AOL buys TechCrunch

By Stacy Cowley, tech editor


SAN FRANCISCO (CNNMoney.com) -- TechCrunch said Tuesday it has agreed to be acquired by AOL, a deal that came together quickly after rumors of the negotiations leaked.

"This wasn't supposed to happen today -- this was supposed to happen later," TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington said from the stage at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference. "So we had to rush through this."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong joined Arrington onstage to sign the acquisition papers in front of the conference audience. Arrington polled the crowd on whether or not he should sign. "Absolutely not!" beat "yay" by about a 60/40 split.

Arrington signed anyway.

TechCrunch, which launched in 2005 and quickly became one of Silicon Valley's most influential news outlets, operates a network of tech-focused blogs. Audience traffic tracker Compete.com estimates the TechCrunch network generates more than 2 million visitors each month.

AOL (AOL) already has a foot in the tech blog world with Engadget, the popular hardware enthusiast site it picked up in its 2005 purchase of blog network Weblogs Inc.

While many Weblogs sites folded in the wake of that deal, the survivors include some high-profile successes like TVSquad, Autoblog and The Unofficial Apple Weblog.

These blogs help anchor a fast-growing AOL blog network whose marquee sites include DailyFinance, WalletPop, Luxist and SlashFood. (DailyFinance and WalletPop are CNNMoney.com partners.)

AOL's highest profile -- and most expensive -- initiative is Patch, a hyperlocal blog network that currently has more than 100 sites chronicling communities across the U.S. AOL says it is investing $50 million to rapidly expand Patch, which aims to cover 500 places by early 2011.

Like Yahoo, AOL is trying to develop a vast content reservoir while walking the fine line between mass and class. Its Seed system for buying and distributing content mimics the model eHow creator Demand Media popularized: Pay freelancers rock-bottom rates to churn out a flood of dashed-off content optimized to rank highly in search engines. Demand filed for an IPO last month.

But AOL and Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) -- which in May acquired Demand rival Associated Content -- have recently made moves aimed at boosting their content quality. Each has poached star journalists from outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek and Politico to build sites focused on breaking news and investigative reporting. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,678.23 -40.31 -0.23%
Nasdaq 4,863.36 -13.16 -0.27%
S&P 500 2,056.15 -4.90 -0.24%
Treasuries 2.01 0.09 4.53%
Data as of 4:16am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.42 0.01 0.06%
Cisco Systems Inc 27.09 -0.37 -1.35%
Apple Inc 124.24 0.86 0.70%
Intel Corp 30.08 0.19 0.64%
Micron Technology In... 26.66 0.09 0.34%
Data as of Mar 26
Sponsors

Sections

Lots of attention is paid to college graduation rates of lower-income students, but many middle-class kids don't finish their bachelor's degrees either. More

Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash uses 'The Matrix' to pitch virtual reality at F8, Facebook developer conference. More

Startup PredictifyMe's groundbreaking technology could help protect against school bombings More

The IRS has paid out more than $191 billion in refunds so far this tax season to 66.1 million filers. More