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For other uses, see AOL (disambiguation). AOL_sentence_0


FormerlyAOL_header_cell_0_0_0 AOL_cell_0_0_1
TypeAOL_header_cell_0_1_0 SubsidiaryAOL_cell_0_1_1
FoundedAOL_header_cell_0_2_0 AOL_cell_0_2_1
FoundersAOL_header_cell_0_3_0 AOL_cell_0_3_1
HeadquartersAOL_header_cell_0_4_0 770 Broadway, New York City, United StatesAOL_cell_0_4_1
Area servedAOL_header_cell_0_5_0 WorldwideAOL_cell_0_5_1
ServicesAOL_header_cell_0_6_0 Web portal and online servicesAOL_cell_0_6_1
Number of employeesAOL_header_cell_0_7_0 5,600AOL_cell_0_7_1
ParentAOL_header_cell_0_8_0 AOL_cell_0_8_1
WebsiteAOL_header_cell_0_9_0 Q27585#P856AOL_cell_0_9_1

AOL (stylized as Aol., formerly a company known as AOL Inc. and originally known as America Online) is an American web portal and online service provider based in New York City. AOL_sentence_1

It is a brand marketed by Verizon Media. AOL_sentence_2

The service traces its history to an online service known as PlayNET. AOL_sentence_3

PlayNET licensed their software to Quantum Link (Q-Link), who went online in November 1985. AOL_sentence_4

A new IBM PC client launched in 1988, eventually renamed as America Online in 1989. AOL_sentence_5

AOL grew to become the largest online service, displacing established players like CompuServe and The Source. AOL_sentence_6

By 1995, AOL had about three million active users. AOL_sentence_7

AOL was one of the early pioneers of the Internet in the mid-1990s, and the most recognized brand on the web in the United States. AOL_sentence_8

It originally provided a dial-up service to millions of Americans, as well as providing a web portal, e-mail, instant messaging and later a web browser following its purchase of Netscape. AOL_sentence_9

In 2001, at the height of its popularity, it purchased the media conglomerate Time Warner in the largest merger in U.S. history. AOL_sentence_10

AOL rapidly declined thereafter, partly due to the decline of dial-up and rise of broadband. AOL_sentence_11

AOL was eventually spun off from Time Warner in 2009, with Tim Armstrong appointed the new CEO. AOL_sentence_12

Under his leadership, the company invested in media brands and advertising technologies. AOL_sentence_13

On June 23, 2015, AOL was acquired by Verizon Communications for $4.4 billion. AOL_sentence_14

History AOL_section_0

1983–1991: Early years AOL_section_1

AOL began in 1983, as a short-lived venture called Control Video Corporation (or CVC), founded by William von Meister. AOL_sentence_15

Its sole product was an online service called GameLine for the Atari 2600 video game console, after von Meister's idea of buying music on demand was rejected by Warner Bros. Subscribers bought a modem from the company for US$49.95 and paid a one-time US$15 setup fee. AOL_sentence_16

GameLine permitted subscribers to temporarily download games and keep track of high scores, at a cost of US$1 per game. AOL_sentence_17

The telephone disconnected and the downloaded game would remain in GameLine's Master Module and playable until the user turned off the console or downloaded another game. AOL_sentence_18

In January 1983, Steve Case was hired as a marketing consultant for Control Video on the recommendation of his brother, investment banker Dan Case. AOL_sentence_19

In May 1983, Jim Kimsey became a manufacturing consultant for Control Video, which was near bankruptcy. AOL_sentence_20

Kimsey was brought in by his West Point friend Frank Caufield, an investor in the company. AOL_sentence_21

In early 1985, von Meister left the company. AOL_sentence_22

On May 24, 1985, Quantum Computer Services, an online services company, was founded by Jim Kimsey from the remnants of Control Video, with Kimsey as chief executive officer, and Marc Seriff as chief technology officer. AOL_sentence_23

The technical team consisted of Marc Seriff, Tom Ralston, Ray Heinrich, Steve Trus, Ken Huntsman, Janet Hunter, Dave Brown, Craig Dykstra, Doug Coward, and Mike Ficco. AOL_sentence_24

In 1987, Case was promoted again to executive vice-president. AOL_sentence_25

Kimsey soon began to groom Case to take over the role of CEO, which he did when Kimsey retired in 1991. AOL_sentence_26

Kimsey changed the company's strategy, and in 1985, launched a dedicated online service for Commodore 64 and 128 computers, originally called Quantum Link ("Q-Link" for short). AOL_sentence_27

The Quantum Link software was based on software licensed from PlayNet, Inc, (founded in 1983 by Howard Goldberg and Dave Panzl). AOL_sentence_28

The service was different from other online services as it used the computing power of the Commodore 64 and the Apple II rather than just a "dumb" terminal. AOL_sentence_29

It passed tokens back and forth and provided a fixed price service tailored for home users. AOL_sentence_30

In May 1988, Quantum and Apple launched AppleLink Personal Edition for Apple II and Macintosh computers. AOL_sentence_31

In August 1988, Quantum launched PC Link, a service for IBM-compatible PCs developed in a joint venture with the Tandy Corporation. AOL_sentence_32

After the company parted ways with Apple in October 1989, Quantum changed the service's name to America Online. AOL_sentence_33

Case promoted and sold AOL as the online service for people unfamiliar with computers, in contrast to CompuServe, which was well established in the technical community. AOL_sentence_34

From the beginning, AOL included online games in its mix of products; many classic and casual games were included in the original PlayNet software system. AOL_sentence_35

In the early years of AOL the company introduced many innovative online interactive titles and games, including: AOL_sentence_36


1991–2006: Internet age, Time Warner merger AOL_section_2

In February 1991, AOL for DOS was launched using a GeoWorks interface followed a year later by AOL for Windows. AOL_sentence_37

This coincided with growth in pay-based online services, like Prodigy, CompuServe, and GEnie. AOL_sentence_38

1991 also saw the introduction of an original Dungeons & Dragons title called Neverwinter Nights from Stormfront Studios; which was one of the first Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games to depict the adventure with graphics instead of text. AOL_sentence_39

During the early 1990s, the average subscription lasted for about 25 months and accounted for $350 in total revenue. AOL_sentence_40

Advertisements invited modem owners to "Try America Online FREE", promising free software and trial membership. AOL_sentence_41

AOL discontinued Q-Link and PC Link in late 1994. AOL_sentence_42

In September 1993, AOL added Usenet access to its features. AOL_sentence_43

This is commonly referred to as the "Eternal September", as Usenet's cycle of new users was previously dominated by smaller numbers of college and university freshmen gaining access in September and taking a few weeks to acclimate. AOL_sentence_44

This also coincided with a new "carpet bombing" marketing campaign by CMO Jan Brandt to distribute as many free trial AOL trial disks as possible through nonconventional distribution partners. AOL_sentence_45

At one point, 50% of the CDs produced worldwide had an AOL logo. AOL_sentence_46

AOL quickly surpassed GEnie, and by the mid-1990s, it passed Prodigy (which for several years allowed AOL advertising) and CompuServe. AOL_sentence_47

Over the next several years, AOL launched services with the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, Pearson, Scholastic, ASCD, NSBA, NCTE, Discovery Networks, Turner Education Services (CNN Newsroom), NPR, The Princeton Review, Stanley Kaplan, Barron's, Highlights for Kids, the U.S. AOL_sentence_48 Department of Education, and many other education providers. AOL_sentence_49

AOL offered the first real-time homework help service (the Teacher Pager—1990; prior to this, AOL provided homework help bulletin boards), the first service by children, for children (Kids Only Online, 1991), the first online service for parents (the Parents Information Network, 1991), the first online courses (1988), the first omnibus service for teachers (the Teachers' Information Network, 1990), the first online exhibit (Library of Congress, 1991), the first parental controls, and many other online education firsts. AOL_sentence_50

AOL purchased search engine WebCrawler in 1995, but sold it to the following year; the deal made Excite the sole search and directory service on AOL. AOL_sentence_51

After the deal closed in March 1997, AOL launched its own branded search engine, based on Excite, called NetFind. AOL_sentence_52

This was renamed to AOL Search in 1999. AOL_sentence_53

AOL charged its users an hourly fee until December 1996, when the company changed to a flat monthly rate of $19.95. AOL_sentence_54

During this time, AOL connections were flooded with users trying to connect, and many canceled their accounts due to constant busy signals. AOL_sentence_55

A commercial was made featuring Steve Case telling people AOL was working day and night to fix the problem. AOL_sentence_56

Within three years, AOL's user base grew to 10 million people. AOL_sentence_57

In 1995 AOL was headquartered at 8619 Westwood Center Drive in the Tysons Corner CDP in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, near the Town of Vienna. AOL_sentence_58

AOL was quickly running out of room in October 1996 for its network at the Fairfax County campus. AOL_sentence_59

In mid-1996, AOL moved to 22000 AOL Way in Dulles, unincorporated Loudoun County, Virginia to provide room for future growth. AOL_sentence_60

In a five-year landmark agreement with the most popular operating system, AOL was bundled with Windows software. AOL_sentence_61

On March 31, 1996, the short-lived eWorld was purchased by AOL. AOL_sentence_62

In 1997, about half of all U.S. homes with Internet access had it through AOL. AOL_sentence_63

During this time, AOL's content channels, under Jason Seiken, including News, Sports, and Entertainment, experienced their greatest growth as AOL become the dominant online service internationally with more than 34 million subscribers. AOL_sentence_64

In November 1998, AOL announced it would acquire Netscape, best known for their web browser, in a major $4.2 billion deal. AOL_sentence_65

The deal closed on March 17, 1999. AOL_sentence_66

Another large acquisition in December 1999 was that of MapQuest, for $1.1 billion. AOL_sentence_67

In January 2000, as new broadband technologies were being rolled out around NYC metropolitan area, and the U.S., AOL and Time Warner announced plans to merge, forming AOL Time Warner, Inc. AOL_sentence_68

The terms of the deal called for AOL shareholders to own 55% of the new, combined company. AOL_sentence_69

The deal closed on January 11, 2001. AOL_sentence_70

The new company was led by executives from AOL, SBI, and Time Warner. AOL_sentence_71

Gerald Levin, who had served as CEO of Time Warner, was CEO of the new company. AOL_sentence_72

Steve Case served as chairman, J. Michael Kelly (from AOL) was the chief financial officer, Robert W. Pittman (from AOL) and Dick Parsons (from Time Warner) served as co-chief operating officers. AOL_sentence_73

In 2002, Jonathan Miller became CEO of AOL. AOL_sentence_74

The following year, AOL Time Warner dropped the "AOL" from its name. AOL_sentence_75

It was the largest merger in history when completed with the combined value of the companies at $360 billion. AOL_sentence_76

This value fell sharply, as low as $120 billion as markets repriced AOL's valuation as a pure internet firm more modestly when combined with the traditional media and cable business. AOL_sentence_77

This state didn't last long, and the company's value rose again within 3 months. AOL_sentence_78

By the end of that year, the tide had turned against "pure" internet companies, with many collapsing under falling stock prices, and even the strongest companies in the field losing up to 75% of their market value. AOL_sentence_79

The decline continued though 2001, but even with the losses, AOL was among the internet giants that continued to outperform brick and mortar companies. AOL_sentence_80

In 2004, along with the launch of AOL 9.0 Optimized, AOL also made available the option of personalized greetings which would enable the user to hear his or her name while accessing basic functions and mail alerts, or while logging in or out. AOL_sentence_81

In 2005, AOL broadcast the Live 8 concert live over the Internet, and thousands of users downloaded clips of the concert over the following months. AOL_sentence_82

In late 2005, AOL released AOL Safety & Security Center, a bundle of McAfee Antivirus, CA anti-spyware, and proprietary firewall and phishing protection software. AOL_sentence_83

News reports in late 2005 identified companies such as Yahoo! AOL_sentence_84 , Microsoft, and Google as candidates for turning AOL into a joint venture. AOL_sentence_85

