Perception is Reality. So what’s your perception of AOL selling a big chunk of its patent portfolio to Microsoft?
Reality: whichever side you hear things from, it doesn’t really matter whether AOL made a good deal here or a bad one.
I wasn’t even planning to talk about this deal; deals get made every day, and the story is always that you hope both sides understood the business change they were after and got the desired results. But after seeing one report of AOL extracting over a billion dollars from Microsoft after another this morning, I came across this account of the deal at Gizmodo. In it, Gizmodo characterized AOL’s move as desperate, all but sounding a death knell for everyone’s favorite Internet training wheels of the 1990s.
I guess Gizmodo has some sort of ax to grind. Or maybe it’s time we acknowledged that the vindictive blog is itself on the way to obscurity and stopped reading Gizmodo. Nobody else seems to think the AOL/Microsoft/Patents deals is a bad move for AOL, and as Gizmodo acknowledges that AOL received not only a boatload of cash but also that AOL received a perpetual license to use the things covered by the patents as part of the deal it’s hard to see where this is a mistake on AOL’s part.
Seriously: The Wall Street Journal reported. So did NPR, C|Net, Forbes, and Yahoo! News. Nobody thought AOL had made a mistake. I’m as vocal a critic of AOL and Tim Armstrong as anyone, and even I want to tell you this is a great deal for AOL. I still think AOL has serious problems long-term, but do something smart with that $1 billion and smile about monetizing your patent portfolio without spending time and money in court and this deal is a no-brainer.
While I still see large problems with much of AOL’s strategy, and still believe that AOL Division Huffington Post can’t be trusted as the journalistic source they see themselves as, selling AOL’s patents was a great move, executed under great terms. That’s my perception, and it’s hard to see another reality.