AOL sells ICQ for almost $200 million

AOL has sold its ICQ instant messenger service for $187.5 millon to Russia's Digital Sky Technologies (DST). Business Wire reported the deal on Wednesday saying the instant messaging software has a large presence in Russia, Germany, Czech Republic and Israel. 

Chief Executive Officer of DST Yuri Milner said the acquisition of ICQ was a strategic enhancement of their business in Russia and Eastern Europe. "ICQ's long-standing brand name and its sizeable loyal customer base together represent a very attractive opportunity to further strengthen our position in the region."

TechCrunch believes the $187.5 million price-tag falls short of AOL's rumoured desire to get between $200 and $250 million for the service. It is thought ICQ first went up for sale last November with bids from DST, Google and Skype supposed to have been made around December. 

AOL originally acquired ICQ in June 1998 for $400 million after it bought Mirabilis, the Israeli company which created the program in 1996. ICQ is a popular instant messaging platform The first version of ICQ was released in November 1996 and became popular across Russian and the U.S. ICQ stands for "I seek you". Over 25% of ICQ's 32 million unique monthly visitors are from Russia where it is the leading instant messaging service in the country.

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39 Comments

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I started using ICQ when it first came out. I like it better than MSN, I had a lot of chat buddies from different countries without knowing their email addresses first hand. I hope Russia keeps ICQ alive for a long time.

Shadrack said,
I really liked ICQ. One of the best IMs out there that had some amazing features right from the start. For instance, you could send a message to someone who is offline and it would popup when they logged in. Lots of modern IMs don't support that.

Not to mention very flexible privacy options (two separate invisible and visible lists, ability to be visible to visible list only, to everyone, except invisible list or to be completely invisible to everyone), extended statuses (msn has just 3 statuses and server-side status message. it's just boring...). right now icq has in average 13 statuses + 29-31 extended statuses with a client-side status message. client icon is also popular feature. the all-seeing eye, which logs everyone who reading your status is also a popular feature.

of course official client is not popular, so aol is not able to make any money out of ad banners in their client.

I really liked ICQ. One of the best IMs out there that had some amazing features right from the start. For instance, you could send a message to someone who is offline and it would popup when they logged in. Lots of modern IMs don't support that.

There was also a standalone server/client package they gave away for free that was also very awesome. We used it at work for awhile back in the day.

The only reason I stopped using it was because everyone I knew was on either Yahoo or AOL IMs.

i dont know you guys, but ICQ was and still the best IM with most featured than msn or live messenger could get.

One could argue about being bloated but wlm 2009 its the most bloated IM right now, with two process eating more than 50mb of ram and wlm cant resume file transfer when icq got it for ages.

right now the latest ICQ serves very well as a FB chat and Twitter client plus ICQ, and its very lite compared to wlm 2009 which its getting more ads and bloat

At least now we can send offline messages with MSN took lot of time for MS to implement this feature ISQ had for as far as i can remember.

eilegz said,
i dont know you guys, but ICQ was and still the best IM with most featured than msn or live messenger could get.

One could argue about being bloated but wlm 2009 its the most bloated IM right now, with two process eating more than 50mb of ram and wlm cant resume file transfer when icq got it for ages.

right now the latest ICQ serves very well as a FB chat and Twitter client plus ICQ, and its very lite compared to wlm 2009 which its getting more ads and bloat

Unless you are on a machine with 256MB of RAM I really don't see 50MB impacting my performance... and well, WLM has like 2 adds, one in the main window and one in the conversation window, both which you can remove with software.

eilegz said,
i dont know you guys, but ICQ was and still the best IM with most featured than msn or live messenger could get.

One could argue about being bloated but wlm 2009 its the most bloated IM right now, with two process eating more than 50mb of ram and wlm cant resume file transfer when icq got it for ages.

right now the latest ICQ serves very well as a FB chat and Twitter client plus ICQ, and its very lite compared to wlm 2009 which its getting more ads and bloat


I can only agree about file transfer, but we'll see what's await us in wave 4. Other than that, ICQ deserves to be abandoned at least because of massive spam, it's just most annoying IM experience ever.

I miss playing Rock, Papers Scissors with friends!
ICQ was excellent it the old days. Too bad people stopped using it to favor Windows Live Messenger, which evolved accordingly.

I don't know of anyone who uses ICQ either...maybe Russia's Digital Sky Technologies will make it into something we'll want again! (if I dare to make a positive statement) - on the negative side...I'm hoping AOL is a sinking ship! I almost WANT them to go under! - at least be humbled anyways.

JamesWeb said,
They're selling ICQ, they're selling Bebo, will they have anything left at this rate?
Both of them were at the bottom of their markets, why not dump them and use the money to innovate? (we'll see if that happens...it is aol after all )

JamesWeb said,
They're selling ICQ, they're selling Bebo, will they have anything left at this rate?

A mountain of coasters.

KSib said,
I stopped using IM clients after I got out of high school. It was facebook and email from then on.

Seriously? You just like gave a step back.

AOL originally acquired ICQ in June 1998 for $400 million after it bought Mirabilis

And then had no idea what to actually do with it.

njlouch said,

And then had no idea what to actually do with it.

+1
Bloat up the software and let Microsoft enter the market with Messenger, a simplified IM program.. which ICQ once was.

I quit using ICQ when I found out AOL bought it. Tried it again a few years later to see how it progressed, and it progressed in AOL style. They make some really crappy software, and turn good stuff bad.

tsutton said,
I still use it... with my low low number!

I wish i could remember my low number. I had like 5 or 6 numbers in mine!

kraized said,
Bought for $400m. Sold for $187.5m. Ouch!

Dont forget inflation... and I think the purchase in 2010 dollars is something like $534 million... so a loss of $347 million? I wonder how much revenue it generated throughout the years

I used to use ICQ a lot. It was good in the day but lost it's american user base I miss my old # wish I could remember it!

vip said,
I used to use ICQ a lot. It was good in the day but lost it's american user base I miss my old # wish I could remember it!

I haven't touched my account in probably close to 10 years. I just remembered my number, logged in and it's still there. Too bad it doesn't look like it's changed much and no one is there anymore lol

As long as they don't do anything funny with it...
No wait! I hope they *will* ruin it so I can persuade my friends to switch to an IM that is less 90's.