AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) CEO Tim Armstrong has been meeting with top shareholders to push the idea of a sale to Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) sale, according to reports. The scheme allegedly would allow the AOL and Yahoo partnership to stop competing against each other and start dominating digital publishing.
But AOL shareholders shouldn’t be fooled. This is just the latest boondoggle from AOL’s inept CEO Armstrong, a quick-fix meant to prove that he has accomplished something in his tenure in the corner office — or at least provide a smokescreen so he can make a quick getaway.
Yahoo isn’t a target because AOL is trying to grow a business long-term. It’s a target to cover up Tim Armstrong’s mistakes.
Take it right from the words of an inside source, quoted in The New York Times recently:
“As far as Armstrong’s desire for an exit, he doesn’t want to be doing what he is doing 18 months from now. He wants to be out,” said a source familiar with Armstrong’s thinking. “He’s an ambitious sort of guy and AOL is such an afterthought. But he would definitely put his hat in the ring to run a combined Yahoo/AOL.”
Who the heck cares what Armstrong wants? Is AOL his personal plaything, or a publicly traded company with a clear obligation to its shareholders? If he’s such an ambitious fellow, Armstrong should have something to show for his tenure at the company.
Armstrong took over AOL in March 2009, and it has been ugly ever since. The stock was spun off from Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) in 2010 and is off 40% since then while the broader stock market is up by double digits. Armstrong was supposed to be a heavy hitter, snatched away from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) for his online advertising savvy, and AOL had hoped he would breathe new life into the struggling media company.