Suitors, leave your dowries and hope chests at home. During yesterday's Credit Suisse First Boston media conference, Time Warner's
Parsons' comments confirm reports that surfaced earlier this week, indicating that Time Warner is not interested in raising greenbacks by selling a minority stake in AOL.com to either Google
As you can imagine, agreements and disagreements aren't simply limited to the Time Warner boardroom when it comes to the future of the company's online arm. Even Fools can't seem to agree. I think it would be a mistake for Time Warner to partner with anyone other than Google, while Seth Jayson thinks that Microsoft has more to offer for AOL.com.
For those wondering why these new economy juggernauts are hot for Time Warner's Internet business, it's important to disconnect America Online from AOL.com. America Online is the service that continues to lose net subscribers every quarter, while AOL.com continues to grow.
AOL.com is everything from the popular AIM cyberchat platform to Moviefone to MapQuest. In fact, the success of AOL.com may be why many America Online subscribers are bolting, since they can achieve many of the same things that they used to get done on the original dial-up service through a cheaper access provider on the free AOL.com network of sites.
Then again, one also has to consider why Time Warner is looking for a hand here. It's already serving up high-paying Google ads, but one has to wonder whether Time Warner feels that defections at America Online will eventually affect AOL.com usage. That seems unlikely. After all, Yahoo!
The fact that AOL may side with Microsoft, a software veteran, over Google with the more established contextual marketing system in place, seems to emphasize that Time Warner is more concerned about the long-term relevance of AOL.com than the near-term desire to monetize it effectively. That is either noble or idiotic depending on how you look at it.
Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation, so it would be great for the company's investors if Time Warner -- a company that accounted for 12% of Google's gross revenues last year -- threw Mr. Softy a bone that would elevate Microsoft's prestige in interactive advertising. However, Time Warner also happens to be a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. For those investors, let's hope that Time Warner has a plan to grow the value of AOL.com. The company's got enough naysayers riding the company for its inability to maximize shareholder value. That last thing it needs is to not have an appropriate response when asked why it didn't sell AOL.com when it had the chance.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an AOL subscriber since 1992, but he doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.