Updated: Rafat adds: The deal is in the $30-40 million range, my sources say. Truveo, the video serach firm AOL bought, was around $50 million, and Weblogs Inc was about $25 million.
Seeking to expand its social networking capabilities, AOL announced this morning that it has acquired LA-based Web IM and chat firm Userplane; the deal, signed on July 28, closed last week. No terms were disclosed but the model is similar to some recent AOL acquisitions — the company will stay intact and will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Time Warner unit. It will be overseen by Marcien Jenckes, VP-AIM Service.
Founded in 2001 by CEO Michael Jones, Nate Thelen and Javier Hall, Userplane specializes in web-based chat and IM offered within three business models: licensed based on usage, free with Userplane selling ad inventory, and a more recent hybrid with licensed clients including Userplane ad inventory and a 50-50 rev share. AOL was not a Userplane client but the company’s roster includes MySpace.com, Honda, Date.com, Spark, IGN, Tagged, Red Bull and Marvel Comics.
That side of the business will continue while AOL makes use of Userplane’s tools to extend its own chat and IM abilities. From the statement by Ted Leonsis, AOL vice chairman and president, AOL Audience Business: “Userplane will expand and extend the reach and relevance of the AOL instant messaging franchise, while continuing to provide social networking audiences and specialized communities with brandable clients tailored to meet their needs … we look forward to offering optional federation to Userplane communities with our global network of 83 million AOL, AIM and ICQ users.”
Rafat adds: The deal is small, from what I know, and a good chunk of Userplane’s revenues are coming from the deal with MySpace. It had not raised any outside money prior to this, but was doing the VC rounds when AOL came in.
Note from Rafat: We were promised this as an exclusive by the founder a week or so ago…AOL PR twisted themselves up in a bunch and clamped down on any exclusives. Somebody really needs to give AOL PR some education. Really.
Update: More from the Userplane blog — says they were on the verge of a funding round when AOL CEO Jon Miller approached — and from Jeff Clavier, who started working with the company a year ago and says, “there is always the question of what (and how much) could have been achieved by building the company further.” He also calls it “a great outcome for all involved” although that’s hard to define from the outside given the lack of detail.
Related: Userplane Trades Live Chat Software For Ad Network Traffic