Platform A: In Its First Semester, a Failing Grade

The Wall Street Journal today writes about AOL’s survival strategy and how it revolves around Platform A, the online advertising platform/division that the company hopes will help it recover from the loss of its dial-up business.

AOL has spent nearly a billion dollars to put together Platform A, buying Lightingcast (online video ads provider, for $100 million in 2006), Third Screen Media (mobile ads, for $105 million in 2007), AdTech (ad serving, 2007, price undisclosed), Tacoda (behavioral targeting, for $274 million in 2007), Quigo (contextual targeting, for $347 million in 2007) and Perifilliate (click-per-action marketing, for $125 million in 2008).

But as the WSJ points out, things haven’t been going well for the division. Personally, I would give them a failing grade. In its first six months, Platform A has: Read More about Platform A: In Its First Semester, a Failing Grade

AOL to Cut 2,000 Employees, 20% of Work Force

Kara Swisher got her hands on a memo sent out to AOL (TWX) employees earlier today from CEO Randy Falco. Here is a summary of what it says:

* The focus is advertising and the new venture, Platform-A.
* New web-based properties, including super-hot TMZ.com, are the focus; he calls it the “publishing business.”
* Not giving up on Access business just yet because it “continues to be profitable, providing us cash flow to invest in other areas of the business.”
* They will cut 2,000 employees, roughly 20 percent of their total work force.

Put simply, my vision for AOL is to build the largest and most sophisticated global advertising network while we grow the size and engagement of our worldwide audience.

Clearly a Black Monday out in AOL-land, and since I have a lot of friends who work there, this is not an easy bit of news to report. Still, AOL needs to do some housecleaning in order to streamline its operations. I wonder, though, despite all the talk about being able to compete in the advertising business, if AOL really has what it takes to duke it out with more motivated rivals like Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO) and of course, big daddy Google (GOOG).