Tomorrow, AOL will announce the acquisition of the San Francisco-based company Sphere, a blog content engine launched in 2006. The price is not disclosed, but sources suggest it is in the range of $ 25 million or even slightly more. More details of Om Malik
When Sphere first launched as a blog search engine, they were already behind in the blog search game. Technorati and others had been around for quite some time, and even Google Blog Search was almost eight months old. Sphere had some cool features, but it was in a tough and competitive space.
But CEO Tony Conrad, a former venture capitalist, quickly adapted to the changing market and focused on delivering blog results relevant to content served by major news and content sites. Time was the first to go live with âSphere Itâ links, and most of the major news sites have followed over time. In July 2007, we found that they had very quietly completed a transformation into a ârelated contentâ engine.
Sphere lands in Bill Wilson’s organization, the executive vice president of programming at AOL. Its division controls the properties of AOL’s content (Entertainment, Finance, Weblogs, etc.). During a phone call today, Wilson told me that he has no plans to change Sphere’s approach or brand. They are developing a number of micro-brands / niche brands, he said, and leveraging what he calls the âpassion pointsâ of a small but passionate audience. Sphere fits perfectly into this by showing relevant content to users and putting AOL content in front of more users.
Congratulations to Conrad on the acquisition, as well as to the rest of the Sphere team (Martin Remy, Steve Nieker, Toni Schneider, Mike Garfias, Alex Bendig, Andy Cabell, Anne Dorman, Jeff Yolen, Adam Embick, Josh Guttman, Kevin Cowan, Sven Henderson, Troy Vitullo and Michael Harzheim). Sphere had raised $ 3.5 million in venture capital over two rounds.