Those plans were abandoned when it was revealed on December 20, 2005, that Google would purchase a 5% share of AOL for $1 billion. AOL_sentence_86

2006–2009: Rebranding and decline AOL_section_3

On April 3, 2006, AOL announced it was retiring the full name America Online; the official name of the service became AOL, and the full name of the Time Warner subdivision became AOL LLC. AOL_sentence_87

On June 8, 2006, AOL offered a new program called AOL Active Security Monitor, a diagnostic tool which checked the local PC's security status, and recommended additional security software from AOL or AOL_sentence_88

The program rated the computer on a variety of different areas of security and general computer health. AOL_sentence_89

Two months later, AOL released AOL Active Virus Shield. AOL_sentence_90

This software was developed by Kaspersky Lab. AOL_sentence_91

Active Virus Shield software was free and did not require an AOL account, only an internet email address. AOL_sentence_92

The ISP side of AOL UK was bought by Carphone Warehouse in October 2006 to take advantage of their 100,000 LLU customers, making Carphone Warehouse the biggest LLU provider in the UK. AOL_sentence_93

In August 2006, AOL announced they would give away email accounts and software previously available only to its paying customers provided the customer accessed AOL or through a non-AOL-owned access method (otherwise known as "third party transit", "bring your own access", or "BYOA"). AOL_sentence_94

The move was designed to reduce costs associated with the "Walled Garden" business model by reducing usage of AOL-owned access points and shifting members with high-speed internet access from client-based usage to the more lucrative advertising provider, AOL_sentence_95

The change from paid to free was also designed to slow the rate of members canceling their accounts and defecting to Microsoft Hotmail, Yahoo! AOL_sentence_96 , or other free email providers. AOL_sentence_97

The other free services included: AOL_sentence_98


  • AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)AOL_item_1_3
  • AOL Video featured professional content and allowed users to upload videos as well.AOL_item_1_4
  • AOL Local, comprising its CityGuide, Yellow Pages and Local Search services to help users find local information like restaurants, local events, and directory listings.AOL_item_1_5
  • AOL NewsAOL_item_1_6
  • AOL My eAddress, a custom domain name for email addresses. These email accounts could be accessed in a manner similar to other AOL and AIM email accounts.AOL_item_1_7
  • Xdrive, which was a service offered by AOL, allowed users to back up their files over the Internet. It was acquired by AOL on August 4, 2005 and closed on December 31, 2008. It offered a free 5 GB account (free ) to anyone with an AOL screenname. Xdrive also provided remote backup services and 50 GB of storage for a $9.95 per month fee.AOL_item_1_8

Also that month, AOL informed its American customers it would be increasing the price of its dial-up access to US$25.90. AOL_sentence_99

The increase was part of an effort to migrate the service's remaining dial-up users to broadband, as the increased price was the same price they had been charging for monthly DSL access. AOL_sentence_100

However, AOL has since started offering their services for $9.95 a month for unlimited dial-up access. AOL_sentence_101

On November 16, 2006, Randy Falco succeeded Jonathan Miller as CEO. AOL_sentence_102

In December 2006, AOL closed their last remaining call center in the United States, "taking the America out of America Online" according to industry pundits. AOL_sentence_103

Service centers based in India and the Philippines continue to this day to provide customer support and technical assistance to subscribers. AOL_sentence_104

On September 17, 2007, AOL announced it was moving one of its corporate headquarters from Dulles, Virginia, to New York City and combining its various advertising units into a new subsidiary called Platform A. AOL_sentence_105

This action followed several advertising acquisitions, most notably, and highlighted the company's new focus on advertising-driven business models. AOL_sentence_106

AOL management stressed "significant operations" will remain in Dulles, which included the company's access services and modem banks. AOL_sentence_107

In October 2007, AOL announced it would move one of its other headquarters from Loudoun County, Virginia, to New York City; it would continue to operate its Virginia offices. AOL_sentence_108

As part of the impending move to New York and the restructuring of responsibilities at the Dulles headquarters complex after the Reston move, AOL CEO Randy Falco announced on October 15, 2007, plans to lay off 2,000 employees worldwide by the end of 2007, beginning "immediately". AOL_sentence_109

The end result was a near 40% layoff across the board at AOL. AOL_sentence_110

Most compensation packages associated with the October 2007 layoffs included a minimum of 120 days of severance pay, 60 of which were given in lieu of the 60-day advance notice requirement by provisions of the 1988 Federal WARN Act. AOL_sentence_111

By November 2007, AOL's customer base had been reduced to 10.1 million subscribers, just narrowly ahead of Comcast and AT&T Yahoo!. AOL_sentence_112

According to Falco, as of December 2007, the conversion rate of accounts from paid access to free access was over 80%. AOL_sentence_113

On January 3, 2008, AOL announced the closing of one of its three Northern Virginia data centers, Reston Technology Center, and sold it to CRG West. AOL_sentence_114

On February 6, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced Time Warner would split AOL's internet access and advertising businesses in two, with the possibility of later selling the internet access division. AOL_sentence_115

On March 13, 2008, AOL purchased the social networking site Bebo for $850m (£417m). AOL_sentence_116

On July 25, AOL announced it was shedding Xdrive, AOL Pictures, and BlueString to save on costs and focus on its core advertising business. AOL_sentence_117

AOL Pictures was terminated on December 31. AOL_sentence_118

On October 31, AOL Hometown (a web hosting service for the websites of AOL customers) and the AOL Journal blog hosting service were eliminated. AOL_sentence_119

2009–2015: As a digital media company AOL_section_4

On March 12, 2009, Tim Armstrong, formerly with Google, was named chairman and CEO of AOL. AOL_sentence_120

Shortly thereafter, on May 28, Time Warner announced it would spin off AOL as an independent company once Google's shares ceased at the end of the fiscal year. AOL_sentence_121

