SiliconFilter

Twitter Acquires Posterous

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Twitter just announced that it has acquired Posterous, the popular minimalist blogging service. Posterous' services will remain up and running for the time being and the company's blog promises to "give users ample notice if we make any changes to the service." The Posterous team will join Twitter and will, according to today's announcement, work on "on several key initiatives that will make Twitter even better."

Neither Twitter nor Posterous disclosed any financial details of this transaction. Since its launch, Posterous raised about $10 million. The company received its seed funding from Y Combinator in 2008.

Why Would Twitter Buy a Blogging Platform?

This is a relatively unusual acquisition for Twitter. Until now, the company has mainly acquired companies that were already producing products closely related to Twitter itself (including TweetDeck, for example). Posterous, on the other hand, is quite a departure from this. The service, which first made a name for itself by providing very minimalist blogging tools, isn't a clear fit for Twitter, so chances are the goal of this acquisition was more to hire the Posterous team than to integrate the blogging platform into Twitter. 

Even though Posterous was one of the first players in this field of minimalist/short form blogging tools, Tumblr quickly became the more popular platform. While Posterous tried to reinvent itself over the last few months, the service was never quite able to match its competitor's traction, though judging from most of the publicly available traffic data, the service was still growing slowly but steadily.

What Will Happen to Posterous?

Twitter says that the Posterous service will "remain up and running without disruption." At the same time, though, the company also notes that it will give users "ample notice" if it makes any changes to the service and that it will provide users with instructions for backing up their data and moving to another service. Chances are then, that Twitter isn't planning on keeping Posterous up and developing its features for too long. 



12:50 pm


Making Circles Smarter: Google Acquires Katango to Improve Google+

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Google just acquired Katango, a service that can automatically organize your friends on social networks into groups. Katango only launch its first product, a Facebook-focused iPhone application, this July. At the time, I already thought that Katango was really more of a feature than a product and that “I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like Twitter, Google or Facebook would take an interest in buying the company.” Clearly, Google thought so too. Indeed, when I first talked to Katango’s VP of product Yee Lee, he pointed out that his company was already talking to the “big two” players in the social networking space.

At the time, I assumed this meant Twitter and Facebook, but Google was clearly also interested in that company’s product. After all, Katango makes grouping your friends automatic – a feature that would fit in perfectly with Google’s philosophy behind Google+.

The Katango team will join the Google+ team. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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Chances are, it won’t be too long before Google+ will offer some kind of automatic circle creation tool. In its current iteration, Katango, for example, discovers who you went to school with, who may be part of your soccer club or who your family members are and then creates groups for you. In my tests, this always worked extremely well.



10:10 pm



Why Acquiring TweetDeck Makes Sense for Twitter

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The Wall Street Journal today reported on a rumor that Twitter is “in advanced talks to buy TweetDeck,” the popular Twitter client for the desktop and browser. Neither Twitter nor TweetDeck founder Iain Dodsworth have responded to these rumors.

As much as I would prefer to see a healthy ecosystem of Twitter apps, I can’t help but think that it makes sense for Twitter to buy TweetDeck, especially given what we know about Twitter’s priorities these days.

Here is why I think this move makes sense for Twitter: [list]

  • TweetDeck is highly popular with Twitter’s heaviest users. Twitter is working hard on bringing more casual users to its service – even if it’s just for consuming news – but it doesn’t currently have any worthwhile in-house offerings for heavier users. While its mobile clients are quite good, the only desktop client Twitter currently offers is for the Mac and while it’s alright, it lacks quite a few of the features that power users would expect.
  • Rumor has it – and I’d take this with a grain of salt – that UberMedia acquired TweetDeck earlier this year. This rumor was never confirmed. Assuming UberMedia had bought TweetDeck, it would have controlled over 20% of all traffic on Twitter, something Twitter was likely not willing to let happen without a fight. Chances are that if both Twitter and UberMedia are interested in TweetDeck, Twitter will win the bidding war.
  • With the acquisition of Tweetie, Twitter already has some experience in adopting third-party clients to its in-house style.
  • Twitter has already said that it thinks all of these different clients are too confusing for its users. Turning the most popular third-party client into an official one (Twitter Pro?) takes care of this problem.
  • TweetDeck’s browser-based client (freely available for Chrome and as a closed beta for all other browsers) is actually better than Twitter’s own website (though not quite as good as Seesmic Web, in my opinion).
  • Twitter wants to have full control over its ecosystem. [/list]

Of course, there are also some cons. TweetDeck would be the only Adobe AIR-based client in its stable. It would also be the only one with support for Facebook (but that’s easily rectified, I imagine).

