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AOL Buys TechCrunch

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AOL has acquired technology news site TechCrunch, the company announced Tuesday.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong appeared together onstage at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference to announce the news.

Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson reports that, according to an AOL insider, the price was around $25 million. CNBC pegs the price at $40 million.

"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," Armstrong said in an announcement. "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."

"Tim Armstrong and his team 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," Arrington added. "I look forward to working with everyone at AOL as we build on our reputation for independent tech journalism and continue to set the agenda for insight, reviews and collaborative discussion about the future of the technology industry."

On-stage, the pair joked about TechCrunch's editorial independence.

"We'll try to be as hands-off as possible," Armstrong said.

Arrington said that the site has absolutely no editorial bounds at all, as evidenced last week when he wrote a controversial post about a Silicon Valley angel investors meeting including many people he considered close friends.

Full press release below:

AOL TO ACQUIRE TECHCRUNCH NETWORK OF SITES

Leading Authority on Tech News Will Expand AOL's Growing Offering of World-Class, Audience-Relevant Content

San Francisco, CA, September 28, 2010 - AOL Inc. [NYSE: AOL] today announced that it has agreed to acquire TechCrunch, Inc., the company that owns and operates TechCrunch and its network of websites dedicated to technology news, information and analysis. TechCrunch and its associated properties and conferences will join the AOL Technology Network while retaining their editorial independence, further bolstering AOL's position as one of the world's leading providers of high-quality, tech-oriented content. The announcement will be made on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, CA.

Founded by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch operates a global network of dedicated properties from Europe to Japan, as well as vertically-oriented websites, including MobileCrunch, CrunchGear, TechCrunchIT, GreenTech, TechCrunchTV and CrunchBase. The TechMeme Leaderboard ranks TechCrunch as the No. 1 source of breaking tech news online, followed by AOL's Engadget.*

"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."

Heather Harde, Chief Executive Officer of TechCrunch, said: "TechCrunch and AOL share a motivating passion for quality technology news and information, and we're delighted about becoming part of the AOL family. This represents a compelling opportunity to extend the TechCrunch brand while complementing the great work of sites like Engadget and Switched. Our contributors, and our audiences, can look to the future with excitement about what we can build when we have the significant resources of AOL behind us."

Michael Arrington, Founder and Co-Editor of TechCrunch, said: "Tim Armstrong and his team 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. I look forward to working with everyone at AOL as we build on our reputation for independent tech journalism and continue to set the agenda for insight, reviews and collaborative discussion about the future of the technology industry."

TechCrunch also hosts industry-leading conferences and events, including The Disrupt series, The Crunchies Awards and various meet-ups worldwide. These conferences bring together industry innovators, entrepreneurs and financing sources to exchange ideas, forge new relationships and discuss the current and future industry trends.

"Engagement with thought leaders is as important to AOL as our engagement with our contributors, audiences, publishers and advertisers, and TechCrunch's conferences and websites will give us a promising, additional springboard to join and amplify these conversations. We're committed to quality in everything we do at AOL, and look forward to working with Heather, Michael and the TechCrunch team to extend the brand," said David Eun, President of AOL Media and Studios.

The AOL Technology Network consists of AOL's tech-oriented properties including Engadget, the Web magazine about everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics; 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. The AOL Technology Network ranks in the top five for tech news according to comScore Media Metrix, August 2010 data, and leads the top five in average time spent and average visits per user.

This acquisition will further AOL's strategy to become the global leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high-quality, trusted, original content to consumers. TechCrunch will remain headquartered in San Francisco, CA, as a wholly owned AOL unit. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding business strategies, market potential, future financial and operational performance and other matters. Such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the anticipated benefits of the transaction and other statements identified by words such as "may," "will," "intend," "should," "expect" or similar expressions. These statements are based on management's current expectations and beliefs, and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances, including, but not limited to, the satisfaction of the closing conditions to the transaction and the parties' performance of their obligations under the agreements; changes in our plans, strategies and intentions; the competitiveness and quality of our products and services; our ability to retain, hire and develop key employees; and the intensity of competition. Any forward-looking information is not a guarantee of future performance and actual results may vary materially from those expressed or implied by the statements herein, due to changes in economic, business, competitive, technological, strategic and/or regulatory factors, as well as factors affecting AOL's operations and businesses. More detailed information about these factors as they relate to AOL may be found in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in AOL's Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AOL is under no obligation to, and expressly disclaims any obligation to, update or alter the forward-looking statements contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About AOL
AOL Inc. (NYSE:AOL) is a leading global Web services company with an extensive suite of brands and offerings and a substantial worldwide audience. AOL's business spans online content, products and services that the company offers to consumers, publishers and advertisers. AOL is focused on attracting and engaging consumers and providing valuable online advertising services on both AOL's owned and operated properties and third-party websites. In addition, AOL operates one of the largest Internet subscription access services in the United States, which serves as a valuable distribution channel for AOL's consumer offerings.

About TechCrunch
TechCrunch is a weblog dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies. In addition to covering new companies, we profile existing companies that are making an impact (commercial and/or cultural) on the new web space. TechCrunch has now grown into a network of technology focused sites offering a wide range of content and new media.

*TechMeme Leaderboard, Sept. 28, 2010