AOL and Starboard: its not about patents

So, Starboard was proven right about the value of AOL’s patent portfolio (see earlier posting). One would assume they would be happy. Yes, and no. Accord to a story in the New York Times (AOL Patent Deal Does Not Appease Starboard liked the deal, but is still not happy. In a letter send to the AOL Board, Starboard says the following:

However, the announced sale of the patents does little to address our serious concerns with the Company’s poor operating performance and substantial losses in the Display business.
. . .
As such, we intend to promptly file preliminary proxy materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the election of directors to the AOL Board at the upcoming 2012 Annual Meeting.

In other words, it isn’t about simply monetizing patents; its about the total bottom line. Patents were one way (of many) for increasing “shareholder value.”
A good point to keep in mind generally. Intangible assets (such as patents) are only as important to the extent to which they enhance the bottom line. After all, the bottom line is still the bottom line.

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