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Time Warner Exploring AOL Options

AOL is now officially on the table for a deal, after Time Warner CEO Jeffrey L. Bewkes revealed that he was open to combining the beleaguered Web giant with another company in "whatever configuration makes it the strongest and the most valuable." Meanwhile, sources tell The Silicon Alley Insider's (link: http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/3/jeff_bewkes_s_private_hell_twx_) Henry Blodget that Bewkes isn't merely "open" to a deal, but is actively talking to Yahoo and possibly others about making one. We may be nearing the end of Time Warner's AOL hell.

It's an unhappy situation, especially after the abrupt sacking of Curtis G. Viebranz, head of AOL's Platform A advertising division. Platform A is about expanding AOL's ad network business first by integrating its various advertising and technology properties (seven separate entities in all, including Advertising.com, Tacoda and Quigo), but the company claims that Viebranz failed to accomplish this fast enough.

The departure of several executives within these smaller companies (some recently acquired) has also complicated the integration process. Bewkes sounded less than optimistic about AOL's near-term growth. Indeed, AOL remains the Time Warner CEO's biggest problem.

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