June 11, 2009, 8:57 PM — AOL has scooped up two companies focused on delivering local information and services, including one that AOL's CEO has invested in.
The acquisitions of Patch and Going, announced on Thursday, are the start of a trend at AOL toward investing in and focusing on local services, the company said.
Patch, based in New York City, provides community-specific news and other information about five towns in New Jersey. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's private investment company, Polar Capital Group, is an investor in Patch.
Patch combines content written for the site by local journalists with items contributed by anyone in the community.
Going, a Boston company, offers users details about concerts and other social events. It's available for 30 cities in the U.S.
AOL did not disclose terms of the deals.
In a statement, Armstrong said that while there's a lot of information about local events and news on the Web, there's no quick and easy way for people to find it. AOL thinks it can build on its MapQuest service to offer local information services that will appeal to its users.
AOL is not alone in trying to cater to users' local needs. Search engines like Google and Microsoft's Bing have tweaked their offerings to display local results when appropriate.
Armstrong, a former Google executive who took over as AOL CEO in March, has been charged with growing the company's online advertising revenue, something AOL failed to do over the past few years at it transitioned away from a business model that was built primarily on providing dial-up Internet access. Earlier this year AOL owner Time Warner said it plans to spin off the unit.