Verizon adds AOL to its Buddy List

AOL (AOL) is a popular news item for the first time since Britney and JT broke up. This week, Verizon (VZ) announced it’s buying AOL for $4.4 billion. Verizon’s motivation for the acquisition is to gain strength in ads and mobile video.

While the AOL website itself doesn’t have much presence, AOL owns popular sites like The Huffington Post and TechCrunch. AOL takes up about 2% of all digital ad revenue – making it the first largest company in the space. AOL has also been successful developing technology for other companies to bid on ads.

Anyone else think the push for mobile video might be partially in response to growing competition for Verizon’s Fios TV division? Perhaps from a competitor whose name rhymes with Shmetflix?

Fun fact #1: The code name for the acquisition was “Project Hanks.” It was a nice throwback to the awesome, AOL focused movie, You’ve Got Mail.

Fun fact #2: When You’ve Got Mail came out in 1998, AOL’s market cap was $63 billion. Today it’s down to $4 billion.

Christie’s + Picasso = $1 Billion

Forget Netflix and Facebook; today’s major earnings report was that of the auction house Christie’s. This week they became the first auction house to sell more than $1 billion of art in a week (technically, they did it in three days. Show offs). The notable piece of the week was a Picasso painting that sold for $179.3 million (including the commission charges the buyer pays) – a new record for a piece of art sold at auction.

Honestly, art isn’t a bad investment. You just need a staggering amount of cash on hand to invest. A lot of the pieces sold this week were sold at a significant premium to their last purchase amounts. For example, the seller of the Picasso bought the piece for $31.9 million in 1997 – what a “steal!”

The work was actually only valued at $140 million, with the huge premium an indication of how spend-happy the world’s richest people have become. The New York Times actually published an interesting read on what these auctions reflect about today’s wealth inequalities.

Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955.
The $179.3M painting: Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’), 1955


Netflix hits the Jack-pot

Netflix (NFLX) soared over $600 for the first time today, just a month after it passed the $500 mark. The stock price jumped after news that Netflix is in partnership talks with Jack Ma, Alibaba’s (BABA) founder. Investors think this may be the key for Netflix to expand into the elusive, but profitable, Chinese market.

All I’m saying is, I’m glad I went with the “don’t short the stock” advice back in December.

Interesting read of the week:

These Brokers Will Get Your Favorite Celebs to Hang Out With You—for a Fee


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