Remember AOL? That company that reigned supreme back when the Internet dial-up tone screeched in your ear before you could connect with the World Wide Web? AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong has been trying to move AOL from people’s memory banks to the modern world in a big way: he was recently spotted in talks with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer about a potential merger between the two web giants. The merger does make a certain amount of sense from both sides of the table. Armstrong has mentioned how similar the companies are and how smart it would be to combine. AOL has advertising technology Yahoo could make use of, and they have plenty of strong media brands like the Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Engadget that they’d bring with them.
Marissa Mayer isn’t having any of that though. She reportedly thinks the deal with AOL would be, “small, unexciting, uninspiring and backward-looking.” Doesn’t sound promising for Armstrong. Since Mayer took over Yahoo in July 2012, she has been working steadily to revamp the company’s culture and the benefits afforded to employees. She launched a new online program to improve office morale and to quickly hear about and deal with inter-office problems. She has also changed Yahoo’s maternity leave policy to bring it closer in line with other Silicon Valley companies. She even lead Yahoo to procure Tumblr in a $1.1 billion acquisition. Essentially, since her start date Mayer has taken a floundering company, made bold but smart changes and has pushed forward to let the changes speak for themselves. Buying an oldie-but-maybe-still-goodie like AOL may be good publicity for a week, but would essentially be a waste of Yahoo’s time and money. What AOL has, Yahoo can replicate within the confines of their new and improved organizational culture. Sorry Armstrong, time to head back to the drawing board.