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Verizon to buy AOL for $4.4 billion

Telecommunications giant Verizon acquired mass-media company AOL Inc. for $4.4 billion May 12.

The announcement came via Verizon's website. Both companies have a significant footprint in Northern Virginia.

Verizon is one of the largest private employers in the county with significant government contracting operations.

While AOL moved its corporate headquarters out of Dulles in 2007, the company still has major operations here, including its Fish Bowl Labs, a tech incubator and startup accelerator.

AOL, when it moved to Dulles in 1996, spurred a tech boom in Northern Virginia.

According to the “Washington Post,” roughly 50 percent of residents in the U.S. with Internet access in 1997 were getting it through AOL.

For the next decade the company went into a free-fall, had a rough merger with cable company Time Warner and eventually moved its headquarters to New York City.

The $4.4 billion that AOL is selling for is 2.67 percent of the $165 billion the company used to merge with Time Warner 15 years ago.

The acquisition, some are saying, is a way for Verizon to control more digital content, especially streaming video properties.

The agreement also allows Verizon to own the AOL dial-up business, which delivers Internet to customers in more rural areas, according to the New York Times.

It wasn't immediately clear how or if the merger will affect the companies' employees in Northern Virginia.
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