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Originally published September 28, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Page modified September 29, 2010 at 7:34 PM

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AOL buying influential blog TechCrunch

AOL said Tuesday it was buying the influential technology-news blog TechCrunch to bolster its growing online editorial business. The deal, signed on...

The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — AOL said Tuesday it was buying the influential technology-news blog TechCrunch to bolster its growing online editorial business.

The deal, signed on stage at a TechCrunch conference here, will add to AOL's technology coverage, which also includes the gadget blog Engadget.

The companies did not disclose terms of the purchase, but the price tag was more than $25 million, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.

Both TechCrunch and AOL have Seattle connections.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington moved to Seattle earlier this year, and AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong is a veteran of Starwave, the former Bellevue digital-media company that was eventually acquired by the Walt Disney Co.

The acquisition is another step in AOL's quest to revive its reputation as a hub for online news. Under CEO Armstrong, the company has hired hundreds of reporters to cover local news for the company's Patch property, in a bid to strengthen online advertising revenue.

AOL is betting heavily on ad-supported content as its future, after its spinoff from Time Warner last year. The strategy sets it apart from Google, which does not create any of its own content.

AOL also said Tuesday it had acquired 5min Media, a Web-video syndication company that distributes a library of video clips from 1,000 media companies to other websites. It also bought Thing Labs, which makes software for consumers to post online.

Armstrong told the TechCrunch conference audience that AOL would use TechCrunch as a pillar of its technology coverage. It will operate independently from Engadget, he said, but the two sites will leverage each other's content.

TechCrunch, founded in 2005 by Arrington, a lawyer, is widely read by industry insiders for its mix of breaking news and commentary — some of it bombastic. The company generates $10 million in annual revenue and $3.5 million in profit, he has said.

It gets about 3.8 million unique visitors a month, ranking it as one of the more popular technology-news sites. AOL's Engadget gets about 7.3 million visitors.

Arrington, a major editorial voice for the site and a crowd-drawing fixture at his conferences, said in an interview he planned to stay with TechCrunch for years, if not "all my life."

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The agreement includes incentives to encourage the site's staff to stay for three years.

Arrington said AOL had promised "not to impose their bureaucracy" on TechCrunch and that he would retain editorial control.

Over the years, financing for TechCrunch has come entirely out of Arrington's pocket.

Armstrong, who came to AOL after serving years as a top Google executive, first approached TechCrunch about an acquisition in May, according to Arrington, who added that the talks accelerated in the past four weeks. The two companies had discussed a deal two years ago, but nothing came of those talks, he said.

Yahoo and CNet, owned by CBS, had also courted TechCrunch, Arrington said.

Material from Seattle Times technology columnist Brier Dudley was included in this report.

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