On November 23, AOL unveiled a sneak preview of a new brand identity which has the wordmark "Aol." AOL_sentence_122

superimposed onto canvases created by commissioned artists. AOL_sentence_123

The new identity, designed by Wolff Olins, was enacted onto all of AOL's services on December 10, the date AOL traded independently for the first time since the Time Warner merger on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AOL. AOL_sentence_124

On April 6, 2010, AOL announced plans to shut down or sell Bebo; on June 16, the property was sold to Criterion Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount, believed to be around $10 million. AOL_sentence_125

In December, AIM eliminated access to AOL chat rooms noting a marked decline of patronage in recent months. AOL_sentence_126

Under Armstrong's leadership, AOL began taking steps in a new business direction, marked by a series of acquisitions. AOL_sentence_127

On June 11, 2009, AOL had already announced the acquisition of Patch Media, a network of community-specific news and information sites which focuses on individual towns and communities. AOL_sentence_128

On September 28, 2010, at the San Francisco TechCrunch Disrupt Conference, AOL signed an agreement to acquire TechCrunch to further its overall strategy of providing premier online content. AOL_sentence_129

On December 12, 2010, AOL acquired, a personal profile and identity platform, four days after that latter's public launch. AOL_sentence_130

On January 31, 2011, AOL announced the acquisition of European video distribution network, goviral. AOL_sentence_131

In March 2011, AOL acquired HuffPost for $315 million. AOL_sentence_132

Shortly after the acquisition was announced, Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington replaced AOL content chief David Eun, assuming the role of president and editor-in-chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. AOL_sentence_133

On March 10, AOL announced it would cut around 900 workers due to the HuffPost acquisition. AOL_sentence_134

On September 14, 2011, AOL formed a strategic ad selling partnership with two of its largest competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft. AOL_sentence_135

According to the new partnership, the three companies would begin selling inventory on each other's sites. AOL_sentence_136

The strategy was designed to help them compete with Google and ad networks. AOL_sentence_137

On February 28, 2012, AOL partnered with PBS to launch MAKERS, a digital documentary series focusing on high-achieving women in male-dominated industries such as war, comedy, space, business, Hollywood and politics. AOL_sentence_138

Subjects for MAKERS episodes have included Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Martha Stewart, Indra Nooyi, Lena Dunham, and Ellen DeGeneres. AOL_sentence_139

On March 15, 2012, AOL announced the acquisition of Hipster, a mobile photo-sharing app for an undisclosed amount. AOL_sentence_140

On April 9, 2012, AOL announced a deal to sell 800 patents to Microsoft for $1.056 billion. AOL_sentence_141

The deal includes a "perpetual" license for AOL to use these patents. AOL_sentence_142

In April, AOL took several steps to expand its ability to generate revenue through online video advertising. AOL_sentence_143

The company announced it would offer gross rating point (GRP) guarantee for online video, mirroring the TV ratings system and guaranteeing audience delivery for online video advertising campaigns bought across its properties. AOL_sentence_144

This announcement came just days before the Digital Content NewFront (DCNF) a two-week event held by AOL, Google, Hulu, Microsoft, Vevo and Yahoo to showcase the participating sites' digital video offerings. AOL_sentence_145

The Digital Content NewFront were conducted in advance of the traditional television upfronts in hopes of diverting more advertising money into the digital space. AOL_sentence_146

On April 24, the company launched the AOL On network, a single website for its video output. AOL_sentence_147

In February 2013, AOL reported its fourth quarter revenue of $599.5 million, its first growth in quarterly revenue in 8 years. AOL_sentence_148

In August 2013, Armstrong announced Patch Media would scale back or sell hundreds of its local news sites. AOL_sentence_149

Not long afterwards, layoffs began, with up to 500 out of 1,100 positions initially impacted. AOL_sentence_150

On January 15, 2014, Patch Media was spun off, with majority ownership being held by Hale Global. AOL_sentence_151

By the end of 2014, AOL controlled 0.74% of the global advertising market, well behind industry leader Google's 31.4%. AOL_sentence_152

On January 23, 2014, AOL acquired Gravity, a software startup that tracked users’ online behavior and tailored ads and content based on their interests, for $83 million. AOL_sentence_153

The deal, which included roughly 40 Gravity employees and their personalization technology, was CEO Tim Armstrong's fourth largest deal since taking over the company in 2009. AOL_sentence_154

Later that year, AOL also acquired Vidible, which developed technology to help websites run video content from other publishers, and help video publishers sell their content to these websites. AOL_sentence_155

The deal, which was announced December 1, 2014, was reportedly worth roughly $50 million. AOL_sentence_156

On July 16, 2014, AOL earned an Emmy nomination for the AOL original series, The Future Starts Here, in the News and Documentary category. AOL_sentence_157

This came days after AOL earned its first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Park Bench with Steve Buscemi in the Outstanding Short Form Variety Series category, which later won the award. AOL_sentence_158

Created and hosted by Tiffany Shlain, the series focused on human's relationship with technology and featured episodes such as The Future of Our Species, Why We Love Robots, and A Case for Optimism. AOL_sentence_159

2015–present: Division of Verizon AOL_section_5

On May 12, 2015, Verizon announced plans to buy AOL for $50 per share in a deal valued at $4.4 billion. AOL_sentence_160

The transaction was completed on June 23. AOL_sentence_161

Armstrong, who continued to lead the firm following regulatory approval, called the deal the logical next step for AOL. AOL_sentence_162

"If you look forward five years, you're going to be in a space where there are going to be massive, global-scale networks, and there's no better partner for us to go forward with than Verizon." AOL_sentence_163

he said. AOL_sentence_164

"It's really not about selling the company today. AOL_sentence_165

It's about setting up for the next five to 10 years." AOL_sentence_166

Analyst David Bank said he thought the deal made sense for Verizon. AOL_sentence_167

The deal will broaden Verizon's advertising sales platforms and increase its video production ability through websites such as HuffPost, TechCrunch, and Engadget. AOL_sentence_168

However, Craig Moffett said it was unlikely the deal would make a big difference to Verizon's bottom line. AOL_sentence_169

AOL had about two million dial-up subscribers at the time of the buyout. AOL_sentence_170

