Blog Post

AOL Sells Research Unit DMS Insights To uSamp

AOL (NYSE: AOL) finally has unloaded Bebo — and the company is not done cleaning its house of properties that don’t fit. This latest: today’s sale of one of its oldest and least-known holdings, DMS Insights, to United Sample, the operator of online market researcher uSamp. The deal is estimated to be around $3- or $4 million.

Dallas-based DMS began working with AOL back in 1996 and was acquired soon after. It was used as a lead-gen tool and used to offer incentives to web surfers to participate in online surveys on behalf of marketers. For much of the past decade, however, the relationship between AOL and DMS has been fairly non-existent. DMS doesn’t even list itself as an AOL division on its website and several AOL staffers I spoke to say they never even heard of the company.

It wasn’t clear how long DMS has been on the market. Last year, as part of CEO Tim Armstrong’s plan to streamline the company’s operations in advance of the spin-off from Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), the company created AOL Ventures to house companies that didn’t necessarily fit into the new regime. AOL Ventures’ primary mission is to either reform companies into something that might work within the new AOL structure or if a solution can’t be devised, to find a buyer to take the property off AOL’s hands.

United Sample’s acquisition of DMS comes two days after it announced (pdf) that it had completed a $10 million third round funding. The Encino, CA-based market researcher said it planned to do some acquisitions as part of a wider effort to expand the company’s offerings and presence. The round was led by OpenView Venture Partners. Release

From Armstrong’s memo explaining the sale to staff:

As you know, we