Summary:

So the third or fourth time is the charm: AOL (NYSE: AOL) has acquired TechCrunch, which will remain in San Francisco as a wholly owned unit…

AOL and Techcrunch logos

So the third or fourth time is the charm: AOL (NYSE: AOL) has acquired TechCrunch, which will remain in San Francisco as a wholly owned unit. No financial terms disclosed but plenty of numbers will be floating around. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who flew out to San Francisco at the last minute, signed the contract with Michael Arrington, founder and co-editor, and Heather Harde, CEO, on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt — upstaging SF Mayor Gavin Newsome, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt and others.

As part of the theatrics, streamed live, Armstrong hit the button on a TechCrunch post by announcing the deal and posting the press release on the site. (We’ve included the full release below.) At one point, Arrington almost wistfully asked, “Can I still say whatever I like?” as part of a public company. Armstrong replied: “We’ll try to be as hands-off as possible.”

Some details about the deal:

– TechCrunch will be part of the AOL Technology Network, which falls under David Eun as president of AOL Media and Studios, but will remain editorially independent.

– TechCrunch is number one on the Techmeme leaderboard; Engadget, already owned by AOL, is number 2. A lot of emphasis on how TechCrunch and Engadget, acquired when a previous regime bought Weblogs Inc. from Jason Calacanis and Brian Alvey, are meant to be complementary.

– The deal includes MobileCrunch, CrunchGear, TechCrunchIT, GreenTech, TechCrunchTV and CrunchBase, and the conference business.
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