New York Times About To Extend Its Reach, Become A Dominant Web Player

The New York Times Co. announced yesterday that it intends to purchase About.com from magazine company Primedia Inc. for $410 million in cash.

The deal could more than double the online reach of the Times Co., which currently draws 13 million monthly viewers to its 40-plus Web sites, including NYTimes.com and Boston.com. Around 22 million users a month visit About.com, a consumer information site; the acquisition will also give the Times additional advertising inventory.

About.com was founded in 1996 as The Mining Co. by Scott Kurnit, an Internet pioneer who had been a top executive at MCI/News Corporation Internet Ventures and Prodigy Service Co. Kurnit's vision was to create a Web portal consisting of countless microsites produced by individual enthusiasts covering any topic an Internet user would want to access.

Kurnit sold About.com to Primedia in 2001 for $690 million, one of the last of the big Internet acquisitions before the crash.

Under Primedia's ownership, About.com was integrated with and linked to an array of sites operated by Primedia's array of niche magazines.