The announcement caused AOL's stock price to rise 17%, while Verizon's stock price dropped slightly. AOL_sentence_171

Shortly before the Verizon purchase, on April 14, 2015, AOL launched ONE by AOL, a digital marketing programmatic platform that unifies buying channels and audience management platforms to track and optimize campaigns over multiple screens. AOL_sentence_172

Later that year, on September 15, AOL expanded the product with ONE by AOL: Creative, which is geared towards creative and media agencies to similarly connect marketing and ad distribution efforts. AOL_sentence_173

On May 8, 2015, AOL reported its first-quarter revenue of $625.1 million, $483.5 million of which came from advertising and related operations, marking a 7% increase from Q1 2014. AOL_sentence_174

Over that year, the AOL Platforms division saw a 21% increase in revenue, but a drop in adjusted OIBDA due to increased investments in the company's video and programmatic platforms. AOL_sentence_175

On June 29, 2015, AOL announced a deal with Microsoft to take over the majority of its digital advertising business. AOL_sentence_176

Under the pact, as many as 1,200 Microsoft employees involved with the business will be transferred to AOL, and the company will take over the sale of display, video, and mobile ads on various Microsoft platforms in nine countries, including Brazil, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. AOL_sentence_177

Additionally, Google Search will be replaced on AOL properties with Bing—which will display advertising sold by Microsoft. AOL_sentence_178

Both advertising deals are subject to affiliate marketing revenue sharing. AOL_sentence_179

On July 22, 2015, AOL received two News and Documentary Emmy nominations, one for MAKERS in the Outstanding Historical Programming category, and the other for True Trans With Laura Jane Grace, which documented the story of Laura Jane Grace, a transgender musician best known as the founder, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of the punk rock band Against Me! AOL_sentence_180 , and her decision to come out publicly and overall transition experience. AOL_sentence_181

On September 3, 2015, AOL agreed to buy Millennial Media for US$238 million. AOL_sentence_182

On October 23, 2015, AOL completed the acquisition. AOL_sentence_183

On October 1, 2015, Go90, a free ad-supported mobile video service aimed at young adult and teen viewers that Verizon owns and AOL oversees and operates launched its content publicly after months of beta testing. AOL_sentence_184

The initial launch line-up included content from Comedy Central, HuffPost, Nerdist News, Univision News, Vice, ESPN and MTV. AOL_sentence_185

On January 25, 2016, AOL expanded its ONE platform by introducing ONE by AOL: Publishers, which combines six previously separate technologies to offer various publisher capabilities such as customizing video players, offering premium ad experience to boost visibility, and generating large video libraries. AOL_sentence_186

The announcement was made in tandem with AOL's acquisition of AlephD, a Paris-based startup focused on publisher analytics of ad price tracking based on historical data. AOL_sentence_187

AOL announced AlephD would be a part of the ONE by AOL: Publishers platform. AOL_sentence_188

On April 20, 2016, AOL acquired virtual reality studio RYOT to bring immersive 360 degree video and VR content to HuffPost's global audience across desktop, mobile, and apps. AOL_sentence_189

In July 2016, Verizon Communications announced its intent to purchase the core internet business of Yahoo!. AOL_sentence_190

Verizon tentatively plans to merge AOL with Yahoo into a new company called "Oath Inc.". AOL_sentence_191

In April 2018, Oath Inc. sold Moviefone to MoviePass Parent Helios and Matheson Analytics. AOL_sentence_192

Products and services AOL_section_6

Content AOL_section_7

Advertising AOL_section_8

AOL has a global portfolio of media brands and advertising services across mobile, desktop, and TV. AOL_sentence_193

Services include brand integration and sponsorships through its in-house branded content arm, Partner Studio by AOL, as well as data and programmatic offerings through ad technology stack, ONE by AOL. AOL_sentence_194

AOL acquired a number of businesses and technologies help to form ONE by AOL. AOL_sentence_195

These acquisitions included AdapTV in 2013 and Convertro, Precision Demand, and Vidible in 2014. AOL_sentence_196

ONE by AOL is further broken down into ONE by AOL for Publishers (formerly Vidible, AOL On Network and Be On for Publishers) and ONE by AOL for Advertisers, each of which have several sub-platforms. AOL_sentence_197

On 10 September 2018, AOL's parent company Oath consolidated Yahoo BrightRoll, One by AOL and Yahoo Gemini to ‘simplify’ adtech service by launching a single advertising proposition dubbed Oath Ad Platforms. AOL_sentence_198

Membership AOL_section_9

AOL offers a range of integrated products and properties including communication tools, mobile apps and services and subscription packages. AOL_sentence_199


  • Dial-up Internet access – According to AOL quarterly earnings report May 8, 2015, 2.1 million people still use AOL's dial-up service.AOL_item_2_9
  • AOL Mail – AOL Mail is AOL's proprietary email client. It is fully integrated with AIM and links to news headlines on AOL content sites.AOL_item_2_10
  • AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) – was AOL's proprietary instant-messaging tool. It was released in 1997. It lost market share to competition in the instant messenger market such as Google Chat, Facebook Messenger, and Skype. It also included a video-chat service, AV by AIM. On December 15, 2017, AOL discontinued AIM.AOL_item_2_11
  • AOL Plans – AOL Plans offers three online safety and assistance tools: ID protection, data security and a general online technical assistance service.AOL_item_2_12

AOL Desktop AOL_section_10


AOL DesktopAOL_table_caption_1
Developer(s)AOL_header_cell_1_0_0 AOLAOL_cell_1_0_1
Initial releaseAOL_header_cell_1_1_0 December 8, 2007; 13 years ago (2007-12-08)AOL_cell_1_1_1
Stable releaseAOL_header_cell_1_2_0 9.8(Windows)

1.7 (macOS)

