Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm.

The two AOLs

AOL EditionsOne side of AOL is starting to build some really interesting, attractive products, like the new Editions iPad news app.

But the other side of the company can’t make the business work well enough to please Wall Street, and the stock is down 20% today in an up market.

This is where being a public company seems like a real bummer. Building the new, cool stuff — what’s happening at one of the AOLs — demands a happy, positive environment. But turnarounds and wind-downs — the stuff happening in plain view at the other AOL — is rarely a happy story.

And even if you can take the company private, and do the dirty work outside of the public eye, how do you keep convincing the newest, coolest people that this is where they should be spending their time, when there are unlimited opportunities for them out there?

Watching AOL and thinking about this sort of stuff makes the Apple comeback story seem even more special. It would be really great to see AOL emerge as a healthy, fascinating Internet company. Parts of it already are. But it’s really going to be hard to make that happen.

Also: Instagram is quickly becoming the next great social network