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MSNBC Interactive is making a hyperlocal push, with the purchase of EveryBlock, which offers updates culled from public records — like 911 dispatches — and news sources in 15 cities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but likely in the low single digit millions. Until last month the startup — run by Washingtonpost.com veteran Adrian Holovaty (pictured left) — was supported by a two year, $1.1 million grant from the Knight Foundation.
It’s the second purchase of a hyperlocal news startup by a big media company this summer. In June, AOL (NYSE: TWX) bought Patch Media, which operates five hyperlocal sites.
MSNBC.com’s last acquisition was social media company Newsvine in October 2007. MSNBC has continued to maintain Newsvine as a separate entity — although it has integrated its discussion features throughout MSNBC.com.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether or how MSNBC would now integrate EveryBlock with MSNBC.com. MSNBC says that EveryBlock will continue on as an independent brand — but it’s easy to see how it could add customized EveryBlock updates to its home page, depending on where MSNBC.com visitors are located. In a statement, MSNBC says it is now “positioned to help EveryBlock lead us into local markets nationwide.”
Earlier this year, EveryBlock’s Holovaty said his startup faced a predicament since under the terms of the Knight Foundation grant, the EveryBlock publishing system had to be open sourced so that anybody could create similar sites. “How do we sustain our project if our code is free to the world?” he asked. Holovaty went on to say that he was “looking for ideas and partners who would be interested in helping us figure this out.”
In a post Monday, Holovaty writes that he’s staying with EveryBlock and the deal will have no impact on the platform’s open-source code.