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Flipboard announced Wednesday morning that it is acquiring Zite, a competing news-recommendation and content-sharing app currently owned by CNN, and will use that acquisition to create a broad advertising and content partnership with the news giant.
The two companies didn’t release the financial details of the acquisition. A report by CNN Money said the deal was worth $60 million, but a CNN source who asked to remain anonymous later said that this figure was “inaccurate.” The source refused to provide an accurate number. An updated post at CNN Money said that the deal could be valued “as high as” $60 million over time, and a Fortune piece said the acquisition was an all-stock transaction, as did a story by Bloomberg.
CNN originally acquired Zite in 2011 for $20 million. The two companies said that the Zite team of about 20 people in San Francisco will move over to join Flipboard in Palo Alto, except for founder Mark Johnson, who wrote on LinkedIn that he is leaving to pursue other opportunities.
In a prepared statement released after the deal was announced, CNN Digital general manager KC Estenson said that the media company hoped to expand its mobile audience by partnering with Flipboard:
“By tapping their expertise, we will create new revenue opportunities and expand CNN’s already massive mobile audience. With this deal CNN is invested in the long term success of Flipboard.”
Flipboard founder Mike McCue said that the partnership with CNN will include all of CNN Digital’s content, with channels for the various different verticals at the media company, as well as customized magazines created by a number of CNN personalities — including Fareed Zakaria, Jake Tapper and John King of CNN News. Those magazines will be going live on Wednesday.
McCue said that Zite’s news-recommendation technology — which was originally developed by Ali Davar and Mike Klaas while at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver — will become part of Flipboard, and would allow the company to grow even faster than it has been. In a blog post about the acquisition, he said:
“Adding Zite’s expertise in personalization and recommendations to Flipboard’s product experience and powerful curator community will create an unparalleled personal magazine for our millions of readers.”
Neither company would say how many users Zite had or how much overlap there was between the two services, but McCue has previously said that Flipboard has more than 100 million users and is adding about 250,000 new ones every day. Flipboard raised $160 million in a Series C round of financing late last year that reportedly valued the company at $800 million.