AOL’s Content Strategy Blasted By One Of Its Largest Shareholders
It’s just great PR after great PR for AOL these days. Last week, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington wrote a scathing post about AOL’s approach to TechCrunch, and getting rid of Heather Harde. He basically implied that everything is falling apart because of Arianna Huffington’s ego, though he did say he believes AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will figure everything out and “save the day.”
Arrington’s post was particularly interesting given that AOL is an investor in his Crunchfund.
Now, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that one of AOL’s largest shareholders, Starboard, sent a letter to Armstrong saying that AOL’s efforts to become an ad-supported media company are “destroying shareholder value.”
Business Insider has posted the letter in its entirety, along with this response AOL reportedly issued to Starboard:
Over the last two years AOL has significantly reduced costs, sold non-core assets, made significant investments for our future, and also recently repurchased over 10% of outstanding shares. AOL has a clear strategy and operational plan to provide our consumers and customers with exceptional value, which we believe will lead to the creation of shareholder value. Our Board and management team remain firmly committed to creating value for all shareholders and we will continue to aggressively execute on our strategy in 2012 as we continue the turnaround of AOL.
The Starboard letter was a lot longer. It’s conclusion was:
We strongly believe that AOL is deeply undervalued and that there are opportunities to substantially improve overall operating performance and valuation based on actions whithin the control of management and the Board. AOL’s stock price has underperformed over almost any time period and we believe it is time for the Board to take immediate action to address the significant concerns highlighted in this letter.
As one of AOL’s largest shareholders, our interests are directly aligned with those of shareholders. We would appreciate the opportunity to engage directly withg you and the Board and would request an in-person meeting to discuss our views on how to enhance value for AOL shareholders. We look forward to a constructive dialog as we look to ensure that AOL is run with the best interests of all shareholders as the primary objective.