AOL announced it has acquired TechCrunch, the hard-edged, tech industry news and gossip site along with associated properties that include a conference group and several vertical sites including MobileCrunch, GreenTech and TechCrunchIT.
The two companies said Silicon Valley-based TechCrunch and related sites will retain their editorial independence, while operating as part of the AOL Technology Network.
TechCrunch founder and co-editor Michael Arrington was scheduled to announce the deal at the company's TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco Tuesday.
"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 said in a statement that credited AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong role in the deal.
"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," he added.
Media analyst Philip Leigh said the deal makes sense as part of a broader expansion plan by AOL.
"After 40 years of wandering in the desert, AOL has finally decided it wants to be a media property," Leigh, senior analyst with Inside Digital Media, told InternetNews.com. "I think what AOL wants to do is establish itself as a holding company for successful new media properties.
"AOL's been in decline for 10 years. This is the first move I've seen them do that makes sense," Leigh added.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. TechCrunch will retain its current headquarters and operate as a wholly owned AOL unit.
Social media analyst Paul Gillin said the deal is part of a natural evolution of consolidation in the blogosphere. "The first five years of blogging is over and some winners are going to get cherry-picked," Gillin told InternetNews.com. "I wouldn't be surprised if some of the other high profile blogs that have done well get picked up by larger media companies."
The AOL deal would appear to be a coup for Arrington, a lawyer and entrepreneur, whose project to launch a tablet computer called the CrunchPad, blew up last year over a dispute with his manufacturing partner.