AOL Acquires Armstrong’s Patch, Plus Going.com
John Brod, Patch.com
AOL reaffirmed its strong interest in local today, announcing that it is purchasing Patch.com, a 25-person hyperlocal service invested in by new CEO Tim Armstrong when he was still at Google, and Going.com, an events-driven social network and self-serve ticketing platform aimed at 20-somethings.
Patch.com is currently in five suburban New Jersey towns, with three Connecticut towns and an additional New Jersey town launching soon. It expects to be in a dozen communities by the end of the year. The site launched in December 2007.
Going.com is in 30 markets, and launched in September 2006. It is based in Boston.
“Local remains one of the most disaggregated experiences on the Web today — there’s a lot of information out there but simply no way for consumers to find it quickly and easily,” said Armstrong, in a press release. “It’s a space that’s prime for innovation and an area where AOL has a significant audience and a valuable mapping service in MapQuest. Going forward, local will be a core area of focus and investment for AOL. The acquisitions of Patch and Going will help us build out our local network further.”
Patch.com President John Brod, a former IAC executive, said that while the company “enjoyed the levels of success we’ve had over the last four months, AOL will really let us jumpstart the business. We can expand even more aggressively than we have been.
“From our side of the equation, one of the attractions was identifying local assets on the AOL side” to partner with, possibly including MapQuest and Platform-A. Brod adds that AOL may also benefit from Patch.com’s unique assets, especially a self-serve ad platform, which is supplemented by ad reps who handle clusters of sites at once. “We’re evangelizing a do-it-yourself solution,” he says.
Brod also says there has been no direct tie between Patch and Going.com, although he is enthusiastic about its efforts.
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Kara Swisher at AllThingsD says that each company cost AOL under $10 million. Armstrong, in a note to AOL staffers that was published on paidContent, only confirms that he did receive “return on investment” for Patch, which he is taking in AOL stock once the company is spun off. This was apparently done to avoid any sense of a conflict of interest. A separate note on the paidContent site — anonymous — says that Going.com’s investors put $10 million into the company, and had been “shopping” it for nine months.