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In Praise of AOL

Results steadied as well, in both search and display. The personality battles with Arianna and TechCrunch simmered down and both properties have continued to grow and develop. HuffPo looks like a particularly brilliant deal by Armstrong now several months on.

When the activists actually carried through on their threat to stick with a proxy fight last spring, they ended up with no credible arguments for why shareholders should vote to change AOL management. How could any shareholder complain about Tim Armstrong's leadership?

And AOL's stock? Oh, it just went up to a few pennies shy of $44 a few months ago and -- after the latest good earnings report -- appears heading back to pass that. That's a 340% gain in a year and a half, for those of you keeping score at home.

The most mind-blowing thing about that result is that no one -- as in zero -- has said anything congratulatory to Tim Armstrong. AOL never gets discussed other than the random comment, "Oh, wow... look at AOL... anyway, about Apple...."

For every dollar the stock dropped on its way to $10, you heard people piling on, and then nothing on this remarkable run.

So let me be the first to say, congratulations Tim and the rest of the AOL management team. I was wrong to criticize you folks. Everyone was wrong. All of you deserve to be called out for an outstanding turnaround of this company.

Congrats and continued success.



At the time of publication the author had positions in YHOO and AAPL.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Eric Jackson is founder and Managing Member of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd. In January 2007, Jackson started the world's first Internet-based campaign to increase shareholder value at Yahoo!, leading to a change in CEOs in 2007. He also spoke out in favor of Yahoo!'s accepting Microsoft's buyout offer in 2008. Global Proxy Watch named Jackson as one of its 10 "Stars" who positively influenced international corporate governance and shareowner value in 2007.

Prior to founding Ironfire Capital, Jackson was President and CEO of Jackson Leadership Systems, Inc., a leadership, strategy, and governance consulting firm. He completed his Ph.D. in the Management Department at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York, with a specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Governance, and holds a B.A. from McGill University.

He was previously Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at VoiceGenie Technologies, a software firm now owned by Alcatel-Lucent. In 2004, Jackson founded the Young Patrons' Circle at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, which is now the second-largest social and philanthropic group of its kind in North America, raising $500,000 annually for the museum. You can follow Jackson on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ericjackson or @ericjackson.

You can contact Eric by emailing him at eric.jackson@thestreet.com.

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