Tim Armstrong, AOL’s new CEO, is a very big believer in local, with personal investments in a New York-area hyperlocal site (Patch) via his Polar Investments. Moreover, in his previous role as head of sales for Google, he frequently commented on his interests in developing local.
Here’s a comment in the “about us” section of Patch (which is advised by Jeff Jarvis, among others):
“Polar invested in Patch because Tim believes that Patch should be in every community in America, and wants Patch in his town. He wants to read local news stories done by journalists, make sure that local government is transparent and accountable, see all the ways he can give back to his community, and have his town be as interesting and alive online as it is offline.
Tim is also a believer in American ingenuity and knows that products like Patch will help deliver a commercially viable way for communities to support the important work of local journalists, institutions, governments, and businesses. Tim and his family live in a Connecticut patch.”
Speaking in early 2006 at a Software and Information Industry Association Summit in New York, Armstrong had a great deal to say about local. Until recently, local “has been a big challenge,” he said. But now, “it is probably one of the areas that is going to grow the fastest.”
Armstrong added that local’s growth was likely to manifest itself in numerous ways (and remember, these comments are more than three years old). Local stores, for instance, could be cataloged in terms of “physical stores,” “in-store mapping,” “co-op advertising” and “inventory.” “Users want access to assets,” he said. Armstrong also noted that product referrals and recommendations are likely to play a major role in local’s future.