America Online, in a move to become a major nationwide Internet service provider, has gone on an acquisition rampage. In one week, AOL added to its expanding Internet portfolio by acquiring Global Network Navigator (GNN), an Internet publisher and directory, from O’Reilly & Associates; Medior Inc., a developer of interactive multimedia content; WAIS, Inc., maker of World-Wide Web publishing and search tools; and Webcrawler, a World-Wide Web keyword search system.
A few months ago AOL bought American Network Systems, an Internet access provider, and BookLink Technologies, maker of the InterWorks Web browser and toolset. In its recent spree, AOL spent $31 million for Medior, $15 million for WAIS, $11 million for GNN, and an unspecified amount for WebCrawler.
AOL said it would begin offering stand-alone Internet services on August 24, with GNN’s site and directories as the core of the service. “We are trying to provide a turnkey solution to getting on the Net,” said Pam McGraw, an AOL spokesperson.
AOL president and CEO Steve Case said that “people who just want Internet access, or prefer paying separately for services they use, will likely opt for our new GNN brand.”
WAIS servers are among the major Internet publishing applications and search engines. Brewster Kahle, president of WAIS Inc., said his company’s role would be to “help America Online adopt the Internet strategy as a new direction.”
Tim O’Reilly, president of O’Reilly & Associates, said he agreed to the sale of GNN because “AOL shares our enthusiasm for the truly new possibilities represented by the Internet.” GNN founder Dale Dougherty said acquisition by AOL would enable the service to scale up, grow in new directions, and allocate more resources to GNN and to the development of “The Whole Intemet Catalog.” He added that the service would remain free to Internet users.
San Mateo, Calif.-based Medior develops entertainment, publishing, education and electronic commerce products. AOL said Medior will play a key role in shaping the look and feel of its offerings and in providing multimedia publishing solutions.
WebCrawler was developed by Brian Pinkerton, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington. The WebCrawler search engine will now reside at http://webcrawler.com.
AOL’s NaviSoft division, maker of the NaviSoft Web authoring tool, announced that it would sponsor the Electronic Newsstand, a magazine rack on GNN available at htfp://Enews.com.
Prodigy director of communications Brian Ek said Prodigy also would offer stand-alone Internet access by the end of the summer.