Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Time Warner Makes It Official: AOL Spinoff Is Coming

tim_armstrong_lgIt’s hard for Time Warner to have been clearer about this, but there’s still a bit of confusion out there about the company’s plans to spin off AOL. Maybe this will clear it up: Time Warner told the SEC today that it intends to spin off AOL.

You can get the link to the company’s 10-Q, filed this morning, over here. But here’s the nugget you want:

“Although the Company’s Board of Directors has not made any decision, the Company currently anticipates that it would initiate a process to spin off one or more parts of the businesses of AOL to Time Warner’s stockholders, in one or a series of transactions. Based on the results of the Company’s review, future market conditions or the availability of more favorable strategic opportunities that may arise before a transaction is completed, the Company may decide to pursue an alternative other than a spin-off with respect to either or both of AOL’s businesses.”

Yup, there’s a to-be-sure caveat there. But this is about as clear as a publicly traded company can get about this stuff. Time Warner (TWX) wants to cleave this thing off and that’s why it brought on Tim Armstrong.

Other good nuggets from the filing: Time Warner intends to buy back the five percent stake that Armstrong’s former employer, Google (GOOG), owns and wrote down earlier this year.

I missed the company’s earnings call this morning, but sounds like there weren’t lots of other details released. But PaidContent’s David Kaplan does have a breakdown of AOL’s (lousy) ad performance on a sector-by-sector basis:

  • Display: Down 17 percent to $158 million
  • Paid Search Down 12 percent to $152 million
  • Third party Down 29 percent to $133 million

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik