by Brian Solis

No, we’re not yet seeing the grand IPOs from Web 1.0, instead, we’re witnessing a series of small investments and moderate acquisitions. To be fair, there are already several examples of seemingly unsubstantiated valuations, which have us all baited and primed for some colossal exits or epic failures.

One of the companies hungry for startups is AOL. On the heels of its recent acquisition of bebo (and the list goes on and on), AOL will officially announce the purchase of Sphere. Note, that the rumor is confirmed on Sphere’s blog.
Sphere provides contextually relevant content tools that make connections between text, video, photos and ads. Sphere is currently integrated into over 60,000 leading sites and is live on over 2 Billion monthly article pages across the web.

According to founder Tony Conrad, “AOL is doing what great, sustainable business do every so often – they’re reinventing themselves. As the business model of the oldest and one of the biggest Internet businesses evolves, Sphere becomes an important piece of their strategy to reach across and engage the web. In the past year, we’ve watched AOL as a partner, move aggressively to build their audience (new services, new web-site that interacts with users, acquisitions in the community space) and their Platform-A advertising business, and they’re making great progress on both fronts.”

I agree. AOL is demonstrating that it is determined to not only survive in Web 2.0, but well beyond. It is definitely showing a pattern of buying and grooming niche brands, which as AOL’s Bill Wilson describes as “passion points,” to serve relevant content to existing, new, and prospective users.

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About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Visit Brian's page at http://www.briansolis.com

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