AOL is reportedly looking to sell 800 patents and has hired a firm called Evercore Partners Inc. to assist with the deal, Bloomberg said Friday. Three firms have also tried to take AOL private, including Silver Lake, TPG Capital and Providence Equity Partners, although a deal has not been reached yet.
Evercore told AOL that its patent portfolio could provide about $1 billion in licensing income, Bloomberg explained. The company has struggled to keep subscribers and has seen its revenues slump about 29 percent since it broke ties with Time Warner in 2009. What kind of patents does AOL own exactly? Apparently several very important ones, including “foundation patents for the internet,” AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong said. “It’s beachfront property in East Hampton. It’s basically extremely valuable. We’re not surprised Armstrong is saying such positive things about the patents — he’s trying to license and sell them after all. It’s unclear what the company’s course of action will be in the coming months, but AOL did recently just lay off 40 members of its AOL Instant Messenger Group, a chat client that has struggled following the popularity of Google Talk and other competitors.