AOL aspires to be a 1990s publishing powerhouse; arms dealer

Tim Armstrong AOL

Tech nerds and gadget geeks over the age of 35 should have no trouble recalling the company Ziff Davis – a former publishing powerhouse home to such magazines as Computer World, PC Week and Red Herring. Ziff’s glory days were in the 1980s and 1990s and it scaled dizzying heights as its magazines groaned under the strain of advertising. Media observers would weigh issues of say Computer World for sport not unlike putting the September issue of fashion mags on the scales.

In 1995, a majority of Ziff was sold to SoftBank for $2.1 billion. Yet, Ziff’s storyline is familiar to a wide swath of Silicon Valley companies that prospered in the late 90s.  The tech bubble popped and by the late naughts Ziff Davis Media headed to bankruptcy court.

Ziff Davis is apparently on the mind of Tim Armstrong (pictured) . The AOL chairman and CEO invoked the company yesterday during his presentation at the Citigroup Media, Entertainment and Telecom conference.

Here is Armstrong explaining how TechCruch and other assets such as Engadget are material to AOL:

“If you even go back to look at the valuations of a Ziff Davis or companies like that in the tech space, AOL has assets that considerably could be considered the Ziff Davis of the Internet.”

Palm teases Pre with Jimmy Fallon

Call it a case of doing more with less. Or maybe, how Palm advertises a product without, you know, paying for advertising.

Thats what happened last night with a de facto infomercial for Palm’s as-yet unreleased iPhone rival, the Pre, on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show. The five-minute segment between Fallon and Engadget Editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky (and subsequent distribution of the video around the web), is the kind of marketing that Palm — whose market capitalization is easily 1/70th of iPhone maker Apple — probably couldn’t afford as typical commercials.

You have to give some credit to the marketing minds at Palm. For all their missteps — the Folio comes to mind — they have managed to score viral hits that create buzz for their limited line of mobile phones.