Google & AOL – this changes things: Sorry, but this link to a WSJ story in tomorrow’s paper requires a subscription. It goes “inside” the talks between Google and Time-Warner regarding Google making a minority investment in AOL of up to $5 billion. The article claims that Google is now providing $300 million in annual advertising revenue to AOL (presumably through adsense ads appearing on AOL pages). That speaks to my earlier arguments that Google is not a competitor with media companies, rather it is their partner. (And while it is a media company, Google’s business model in its relationship with other media companies is more akin to sales representation than to publishing.) However, if Google does, indeed, make this significant investment in AOL, it crosses the line and becomes a competitor to many of its partners. This will be intriguing to watch. I’m not at all knowledgable in how financial markets view these sorts of things, but it stands to reason that if Google starts tying up its assets in “content” companies like AOL, then its stock should be valued more like that of a traditional media company. Will AOL be a tar baby for Google like it became for Time-Warner — even though it was supposidly AOL that purchased Time-Warner?