Matthew Ingram at GigaOm has a nice profile of Outside.in and interview with CEO Mark Josephson. The piece points out that AOL is planning to spend $50 million to build Patch into a giant local network, and asks whether sites like Outside.in should be worried. First here’s what AOL said in a 10K filing about its plan for Patch:
The Patch acquisition did not significantly affect our consolidated financial results for the year ended December 31, 2009. As part of our plan to expand our local strategic initiatives, we currently anticipate investing up to $50.0 million in Patch during the remainder of 2010.
Should Outside.in be worried?
In the GigaOm article, Josephson correctly points out that “If AOL spends $50 million and brings a lot of attention and advertisers into online hyper-local then we all benefit.” Indeed, the entire segment will win if advertisers wake up to the real potential of local online, which they’re now starting to (almost as an indirect result of mobile).
It will also be really interesting to see how “good” Patch is. The $50 million is undoubtedly for headcount and writing fees to those creating original content. The danger as with Examiner.com is that you get a lot of mediocre stuff. Outside.in’s approach is one of aggregation of existing content, which is both cheaper and more scalable.
Outside.in has received about $14 million in funding. AOL ought to take a hard look at buying Outside.in if it’s really as serious as it claims to be about “hyper-local.”