America Online Acquires Weblogs, Inc.

Taking a major step forward in embracing blogs as a new medium for content, America Online on Thursday announced it will acquire the popular Weblogs, Inc. blog network. Among the 85 blogs to become part of the AOL family are Engadget, Autoblog, Cinematical and TVSquad.

Weblogs boasts 30 million pageviews and another 25 million views of its RSS feeds each month. Links to the 85 blogs will be integrated across AOL.com, including the Personal Finance Channel, the Autos Channel, the Travel Channel, the Games Channel, the Television Channel, and at AOL News.

Blog content will also be added to AOL properties Moviefone, AOL Music and Netscape.

This exciting and groundbreaking combination allows our audiences to be able to do a 'deep-dive' into a vast array of compelling topics that keep them interested and entertained on our network of properties, day after day," AOL EVP of Programming & Products Jim Bankoff said in a statement.

"Moreover, Weblogs, Inc. provides AOL with the ability to quickly launch websites and communities across areas our audience is passionate about, and advertisers are interested in." AOL did not say what sites it planned to launch using the blog architecture.

It's also not yet clear what changes will be made to Weblogs' sites following the completion of the AOL deal, or how the network's readers will react to the blogs going mainstream.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but PaidContent.org publisher Rafat Ali, who first reported the news, indicated the sum could be as high as $20 to $35 million - contingent on hitting performance goals. Ali said Weblogs founder Jason Calacanis also shopped his company to News Corp., Yahoo and MSN.

"Weblogs has made great strides over the past two years building high-profile blogs. Yet, we realized that taking our network to the next level required a partner not only with a significant audience, but the advertising expertise to leverage it," explained Calacanis. "In AOL, we found the ideal company to join."

Weblogs, Inc. becomes AOL's third acquisition for 2005, joining wireless tech company Wildseed and online storage firm Xdrive.

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