is AOL on a content downward spiral?

BusinessInsider, which obtained the leaked “AOL Way” document breaks down the calamity. Writers are expected to put page views and revenue generation over great content. While great content and high revenue are often synonymous, AOL is taking a different approach and separating the two in the hopes of manufacturing blog posts in the most efficient way possible while expecting results only a New York Times best selling author could deliver.

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Rumor: AOL To Acquire Another Blog Empire? (TechCrunch)


After acquiring Weblogs, Inc. in 2005, AOL is rumored to be seeking to purchase the TechCrunch empire founded by Michael Arrington.

AOL, the New York-based online media company, is on the verge of acquiring TechCrunch, the online blogging network started by former attorney, Michael Arrington. The deal is at a sensitive stage and might fall apart yet, but I don’t think so. Sources familiar with both entities says that the announcement is likely to come onstage at Disrupt, TechCrunch’s flagship conference currently underway in San Francisco. (via GigaOm)

According to Om Malik, Tim Armstrong (AOL’s CEO) is suppose to make an announcement at the end of TechCrunch Disrupt, which unveils innovative startups that (as the name implies) can disrupt the industry as a whole.

There is still no word on what price AOL is offering Arrington for ownership of the TechCrunch empire, but we will update this post as soon if we hear of anything new.

If Om’s sources are correct and TechCrunch is assimilated by the AOL giant, we will probably see TechCrunch powered by BlogSmith instead of WordPress (the former which AOL thus far delcined to release to the public).

With AOL snapping up some of the largest blog networks around, the only question that remains is, “Who’s next?”

AOL Sells Social Network Bebo

Aol Logo

Aol LogoAOL has finally found a buyer to offload Bebo, the social network site they purchased in 2008 for $850 million. The network since that time has been a monumental flop for the company.

AOL has been searching for a Bebo buyer for quite some time now, announcing in April that they would shut down the site if a suitable buyer could not be discovered.

At this time the buyer has not been revealed, what we do know is that the move matches AOL’s recent sell off of poorly performing and poorly managed programs including their ICQ program which was picked up by DST. Unlike Bebo ICQ is at least still popular in certain countries. [Read more…]

Would AOL Powered Blogs Threaten WordPress, Typepad And Squarespace?


Blogsmith (a company AOL purchased many moons ago) is probably known mostly (if not entirely) for powering heavily visited sites like Engadget and AutoBlog (as well as many others).

While rumors surfaced in 2007 about a public launch beyond AOL’s official network (which would open up Blogsmith to the masses), nothing much has emerged regarding Blogsmith which thus far remains a “gated community.”

However with AOL facing financial woes (as they struggle to regain their former glory), we may see AOL  re-enter the blogosphere again later on this year by opening up Blogsmith to the masses (at least for a price). [Read more…]

AOL launches PoliticsDaily.com, a different kind of political website (they say)

AOL is bringing in top-tier political writers to provide in-depth and informed reporting, analysis and opinion of the US political landscape with the launch of PoliticsDaily.com. The site is led by former New York Times Washington correspondent Melinda Henneberger, who serves as Editor in Chief. PoliticsDaily.com dubs itself as different from other political sites by way of focusing on original reporting, regular fact checking of stories, and long-lead reporting and writing in a one-stop-shop for political arguments across the spectrum (the others out there are not fact-checking your stories?).

In addition to Henneberger, PoliticsDaily features:

  • Walter Shapiro, former columnist for USA Today and former Washington bureau chief for Salon;
  • Jill Lawrence, former national political correspondent for USA Today and columnist for the Associated Press;
  • Carl Cannon, previously Washington bureau chief for Reader’s Digest and White House correspondent for the National Journal and the Baltimore Sun;
  • Lynn Sweet, blogger and Washington Bureau Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as a regular guest on MSNBC, CNN and FOX;
  • Patricia Murphy, founder of Citizen Jane Politics, a non-partisan website for women.

AOL Continues to Push Publishing, Establishes New Business Unit

AOL’s past as a dialup company is being pushed to the background yet again, on purpose for sure. This time, the company is launching a separate business unit for its publishing products, called MediaGlow. This is where the 75 properties, many Weblogs Inc. blogs, end up, all according to a New York Times story.

“Instead of having a handful of front doors, we’re creating dozens if not hundreds of front doors that are more relevant to advertisers,” said Bill Wilson, the AOL publishing executive who will be the president of MediaGlow.

Another 30 sites will be launched this year, moving the portfolio for MediaGlow past 100 sites unless they decide to close or sell off any of the brands currently there. Maybe this is necessary, because although AOL can pride itself with an increase in pageviews at 40%, the New York Times article cites JP Morgon who estimates a 18% advertising decline in 2008. Nevertheless, this is yet another great example on how blogs provide a cost-efficient opportunity for publishing companies that want to get going online with minimal hassle.