Weekly Digital News Roundup: May 7 – May 11
Verizon is buying AOL for $4.4 billion
- According to Washington Post, Verizon announced Tuesday morning that it is buying AOL for $4.4 billion in what amounts to a major play by the telecom carrier to crack the online video and advertising markets.
- The acquisition could help Verizon make money from distributing video over the Internet — particularly to mobile devices, which account for a growing share of America’s media consumption. Verizon is already one of the country’s top telecom companies and wireless providers, but those markets are maturing and the company has been seeking other ways to grow.
- The acquisition raises questions about Verizon’s approach to content, and the fate of prominent AOL brands including not only the Huffington Post, but also high-traffic blogs such as Techcrunch and Engadget. As part of the deal, Verizon will also inherit the more than 2 million AOL customers who still subscribe to dial-up service. That audience represents the most profitable (and loyal) segment of AOL’s business.
Uber Poaches PR Chief Whetstone From Google
- According to The Wall Street Journal, Uber just hired another public-relations veteran to help improve its image. Rachel Whetstone, who had led communications and public policy at Google, is leaving to take on a similar role at Uber, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. She plans to start her new role early next month.
- The company has worked to strike a more diplomatic tone over the past year, trying harder to negotiate agreements with local regulators that bring Uber into compliance with existing laws.
- Whetstone could help the effort to soften Uber’s image and improve its relations with regulators. A former political operative in the U.K., she’s helped Google manage antitrust battles with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and, more recently, the European Union during a decade at the search giant.
Facebook debuts Instant Articles with 9 media outlets
- According to The LA Times, Facebook has launched Instant Articles, enabling media outlets to publish their stories directly to the social network. Nine big news publishers, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, have signed on as launch partners. After months of rumors, Facebook began hosting their news articles on its iPhone app on Wednesday.
- Nine big news publishers, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed and National Geographic, have signed on as launch partners. After months of rumors, Facebook began hosting their news articles on its iPhone app on Wednesday.
- Instant Articles also includes a suite of interactive features. Readers can zoom in and explore high-resolution photos by tilting their phones, watch auto-play videos as they scroll through stories, explore interactive maps, listen to audio captions, and like and comment on individual parts of an article. The other launch partners are NBC, the Atlantic, the Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild.