Now this would have been a very interesting deal to be on the inside of. I can only imagine the back and forth and the stakes being raised. If what the Journal is reporting (Paid reg) is true, somehow Google has outbid/outmanuevered Microsoft. This says a lot about what Google views is important. I can say it in one word: Traffic.
From the brief article:
Time Warner Inc. has entered exclusive talks with Google Inc. over a partnership with AOL, apparently shutting out Microsoft Corp. and other suitors, according to people familiar with the situation.
The news comes following weeks of speculation that AOL would choose to drop Google, its current ad partner, in favor of a deal with Microsoft, which had worked aggressively to try to woo the foundering Time Warner unit away from the Internet search giant.
The contest illustrates how far companies are willing to go to secure a chunk of the quickly expanding market for Internet advertising….
Update: Journal report alleges $1 billion for 5%. That’s a healthy but not crazy $20 billion valuation for AOL. Reuters story.