Last Thursday, an AOL employee "leaked" the link to a clandestine new video chat project, AV, to TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler, who also happens to be an AOL employee. Executive Jason Shellen emailed out the link to AOL employees, urging them to give it a try and send feedback, and definitely definitely in all caps "DO NOT SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE OUTSIDE AOL!" TechCrunch evidently didn't get the memo and published the link right away. What a fun little field day the tech blogs had with this one.
Siegler himself said of his decision to leak the new product: "Hey, we are not outside of the company so that’s fair right? And since we didn’t technically get the email, I have no problem sharing it." Then she proceeded to write a glowing review pointing out what a "smart move" the decision to build a video chat tool since everybody's doing it. Sid Yadav at VentureBeat agreed and extended a "hat tip and a fist bump" to TechCrunch for their apparently very bold move to publish the internal email. Sam Biddle at Gizmodo finally chimed in today: "I can safely say this is the first time I have used adjectives such as 'pretty,' 'terrific,' 'decent,' 'fun,' or 'extremely convenient' with a piece of AOL software."
It's a little bit funny that the same day Siegler's conspiratorial blog post dropped, the rumor mill started spinning about a major tech company buying Skype. The news was confirmed today with the announcement that the video conferencing company would be acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion in the software giant's biggest acquisition ever. Several people on Microsoft's PR team must be a bit irked to see so many headlines about AOL's slick new competing product on their big day.
AV is actually a pretty slick little video chat tool. It's ease of use will remind you of that other out-of-nowhere tool, but hopefully with fewer unexpected glimpses at genitalia. Here's a fun video about that: