It's baaaack! Well, it never quite went away. But for some time now AOL has been treating its own name like the crazy aunt in the attic; better tucked away and not discussed except at family reunions involving alcohol.
It appears AOL's new CEO, Tim Armstrong, is the nostalgic type.
In his first 100 days in office, he has:
- divided up the "people's network" group into three divisions: AOL Local and Mapping, AOL Communication and AOL Ventures.
- renamed it's publishing ventures from MediaGlow to AOL Media.
- also renamed it's advertising arm from Platform-A to, you guessed it, AOL Advertising.
For some time, AOL has gone through a self-loathing period with its name; fearing associations with the most notorious and lampooned corporate mega-merger from the tech bubble days. I am, of course, referring to the AOL Time Warner merger (in the spirit of full disclosure, I worked for a Time Warner company during that merger). There's also some wincing every time someone does a free association with the term AOL and comes up with the companion term "dial-up".
I think Armstrong is taking a forward-thinking approach letting go of the past. The truth is AOL was one of the first Internet brands to become a household word. "You've Got Mail" was a movie for crying out loud. People are still watching Meg Ryan cry in her pajamas on late night cable (likely a Time Warner cable system) with a laptop in her bed tapping out AOL instant messages to Tom Hanks.
As we say in Texas, you gotta dance with the one who brung ya. For many of us, AOL was our first prom with the Internet. No hard feelings about all that other stuff. Dial-ups and dizzy mergers? We look back on that and snicker like we do at pictures of our old hairstyles and shoulder pads from the 80's.
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