RIP AOL Instant Messenger

AOL Instant Messenger is about to put up an away message forever.

AIM will officially shut down on December 15 after 20 years in service, its parent company announced Friday. The news marks the end of an era for anyone who came of age with the internet in the late 90s and early 2000s.

When AIM launched in 1997, using the World Wide Web required a desktop computer with a clunky dial-up connection that tied up the phone lines. Perhaps more than any other product, AIM helped establish the internet as a place to hang out rather than being a simple utility.

AIM offered a platform for people to express themselves with embarrassing screen names, profiles filled with colorful fonts and emotional lyrics, and as many messages as you could send before someone in your house kicked you offline.

The product earned a coveted spot in pop culture, making cameos in You’ve Got Mail and Sex and the City.

But the service that defined the internet for a generation of users failed to evolve with them.

A decade after AIM launched, Apple kicked off the smartphone era with the release of the original iPhone. Untethered from their computers, internet users shifted to a range of messaging apps and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

AIM, with a brand recognized by millions, could have capitalized on this shift and emerged as a lead player in the billion-dollar messaging space. Instead, it faded further and further from relevance.

Oath, the company created earlier this year from Verizon’s merging of AOL and Yahoo, acknowledged this unfortunate fact in its announcement Friday of AIM’s shutdown.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” Michael Albers, VP of communications product at Oath, wrote in a blog post.

Case in point: The announcement of AIM’s shutdown was made on Twitter and Tumblr, two of the newer communications platforms that helped displace it.

Eulogies poured in for AIM on Twitter, with users remembering old screen names and lamenting the passage of time. As one user put it, “I can’t decide which John Mayer song I should quote to express my sadness at the death of AOL Instant Messenger.”

Farewell, AIM. We hope that somehow you’ll ~BrB~.

Snapchat debuts its first daily news show

Can an app known for puking rainbows also find traction with hard news? Snapchat is about to find out.

NBC News debuted what it’s billing as “the first daily news show” for Snapchat on Wednesday. The show, called Stay Tuned, will focus on issues like politics and international news.

The first episode includes segments about President Trump’s second meeting with Vladimir Putin, Republicans’ struggle to repeal Obamacare and the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.

The screen may be smaller, but the resources put into the show are sizable. There are 30 people working to produce Stay Tuned, including an executive producer and two co-hosts.

Stay Tuned will air live on Snapchat’s Discover platform in the morning and afternoon on weekdays and once a day on weekends.

For NBC, the new show offers the promise of cultivating a younger audience. NBCUniversal previously invested $500 million in Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, through its public offering.

For Snapchat, the news show could further differentiate its service at a time when rival apps like Instagram are aggressively copying its features.

Snap’s stock recently fell below its IPO price for the first time, due in part to concerns about disappointing user growth. Instagram’s Snapchat clone is now more popular than Snapchat.

NBC is just one of the media companies investing in original programming for Snapchat. Vice and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, have also announced plans to develop Snapchat shows.

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and other tech companies are also investing in original content to be more engaging for users.

Groupon buys rival LivingSocial for a heavy discount

— NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Groupon just scored a great deal buying its competitor.

Groupon announced Wednesday it has agreed to buy LivingSocial, its onetime rival in the daily deals market, for a price low enough to be considered “not material.”

The acquisition marks the end of a remarkable comedown for LivingSocial, which was once said to be valued as high as $4.5 billion on the private market.

“This brings together the two pioneering companies in the local space to help merchants grow their business and consumers get great value on local services and activities,” LivingSocial said in a statement on its website.

The two companies were founded nearly a decade ago and put a new spin on coupons. Groupon and LivingSocial blasted customers with daily deals by e-mail for restaurants, retailers and other activities in various cities.

In time, some businesses complained about losing money and failing to gain regular customers out of the offers. Many customers also appeared to experience daily deal fatigue.

Groupon managed to go public in late 2011 with a market value of more than $12 billion. Today it is worth about $4 billion.

Along the way, Groupon fired its CEO, went through multiple rounds of layoffs and tried to pivot away from e-mail deals. Instead, customers can visit the site and search for deals there.

LivingSocial suffered a similar fate. In recent years, it replaced its CEO, cut more than half its workforce and tried to focus more on offering customers fun “experiences,” regardless of whether they’re 50% off.

The LivingSocial brand will continue to exist, at least for now, according to the company. The acquisition is expected to close next month.