A year later, AOL is heading in the right direction

After a year of activist investors and departures, Tim Armstrong has turned AOL into a well-tuned machine.

Tim Armstrong (right) has what every CEO wants: a rising stock price. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

I have to hand it to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong: after struggling with a flurry of departures and internal turmoil, he has steadied the ship and the markets have rewarded him as a result.

A year ago, the Internet media giant lost its CTO, its tech lead, its head of sales, TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld, and a slew of technology people in its West Coast office.

Activist investors were calling for a new board or directors, and some were even calling for a new CEO. This launched a three month internal battle that resulted in the , its stock price was rising, it was beating expectations and its major properties. And since then, AOL has proven me right.

On March 2, 2012, shares of AOL were worth $17.67. Today, they're worth $37.48, a whopping 112 percent increase in the last year. Traffic at The Huffington Post hit 45.3 million unique visitors last month according to comScore, up from 39.3 million in February 2012. TechCrunch and even the Patch network have both posted traffic gains (TC had 4.3 million uniques last month, up from 3.1 million a year ago). Engadget is the only laggard, dropping from 5.2 million uniques to 4.2 million.

AOL's stock price has gone north. Screenshot by Ben Parr/CNET

Most importantly, AOL's income and revenue are rising. In Q4 2011, AOL earned $22.8 in profit on $573.7 in revenue. In Q4 2012, those numbers increased to $35.7 million and $599.5 million respectively. And this was despite its dial-up business dropping.

So let's give credit where credit is due -- Armstrong has managed to increase AOL's traffic, grow its revenue, and fend off activist investors. It still has a ways to go in order to compensate for its declining subscription Internet business, but the company is going in the right direction.

About the author

Ben Parr is co-founder of #DominateFund, an early-stage venture capital fund; a CNET commentator; and the former co-editor of Mashable.

 

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