Government Won't Prosecute AOL Execs Over Classic Bubble-Era Scam

from the the-good-old-days dept

Executives at AOL who were around during the bubble don’t have a whole lot to cheer about these days, but they can at least breathe a little easier now that the government has declined to press charges after a five-year investigation into accounting fraud. At issue were a series of advertising deals between AOL and other internet sites. Essentially, they would swaps ads on the other’s site, and book revenues on the deals, even though no money exchanged hands. But while no top AOL brass were charged, a few convictions were won against people lower down and executives at the other companies. Deals that inflated revenue without translating into higher net income were common during the bubble, as investors hungry for growth ignored the lack of profits. But the specific deals in question occurred in 2000 and 2001, so if anything, they look like desperate measures that were a remnant of of the days when all an internet company needed to keep suckers pushing its quarter-on-quarter revenue growth, rather than anything like profits or actual cash coming through the door.

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