AOL Buys Startups Patch and Going

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Time Warner ha formalized plans to spin its struggling AOL unit back off into a separate company by the end of 2009, but that doesn’t seem to have put any crimp in AOL’s acquisition-happy business practices: today the company announced it is acquiring Patch and Going, two Web startups that focus on local news and information and local event information.

AOL is looking at the acquisitions as s a way to beef up its local search capabilities, and give users a reason to consider using a big Internet brand like AOL when looking for information or things to do in their own towns and neighborhoods.

“Local remains one of the most disaggregated experiences on the Web today—there’s a lot of information out there but simply no way for consumers to find it quickly and easily,” said AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, in a statement. “Going forward, local will be a core area of focus and investment for AOL.”

Armstrong was an investor in Patch Media before taking over as AOL CEO. No financial details of either acquisition were disclosed.

AOL has a long history of buying up other companies in an effort to expand and bolster its content and online offerings; sometimes those acquisitions work out, and sometimes they don’t. Although it’s most famous acquisition was probably Netscape (and look how well that worked out), AOL recently shut down Xdrive, BlueString in a move to cut costs: both were among the numerous outfits AOL acquired over the years.

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