  / August 10, 2015AOL_cell_1_2_1
Preview releaseAOL_header_cell_1_3_0 11.0.2535
  / January 23, 2020AOL_cell_1_3_1
Written inAOL_header_cell_1_4_0 C++AOL_cell_1_4_1
Operating systemAOL_header_cell_1_5_0 Microsoft Windows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.4.8 or laterAOL_cell_1_5_1
TypeAOL_header_cell_1_6_0 Internet SuiteAOL_cell_1_6_1
LicenseAOL_header_cell_1_7_0 ProprietaryAOL_cell_1_7_1
WebsiteAOL_header_cell_1_8_0 AOL_cell_1_8_1

AOL Desktop is an internet suite produced by AOL from 2007 that integrates a web browser, a media player and an instant messenger client. AOL_sentence_200

Version 10.X was based on AOL OpenRide, it is an upgrade from such. AOL_sentence_201

The macOS version is based on WebKit. AOL_sentence_202

AOL Desktop version 10.X was different from previous AOL browsers and AOL Desktop versions. AOL_sentence_203

Its features are focused on web browsing as well as email. AOL_sentence_204

For instance, one does not have to sign into AOL in order to use it as a regular browser. AOL_sentence_205

In addition, non-AOL email accounts can be accessed through it. AOL_sentence_206

Primary buttons include "MAIL", "IM", and several shortcuts to various web pages. AOL_sentence_207

The first two require users to sign in, but the shortcuts to web pages can be used without authentication. AOL_sentence_208

AOL Desktop version 10.X was late marked as unsupported in favor of supporting the AOL Desktop 9.X versions. AOL_sentence_209

Version 9.8 was released, replacing the Internet Explorer components of the internet browser with CEF (Chromium Embedded Framework) to give users an improved web browsing experience closer to that of Chrome AOL_sentence_210

Version 11 of AOL Desktop, currently in Beta, is a total rewrite but maintains a similar user interface to the previous 9.8.X series of releases. AOL_sentence_211

In 2017, a new paid version called AOL Desktop Gold was released, available for $4.99 per month after trial. AOL_sentence_212

It replaced the previous free version. AOL_sentence_213

Criticism AOL_section_11

In its earlier incarnation as a "walled garden" community and service provider, AOL received criticism for its community policies, terms of service, and customer service. AOL_sentence_214

Prior to 2006, AOL was known for its direct mailing of CD-ROMs and 3.5-inch floppy disks containing its software. AOL_sentence_215

The disks were distributed in large numbers; at one point, half of the CDs manufactured worldwide had AOL logos on them. AOL_sentence_216

The marketing tactic was criticized for its environmental cost, and AOL CDs were recognized as PC World's most annoying tech product. AOL_sentence_217

Community leaders AOL_section_12

AOL used a system of volunteers to moderate its chat rooms, forums and user communities. AOL_sentence_218

The program dated back to AOL's early days, when it charged by the hour for access and one of its highest billing services was chat. AOL_sentence_219

AOL provided free access to community leaders in exchange for moderating the chat rooms, and this effectively made chat very cheap to operate, and more lucrative than AOL's other services of the era. AOL_sentence_220

There were 33,000 community leaders in 1996. AOL_sentence_221

All community leaders received hours of training and underwent a probationary period. AOL_sentence_222

While most community leaders moderated chat rooms, some ran AOL communities and controlled their layout and design, with as much as 90% of AOL's content being created or overseen by community managers until 1996. AOL_sentence_223

By 1996, ISPs were beginning to charge flat rates for unlimited access, which they could do at a profit because they only provided internet access. AOL_sentence_224

Even though AOL would lose money with such a pricing scheme, it was forced by market conditions to offer unlimited access in October 1996. AOL_sentence_225

In order to return to profitability, AOL rapidly shifted its focus from content creation to advertising, resulting in less of a need to carefully moderate every forum and chat room to keep users willing to pay by the minute to remain connected. AOL_sentence_226

After unlimited access, AOL considered scrapping the program entirely, but continued it with a reduced number of community leaders, with scaled-back roles in creating content. AOL_sentence_227

Although community leaders continued to receive free access, after 1996 they were motivated more by the prestige of the position and the access to moderator tools and restricted areas within AOL. AOL_sentence_228

By 1999, there were over 15,000 volunteers in the program. AOL_sentence_229

In May 1999, two former volunteers filed a class-action lawsuit alleging AOL violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by treating volunteers like employees. AOL_sentence_230

Volunteers had to apply for the position, commit to working for at least three to four hours a week, fill out timecards and sign a non-disclosure agreement. AOL_sentence_231

On July 22, AOL ended its youth corps, which consisted of 350 underage community leaders. AOL_sentence_232

At this time, the United States Department of Labor began an investigation into the program, but it came to no conclusions about AOL's practices. AOL_sentence_233

AOL ended its community leader program on June 8, 2005. AOL_sentence_234

The class action lawsuit dragged on for years, even after AOL ended the program and AOL declined as a major internet company. AOL_sentence_235

In 2010, AOL finally agreed to settle the lawsuit for $15 million. AOL_sentence_236

The community leader program was found to be an example of co-production in a 2009 article in International Journal of Cultural Studies. AOL_sentence_237

Billing disputes AOL_section_13

AOL has faced a number of lawsuits over claims that it has been slow to stop billing customers after their accounts have been canceled, either by the company or the user. AOL_sentence_238

In addition, AOL changed its method of calculating used minutes in response to a class action lawsuit. AOL_sentence_239

Previously, AOL would add 15 seconds to the time a user was connected to the service and round up to the next whole minute (thus, a person who used the service for 12 minutes and 46 seconds would be charged for 14 minutes). AOL_sentence_240

AOL claimed this was to account for sign on/sign off time, but because this practice was not made known to its customers, the plaintiffs won (some also pointed out that signing on and off did not always take 15 seconds, especially when connecting via another ISP). AOL_sentence_241

AOL disclosed its connection-time calculation methods to all of its customers and credited them with extra free hours. AOL_sentence_242

In addition, the AOL software would notify the user of exactly how long they were connected and how many minutes they were being charged. AOL_sentence_243

AOL was sued by the Ohio Attorney General in October 2003 for improper billing practices. AOL_sentence_244

