CEO Tim Armstrong discusses AOL's content strategy and its reasons for parting with Bebo.
AOL now has a "specific and precise" strategy for its business, and its staff is "sick of losing," according to the company's CEO, Tim Armstrong. Speaking at Techcrunch's Disrupt conference in NYC this morning, Armstrong said AOL "plans to be the largest high quality content producer for digital media," and dismissed suggestions it was simply building a "content factory."
"We see content as a way to fund our properties and others we partner with," Armstrong said. "We think about how to create the world's best content and have a deep strategy around that area. The world doesn't need more low quality content," he added, following questioning from Techcrunch editor Mike Arrington on the emergence of "content farms" such as Demand Media.
Armstrong said the company was no longer using its own past as a barometer for success, but that its focus is now on "beating the Internet" in terms of its performance versus competitors. "Beat the Internet applies to every corporate side of AOL," Armstrong said.
Regarding Bebo - the struggling social network the company acquired for $850 million and intends to sell or close by the end of the week - Armstrong said no decisions had been made, and that the review process was still underway. He admitted, however, that only engineering staff had been working on the site for the past year, and described it as "a major distraction" when he arrived at the company. "Maybe the company bought it for good reasons, but the execution part of it seemed to fall apart. We had to make a strategic decision and Bebo did not fit into that strategy," he said.
Finally, responding to questioning on whether AOL is simply a "mini Yahoo" Armstrong said if that term refers to his company's "clearly defined" strategy, then he would take it as a compliment. He added, however, that he viewed AOL as "head-to-head competitive" with a lot of big brands in the space. "Call and ask 20 of our customers and I think they'd agree," he said.
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