AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong, on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, has announced that they have acquired the TechCrunch blogging network for an undisclosed amount. The rumors began last night with a post on GigaOm and blogs have been buzzing ever since. While the specifics of the deal have not been announced SAI speculates that AOL paid around $40 million, with $25 million being cash and the rest an earnout.
TechCrunch is the leading source for breaking tech news according to the Techmeme leaderboard. Right behind TechCrunch is Engadget, which is also an AOL property. The AOL Technology Network ranks in the top five for tech news according to comScore Media Metrix, including: Engadget, Switched, TUAW, and DownloadSquad.
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.
This past June, AOL president of AOL’s media and studios division David Eun said that AOL would hire hundreds of new content creators. I don't think anyone thought about them buying TechCrunch at the time. This move definitely goes along with their strategy of becoming "the world's largest producer of high-quality content, period." Founder and Co-Editor of TechCrunch Michael Arrington says he looks forward to working with everyone at AOL. He believes that Tim Armstrong and friends have an "exciting vision for the future of AOL as a global leader in creating and delivering world-class content to consumers, be it through original content creation, partnerships or acquisitions."
This acquisition resurfaces a question we brought up late last year when we asked black media: Why mimic blogs instead of just acquiring successful ones? AOL seems to recognize the value in providing quality content and wants to own that content, but instead of building something from the ground up, they made strategic moves to become a powerhouse in the blogosphere. This goes all the way back to their acquisition of Black Voices.
On the other hand, we see time and time again where prominent black brands completely fail at launching their own blogs. It's not as if there is a shortage of quality african-american blogs to choose from, so one has to wonder why they all make the same mistakes. Acquiring an existing blog with built-in traffic, a loyal following, and decent writers has to be worth more than damaging your brand by failing.
AOL keeping Arrington on the team is definitely a good idea. He is a valuable part of the TechCrunch brand. AOL has mostly kept a hands-off approach to their current blogs and branding, but it will be interesting to see if AOL buying TechCrunch will change anything for the blogging network.