The case was settled on June 8, 2005. AOL_sentence_245

AOL agreed to resolve any consumer complaints filed with the Ohio AG's office. AOL_sentence_246

In December 2006, AOL agreed to provide restitution to Florida consumers to settle the case filed against them by the Florida Attorney General. AOL_sentence_247

Account cancellation AOL_section_14

Many customers complained that AOL personnel ignored their demands to cancel service and stop billing. AOL_sentence_248

In response to approximately 300 consumer complaints, the New York Attorney General's office began an inquiry of AOL's customer service policies. AOL_sentence_249

The investigation revealed that the company had an elaborate scheme for rewarding employees who purported to retain or "save" subscribers who had called to cancel their Internet service. AOL_sentence_250

In many instances, such retention was done against subscribers' wishes, or without their consent. AOL_sentence_251

Under the scheme, customer service personnel received bonuses worth tens of thousands of dollars if they could successfully dissuade or "save" half of the people who called to cancel service. AOL_sentence_252

For several years, AOL had instituted minimum retention or "save" percentages, which consumer representatives were expected to meet. AOL_sentence_253

These bonuses, and the minimum "save" rates accompanying them, had the effect of employees not honoring cancellations, or otherwise making cancellation unduly difficult for consumers. AOL_sentence_254

On August 24, 2005, America Online agreed to pay $1.25 million to the state of New York and reformed its customer service procedures. AOL_sentence_255

Under the agreement, AOL would no longer require its customer service representatives to meet a minimum quota for customer retention in order to receive a bonus. AOL_sentence_256

However the agreement only covered people in the state of New York. AOL_sentence_257

On June 13, 2006, Vincent Ferrari documented his account cancellation phone call in a blog post, stating he had switched to broadband years earlier. AOL_sentence_258

In the recorded phone call, the AOL representative refused to cancel the account unless the 30-year-old Ferrari explained why AOL hours were still being recorded on it. AOL_sentence_259

Ferrari insisted that AOL software was not even installed on the computer. AOL_sentence_260

When Ferrari demanded that the account be canceled regardless, the AOL representative asked to speak with Ferrari's father, for whom the account had been set up. AOL_sentence_261

The conversation was aired on CNBC. AOL_sentence_262

When CNBC reporters tried to have an account on AOL cancelled, they were hung up on immediately and it ultimately took more than 45 minutes to cancel the account. AOL_sentence_263

On July 19, 2006, AOL's entire retention manual was released on the Internet. AOL_sentence_264

On August 3, 2006, Time Warner announced that the company would be dissolving AOL's retention centers due to its profits hinging on $1 billion in cost cuts. AOL_sentence_265

The company estimated that it would lose more than six million subscribers over the following year. AOL_sentence_266

Direct marketing of disks AOL_section_15

Prior to 2006, AOL was infamous for the unsolicited mass direct mail of 3½" floppy disks and CD-ROMs containing their software. AOL_sentence_267

They were the most frequent user of this marketing tactic, and received criticism for the environmental cost of the campaign. AOL_sentence_268

According to PC World, in the 1990s "you couldn't open a magazine (PC World included) or your mailbox without an AOL disk falling out of it". AOL_sentence_269

The mass distribution of these disks was seen as wasteful by the public and led to protest groups. AOL_sentence_270

One such was No More AOL CDs, a web-based effort by two IT workers to collect one million disks with the intent to return the disks to AOL. AOL_sentence_271

The website was started in August 2001, and an estimated 410,176 CDs were collected by August 2007 when the project was shut down. AOL_sentence_272

Software AOL_section_16

In 2000, AOL was served with an $8 billion lawsuit alleging that its AOL 5.0 software caused significant difficulties for users attempting to use third-party Internet service providers. AOL_sentence_273

The lawsuit sought damages of up to $1000 for each user that had downloaded the software cited at the time of the lawsuit. AOL_sentence_274

AOL later agreed to a settlement of $15 million, without admission of wrongdoing. AOL_sentence_275

The AOL software then was given a feature called AOL Dialer, or AOL Connect on Mac OS X. AOL_sentence_276

This feature allowed users to connect to the ISP without running the full interface. AOL_sentence_277

This allowed users to use only the applications they wish to use, especially if they do not favor the AOL Browser. AOL_sentence_278

AOL 9.0 was once identified by Stopbadware as being under investigation for installing additional software without disclosure, and modifying browser preferences, toolbars, and icons. AOL_sentence_279

However, as of the release of AOL 9.0 VR (Vista Ready) on January 26, 2007, it was no longer considered badware due to changes AOL made in the software. AOL_sentence_280

Usenet newsgroups AOL_section_17

When AOL gave clients access to Usenet in 1993, they hid at least one newsgroup in standard list view: AOL_sentence_281

AOL did list the newsgroup in the alternative description view, but changed the description to "Flames and complaints about America Online". AOL_sentence_282

With AOL clients swarming Usenet newsgroups, the old, existing user base started to develop a strong distaste for both AOL and its clients, referring to the new state of affairs as Eternal September. AOL_sentence_283

AOL discontinued access to Usenet on June 25, 2005. AOL_sentence_284

No official details were provided as to the cause of decommissioning Usenet access, except providing users the suggestion to access Usenet services from a third-party, Google Groups. AOL_sentence_285

AOL then provided community-based message boards in lieu of Usenet. AOL_sentence_286

Terms of Service (TOS) AOL_section_18

AOL has a detailed set of guidelines and expectations for users on their service, known as the Terms of Service (TOS, also known as Conditions of Service, or COS in the UK). AOL_sentence_287

It is separated into three different sections: Member Agreement, Community Guidelines and Privacy Policy. AOL_sentence_288

All three agreements are presented to users at time of registration and digital acceptance is achieved when they access the AOL service. AOL_sentence_289

During the period when volunteer chat room hosts and board monitors were used, chat room hosts were given a brief online training session and test on Terms of Service violations. AOL_sentence_290

There have been many complaints over rules that govern an AOL user's conduct. AOL_sentence_291

