paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

30. AOL

Web content, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #7

Digital Content Revenue

$1,398,900,000 (63% of total)

Digital Snapshot

AOL shut down or converted numerous sites in 2011 but it still has more than 50 brands from to Winamp, with money-losing Patch in between — not counting the variations of The Huffington Post. Sites are a blend of owned and operated; content partnerships from other publishers; and celebrity hook-ups.

Key Move

The key move of 2011 was buying The Huffington Post for $315 million; since then AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has been trying to figure out how to avoid indigestion. Armstrong continues to move the furniture around with a series of re-orgs causing a perpetual reading of the tea leaves as people try to figure out Arianna’s role. Brad Garlinghouse left as president of applications and commerce in late 2011 after that strategy changed yet again. HuffPo continues to expand internationally, usually combined in partnership with a major local media outlet. In the U.S..

Our Methodology

We counted Advertising and Other revenue (ie. not Subscription, which refers to paid ISP access).
Source: SEC: 2011 Annual Return – page 31

— Staci D. Kramer