AOL to Acquire Tech Blog TechCrunch.com

AOL is acquiring the influential technology news blog, TechCrunch.com, to bolster its growing online editorial business.

AOL is acquiring the influential technology news blog, TechCrunch.com, to bolster its growing online editorial business. Photo: AOL

AOL Inc., the Internet company spun off from Time Warner, said it agreed to acquire the popular technology blog and network TechCrunch Inc. as it tries to remake itself into a Web entertainment and news powerhouse.

TechCrunch blogs will become part of the AOL Technology Network “while retaining their editorial independence,” AOL said in a statement today.

The company didn’t disclose the terms of the sale. However, according to a source familiar with the deal, the value of transaction is about $30 million dollars.

AOL will buy the influential technology blog as well as its conference division from founder Michael Arrington. “We are still investing in content areas and adding more content brands to our portfolio,” said AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong about the acquisition.

TechCrunch Inc. operates a global network of dedicated properties from Europe to Japan, as well as vertically-oriented websites, including MobileCrunch, CrunchGear, TechCrunchIT, GreenTech, TechCrunchTV and CrunchBase.

TechCrunch founder Mr. Armstrong said that Mr. Arrington has a multi-year agreement with AOL. He also said Mr. Arrington will continue to run TechCrunch and that AOL will give it more resources. AOL and TechCrunch announced the news on Tuesday during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

“I look forward to working with everyone at AOL as we build on our reputation for independent tech journalism and continue to set the agenda for insight, reviews and collaborative discussion about the future of the technology industry,” Mr. Arrington said in a statement.

“Michael and his colleagues have made the TechCrunch network a byword for breaking tech news and insight into the innovative world of start-ups, and their reputation for top-class journalism precisely matches AOL’s commitment to delivering the expert content critical to this audience,” said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AOL.

“TechCrunch and its team will be an outstanding addition to the high-quality content on the AOL Technology Network, which is now a must-buy for advertisers seeking to associate their brands with leading technology content and its audience,” he added.

The AOL Technology Network consists of AOL’s tech-oriented properties including Engadget.com, the Web magazine about everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics;  Switched.com, which covers the intersection of the digital world with entertainment, sports, art, fashion and lifestyle.

It also includes TUAW.com, the unofficial Apple weblog; and DownloadSquad.com, the weblog about downloadable software and other computer subjects.

Heather Harde, Chief Executive Officer of TechCrunch, said: “TechCrunch and AOL share a motivating passion for quality technology news and information, and we’re delighted about becoming part of the AOL family.”

“This represents a compelling opportunity to extend the TechCrunch brand while complementing the great work of sites like Engadget and Switched. Our contributors, and our audiences, can look to the future with excitement about what we can build when we have the significant resources of AOL behind us,” he added.

The AOL Technology Network ranks in the top five for tech news according to comScore Media Metrix, August 2010 data, and leads the top five in average time spent and average visits per user.

AOL was spun off from Time Warner Inc last year after a disastrous decade-long marriage. Mr. Armstrong, who was a former executive with Google, was tapped to resurrect the 25-year-old company once synonymous with dial-up Internet access into one of the web’s main content destinations.

AOL has been acquiring businesses that will help it add news and other content to lure users and advertisers, while fending off competition from rivals such as Yahoo! and Facebook.

AOL earlier today also acquired 5min Media, which has a library of more than 200,000 videos featuring content including fashion, cooking and fitness. The company also said it is closing social news aggregator Propeller.com.

Armstrong has embarked on an aggressive round of cost-cutting since taking the reins at AOL last year and has said he plans to refocus the company on “content, ads and communications.”

TechCrunch was founded in 2005 by Michael Arrington, who launched the blog from his home in Atherton, California, to share news about emerging internet companies.

The company is now based in San Francisco and has more than 40 employees, according to its website. In addition to publishing an assortment of technology blogs, TechCrunch hosts conferences, including TechCrunch Disrupt, which is going on now in San Francisco.

Prior to starting TechCrunch, Arrington worked at technology startups, including Achex, a company he co- founded that was bought by First Data Corp. in 2001. Until 1999, he was a corporate and securities lawyer, whose clients included technology companies, venture funds and investment banks. [TechCrunch via Daily Telegraph (UK) and Paid Content]

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