AOL Announces TechCrunch Acquisition

Before the ink could dry on its agreement to by video hub 5min, AOL on Tuesday announced plans to acquire TechCrunch Inc. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although AOL reportedly paid about $30 million for the popular technology blog.

Also on Tuesday, AOL announced the acquisition of Thing Labs, a maker of Web-based social-networking software.

Founded in 2005 by one-time lawyer Michael Arrington, TechCrunch has established itself as one of the influential blogs in the high-stakes world of Silicon Valley.

Its network of sites, including TechCrunch, MobileCrunch, CrunchGear and GreenTech, now reach over 10 million unique visitors -- and racks up over 33 million page views -- a month. TechCrunch also operates a global network of dedicated properties from Europe to Japan.

Per the deal, TechCrunch and its associated properties and conferences will join the AOL Technology Network, while retaining their editorial independence, according to AOL.

The deal is part of AOL's broader content-centric strategy, which CEO Tim Armstrong has been pursuing for the last year.

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TechCrunch "precisely matches AOL's commitment to delivering the expert content critical to this audience," Armstrong said on Tuesday, which the TechCrunch network says is "now a must-buy for advertisers seeking to associate their brands with leading technology content and its audience."

Said Michael Arrington, founder and co-editor of TechCrunch: "Armstrong and his team have an exciting vision for the future of AOL as a global leader in creating and delivering world-class content."

While skeptics remain, some industry watches are impressed with the efforts AOL is making to compete online. "Nobody gives AOL enough credit for the massive transformation that the brand has undertaken," said Adam Hanft, CEO of marketing/branding firm Hanft Projects.

Regarding the TechCrunch acquisition, Hanft said "it's a brilliant kung-fu move," adding: "Now, AOL owns the snarky, spit-in-your-eye tech site that is beloved by the same crowd that mocks AOL's dial-up heritage."

TechCrunch hosts various conferences and events, including The Disrupt series, The Crunchies Awards and various meet-ups worldwide.

The AOL Technology Network consists of AOL's tech-oriented properties including Engadget, Switched, which covers the intersection of the digital world with entertainment, sports, art, fashion and lifestyle; TUAW, the unofficial Apple weblog; and DownloadSquad, the weblog about downloadable software and other computer subjects.

TechCrunch will remain headquartered in San Francisco, CA, as a wholly owned AOL unit.

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