Some users disagree with the TOS, citing the guidelines are too strict to follow coupled with the fact the TOS may change without users being made aware. AOL_sentence_292

A considerable cause for this was likely due to alleged censorship of user-generated content during the earlier years of growth for AOL. AOL_sentence_293

Certified email AOL_section_19

In early 2005, AOL stated its intention to implement a certified email system called Goodmail, which will allow companies to send email to users with whom they have pre-existing business relationships, with a visual indication that the email is from a trusted source and without the risk that the email messages might be blocked or stripped by spam filters. AOL_sentence_294

This decision drew fire from MoveOn, which characterized the program as an "email tax", and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which characterized it as a shakedown of non-profits. AOL_sentence_295

A website called was launched, with an online petition and a blog that garnered hundreds of signatures from people and organizations expressing their opposition to AOL's use of Goodmail. AOL_sentence_296

Esther Dyson defended the move in an editorial in The New York Times, saying "I hope Goodmail succeeds, and that it has lots of competition. AOL_sentence_297

I also think it and its competitors will eventually transform into services that more directly serve the interests of mail recipients. AOL_sentence_298

Instead of the fees going to Goodmail and AOL, they will also be shared with the individual recipients." AOL_sentence_299

Tim Lee of the Technology Liberation Front posted an article that questioned the Electronic Frontier Foundation's adopting a confrontational posture when dealing with private companies. AOL_sentence_300

Lee's article cited a series of discussions on Declan McCullagh's Politechbot mailing list on this subject between the EFF's Danny O'Brien and antispammer Suresh Ramasubramanian, who has also compared the EFF's tactics in opposing Goodmail to tactics used by Republican political strategist Karl Rove. AOL_sentence_301

SpamAssassin developer Justin Mason posted some criticism of the EFF's and Moveon's "going overboard" in their opposition to the scheme. AOL_sentence_302

The campaign lost momentum and disappeared, with the last post to the now defunct blog—"AOL starts the shakedown" being made on May 9, 2006. AOL_sentence_303

Comcast, who also used the service, announced on its website that Goodmail had ceased operations and as of February 4, 2011, they no longer used the service. AOL_sentence_304

Search data AOL_section_20

Main article: AOL search data scandal AOL_sentence_305

On August 4, 2006, AOL released a compressed text file on one of its websites containing 20 million search keywords for over 650,000 users over a 3-month period between March 1, 2006 and May 31, intended for research purposes. AOL_sentence_306

AOL pulled the file from public access by August 7, but not before its wide distribution on the Internet by others. AOL_sentence_307

Derivative research, titled A Picture of Search was published by authors Pass, Chowdhury and Torgeson for The First International Conference on Scalable Information Systems. AOL_sentence_308

The data were used by websites such as AOLstalker for entertainment purposes, where users of AOLstalker are encouraged to judge AOL clients based on the humorousness of personal details revealed by search behavior. AOL_sentence_309

User list exposure AOL_section_21

In 2003, Jason Smathers, an AOL employee, was convicted of stealing America Online's 92 million screen names and selling them to a known spammer. AOL_sentence_310

Smathers pled guilty to conspiracy charges in 2005. AOL_sentence_311

Smathers pled guilty to violations of the US CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. AOL_sentence_312

He was sentenced in August 2005 to 15 months in prison; the sentencing judge also recommended Smathers be forced to pay $84,000 in restitution, triple the $28,000 that he sold the addresses for. AOL_sentence_313

AOL's Computer Checkup "scareware" AOL_section_22

On February 27, 2012, a class action lawsuit was filed against, Inc. and partner AOL, Inc. The lawsuit alleged and AOL's Computer Checkup "scareware" (which uses software developed by misrepresented that their software programs would identify and resolve a host of technical problems with computers, offered to perform a free “scan,” which often found problems with users' computers. AOL_sentence_314

The companies then offered to sell software—for which AOL allegedly charged $4.99 a month and $29—to remedy those problems. AOL_sentence_315

Both AOL, Inc. and, Inc. settled on May 30, 2013, for $8.5 million. AOL_sentence_316

This included $25.00 to each valid class member and $100,000 each to Consumer Watchdog and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. AOL_sentence_317

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley wrote: “Distributing a portion of the [funds] to Consumer Watchdog will meet the interests of the silent class members because the organization will use the funds to help protect consumers across the nation from being subject to the types of fraudulent and misleading conduct that is alleged here,” and “EFF’s mission includes a strong consumer protection component, especially in regards to online protection.” AOL_sentence_318

AOL continues to market Computer Checkup. AOL_sentence_319

It is not clear if this latest Computer Checkup continues to use scareware techniques. AOL_sentence_320

NSA Prism program AOL_section_23

Following media reports about PRISM, NSA's massive electronic surveillance program, in June 2013, several technology companies were identified as participants, including AOL. AOL_sentence_321

According to leaks of said program, AOL joined the PRISM program in 2011. AOL_sentence_322

Hosting of user profiles changed, then discontinued AOL_section_24

At one time, most AOL users had an online "profile" hosted by the AOL Hometown service. AOL_sentence_323

When AOL Hometown was discontinued, users had to create a new profile on Bebo. AOL_sentence_324

This was an unsuccessful attempt to create a social network that would compete with Facebook. AOL_sentence_325

When the value of Bebo decreased to a tiny fraction of the $850 million AOL paid for it, users were forced to recreate their profiles yet again, on a new service called AOL Lifestream. AOL_sentence_326

AOL took the decision to shut down Lifestream on February 24, 2017, and gave users one month's notice to save off photos and videos that had been uploaded to Lifestream. AOL_sentence_327

Following the shutdown, AOL no longer provides any option for hosting user profiles. AOL_sentence_328

During the Hometown/Bebo/Lifestream era, another user's profile could be displayed by clicking the "Buddy Info" button in the AOL Desktop software. AOL_sentence_329

After the shutdown of Lifestream, clicking "Buddy Info" does something that provides no information whatsoever about the selected buddy: it causes the AIM home page ( to be displayed. AOL_sentence_330

See also AOL_section_25

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: