AOL Shifts from Freelance to Full-Time

Freelancers have been turning out copy for magazines, TV and online sites for many, many years. Some of the copy isn’t the best, but there are plenty of great freelancers out there who know how to craft a great story and can do it from inside the walls of their own home (or the local Starbucks.)

Arianna Huffington doesn’t agree. That’s the rumor, anyway. According to Business Insider, AOL, under the leadership of Huffington, is doing away with freelancers. Not only are they looking to work with only full-time employees, but one source says, those employees are expected to be at their desks at 9:00 am.

Business Insider posted an email that was sent to them from a former freelancer and I found this paragraph particularly interesting.

Conde Nast to Sell Share in Social Site? You Reddit Here First Second

It’s been almost 5 years since social news aggregator Reddit was acquired by Conde Nast.

Since then, the publisher has done its best to let Reddit go the way of a Digg Dodo, but thanks to some fundraising and running a lean team, Reddit has managed to achieve some epic growth–hitting 1 billion pageviews no less!

It appears that Conde Nast is not quite ready to let go of the cash-cow that Reddit could still become and is instead mulling a sale of a stake in the site. According to CNET,

The publisher would continue to own the site, but it’s talking to investors about selling a stake. Sources tell me it is floating a $200 million valuation…The theory: taking Reddit outside of Conde Nast’s corporate structure would make the site that much more valuable, and would give it a better chance to compete for capital, managers, and employees alongside the likes of zippy start-ups like Quora, StackExchange, etc.

Boom or Bubble? Twitter Valued at 100x Revenue!

Hands-up if you’d like to sell your company for 100 times your projected earnings for 2011?

Sorry, it will…take a little…longer to…type this sentence…with just one hand.

On the back of a recent $200 million investment–and a reported $80m secondary market purchase–the Wall Street Journal is reporting that both Google and Facebook are sniffing around Twitter.

Both Google and Facebook have discussed buying Twitter in the past and have kept their lines of communication open, people familiar with the matter said. One of these people said companies including Facebook and Google have expressed “latent interest” in an acquisition.

When it raised the $200m in December, Twitter’s valuation was only $3.7 billion. Now it appears that Google and Facebook are kicking around valuations anywhere between $8 billion and $10 billion.

Rumors Say Linkedin May Be First to IPO

Facebook may get more than its share of buzz, but Linkedin, the social media network with an eye toward business relationships, has been quietly sneaking up on the world. According to the LA Times and a variety of other sources, Linkedin appears to be priming itself for an early 2011 IPO.

Sources say that Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase all took meetings with Linkedin back in November and the timing couldn’t be better. With the financial world all a flutter at the thought of investing in a social media site, Linkedin would be smart to jump in before Facebook steals the spotlight once again.

AOL & Yahoo Plan Merger? Building an “Exclusive” on…Well, Nothing Actually

Sometimes, merger and acquisition rumors are juicy, thrilling, with a sense of mystery.

Other times, they’re a lame duck and you wonder why anyone–let alone Reuters–would waste the time writing the story.

Exhibit A:

Exclusive: AOL mulls breakup, then merger with Yahoo

Ooh, that’s a BIG story, right? AOL, trying to reinvent itself and Yahoo, looking at a boatload of options to survive.

This is a huge story for a Monday in December. Let’s examine the “smoke” to this “fire” shall we?

…The plans are still in the exploratory stage…

Oh, OK. But I am sure the two sides are deep in talks, right?

…and Yahoo has not been contacted, the sources said…

Oh well, I’m sure Reuters has someone reliable that can be quoted here.

Today’s Deal: Google Buys Groupon for $2.5B?

I think someone at Google might have had a little too much spiked apple cider over Thanksgiving, because rumors are heating up that the search giant just acquired online coupon service Groupon for $2.5 billion!

According to VatorNews…

Google has just purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion, according to an unnamed insider who spoke with VatorNews.  Neither Google nor Groupon could be reached for comment to confirm the report, but Vator’s source is reliable and the report falls in line with the recent string of Groupon acquisition rumors.

If that is true, then Groupon might just be a bigger acquisition than the monstrous purchase of YouTube back in 2006. Not only is the purchase price about $1B more, but unlike YouTube at the time, Groupon is said to be raking in as much as $50 million a month!

Grougle? Googlepon? Rumors Anyone?

Well, this will be a nice way to tidy up the week by adding to the rumor mill that has Google actively looking to purchase Groupon. Yup, that’s right. There is some rumor mill fodder to consider but from the heavy hitters like Kara Swisher at AllThingsDigital’s BoomTown as she reports

According to multiple sources close to the situation, Google is in discussions with local deals powerhouse Groupon about buying it.

Without making the requisite joke about the deal of the day, sources said the price being considered is certainly no discount–well above the $2 billion to $3 billion that Yahoo offered Groupon in acquisition talks that took place earlier this year.

But sources cautioned that the talks are not complete, and could also end up without any result, as the Yahoo discussions did.