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paidContent - AOL's Relegence Drops B2B As Corporate Re-org Nears

This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
Relegence, the real-time news company AOL (NYSE: TWX) acquired for around $50 million in 2006, is shutting down its B2B biz, paidContent has learned. Instead, the focus will be inward and purely on technology, not sales, with AOL using the technology to power its MediaGlow sites. The real-time news and financial info already powers modules on AOL Money & Finance, WalletPop, other verticals and the portal’s front page.

Just last month, Relegence was promoting its products to the financial industry at a trade show; even now, the Relegence site features promos for FinAIM, a corporate product integrating the AIM instant messenger that AOL told me will not launch, and Relegence FirstTrack, which AOL confirms is being discontinued. It’s not clear how many FirstTrack subscribers there are or whether they have been told about the shutdown. In this age of real-time news and info, a service that monitored 10,000-plus sources, integrated them with in-house data and went to the desktop, should have been a good bet.

AOL’s official explanation: “At AOL, were focused on the consumer and delivering great products, and it makes sense for us to leverage Relegences consumer offerings on MediaGlow sites such as AOL Money & Finance and WalletPop, including real-time headlines, news, financial and consumer information. With this focus, we will no longer continue our business-to-business operation, including the FirstTrack client and FinAIM which was not yet rolled out.”

It’s another example of an interesting acquisition that in the long run hasn’t paid off as it might have, but that doesn’t mean it should be perceived as a failure. Relegence was one of the last acquisitions by AOL when it was headed by Jon Miller, picked up weeks before Miller was summarily dismissed and replaced as CEO by Randy Falco. This move comes as new CEO Tim Armstrong finishes his 100-day review of the company and prepares to deliver the results to staff at a July 24 all-hands meeting in Dulles. Being realistic about the financial products’ potential in a dramatically altered financial landscape—and slimming Relegence to its essence to power AOL’s core product—should fit right in.


By Staci D. Kramer
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