“I’ve never talked to Marissa [Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo] about merging AOL and Yahoo,” he said, speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco today. Nor did he deny that it was something that had been discussed with previous CEOs of the embattled Internet search and ad company.
“I have a super amount of respect for Marissa,” Armstrong said. “We’ve been friends for a long time and I think she’s doing a good job.” He says that instead of talking about mergers, they talk about ads and having babies.
In a conversation with TechCrunch’s founder Mike Arrington [who also happened to get sacked by Tim around this time last year… AOL owns TechCrunch], the pair were in sanguine let-bygones-be-bygones mode.
“You have tripled the stock of AOL. How did you do it?” Arrington asked him. Armstrong described AOL’s “three-pronged approach” of improved expectations, focus on product (in ads and media), and “financial engineering” around the $600 million stock buyback after the $1.1 billion patent sale to Microsoft.
AOL has been slowly building itself up again as an independent company post- what Armstrong called “the worst merger” in corporate history (that of AOL with Time Warner).
It also helps that the board is on board with Armstrong’s plans, after a six-month proxy battle last year. He noted that the Huffington Post is in “Superbowl” mode right now with the Republican and Democratic conventions behind it and U.S. elections coming up.