AOL axes weak properties, halts blogs in budget emergency

A July 14 email from AOL Executive Vice President of Products and Marketing Kevin Conroy was uncovered by TechCrunch this week announcing the eventual termination of AOL Pictures, Xdrive, Bluestring, and MyMobile. Many in AOL's Blog network also report being put on hiatus as a result of budget overages.

News of AOL's recent budgeting efforts range from the equable and calculated to the panicked and slapdash. Kevin Conroy's internal email represents the logical approach being taken by AOL. At this point, Conroy says, "every product makes a direct impact on the bottom line."That is to say, AOL can no longer afford to carry the burden of products that don't "effectively contribute to the financial health of [the] company."

Photo sharing site AOL Pictures, multimedia slideshow service Bluestring, and online storage service Xdrive "haven't gained sufficient traction in the marketplace or the monetization levels necessary to offset the high cost of their operation."

Conroy states that these same services are being utilized, but in a social context, such as through AOL's Bebo.

These services, as well as the beta of MyMobile, a suite of AOL services designed for mobile phones, will enter their "sunset phase."

On the other side of the coin are AOL's bloggers, who
received a last-minute memo
from their programming manager announcing an emergency budgeting effort, saying "we must halt any new posting on the blogs through next Thurday, July 31."

The memo does not say which blogs are affected, but similar memos were sent to financial and gaming blog sites. AOL hosts over 25 sites in its blog network.

The blog DIY Life has been put on indefinite hiatus beginning August 1, and all others are expected to return to posting in a week, as the message says "continuing as usual (though maybe a little restrained)."

Tracy Coenen, blogger on Walletpop and BloggingStocks displayed concern for her fellow AOL bloggers, saying "Other bloggers write for AOL as their primary source of income. I don't think they have the option of not paying rent or not eating because of poor planning and poor execution of emergency budget measures at AOL."

The memo addresses and apologizes for "the unintended shortfall of income," but goes on to say that a return to normal is the goal as the company re-aligns with its original budget estimates.

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