Consequence: A Twitter Monoculture

Overall, then, I think it would make sense for Twitter to buy TweetDeck. I’m not sure I like this idea, though. Twitter, it seems, wants to build a monoculture of official clients. This will hold back innovation and hurt Twitter in the long run (how much innovation have we seen from Twitter itself lately, after all?). Twitter needed the third-party ecosystem to grow during its early days and I can’t help but think that it still needs it today.



2:44 pm


AOL Acquires TechCrunch

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After a few hours of wild speculation, TechCrunch founder and co-edit Mike Arrington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong just announced that AOL has indeed acquired TechCrunch. According to Arrington, TechCrunch will be a fully owned subsidiary of AOL, but his team will have no "editorial boundaries" and AOL will allow the blog to operate as usual. Arrington will stay on with AOL for "at least 3 years," which – presumably – is part of the agreement. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Congrats to Mike and the rest of the team.

Below is the full press release.

AOL To Acquire TechCrunch Network Of Sites

Leading Authority on Tech News Will Expand AOL’s Growing Offering of World-Class, Audience-Relevant Content
San Francisco, CA, September 28, 2010 – AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) today announced that it has agreed to acquire TechCrunch, Inc., the company that owns and operates TechCrunch and its network of websites dedicated to technology news, information and analysis. TechCrunch and its associated properties and conferences will join the AOL Technology Network while retaining their editorial independence, further bolstering AOL’s position as one of the world’s leading providers of high-quality, tech-oriented content. The announcement will be made on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, CA.

Founded by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch operates a global network of dedicated properties from Europe to Japan, as well as vertically-oriented websites, including MobileCrunch, CrunchGear, TechCrunchIT, GreenTech, TechCrunchTV and CrunchBase. The TechMeme Leaderboard ranks TechCrunch as the No. 1 source of breaking tech news online, followed by AOL’s Engadget.*

"Michael and his colleagues have made the TechCrunch network a byword for breaking tech news and insight into the innovative world of start-ups, and their reputation for top-class journalism precisely matches AOL’s commitment to delivering the expert content critical to this audience," said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AOL. "TechCrunch and its team will be an outstanding addition to the high-quality content on the AOL Technology Network, which is now a must-buy for advertisers seeking to associate their brands with leading technology content and its audience."

Heather Harde, Chief Executive Officer of TechCrunch, said: "TechCrunch and AOL share a motivating passion for quality technology news and information, and we’re delighted about becoming part of the AOL family. This represents a compelling opportunity to extend the TechCrunch brand while complementing the great work of sites like Engadget and Switched. Our contributors, and our audiences, can look to the future with excitement about what we can build when we have the significant resources of AOL behind us."

Michael Arrington, Founder and Co-Editor of TechCrunch, said: "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. 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."

TechCrunch also hosts industry-leading conferences and events, including The Disrupt series, The Crunchies Awards and various meet-ups worldwide. These conferences bring together industry innovators, entrepreneurs and financing sources to exchange ideas, forge new relationships and discuss the current and future industry trends.
"Engagement with thought leaders is as important to AOL as our engagement with our contributors, audiences, publishers and advertisers, and TechCrunch’s conferences and websites will give us a promising, additional springboard to join and amplify these conversations. We’re committed to quality in everything we do at AOL, and look forward to working with Heather, Michael and the TechCrunch team to extend the brand," said David Eun, President of AOL Media and Studios.

The AOL Technology Network consists of AOL’s tech-oriented properties including Engadget, the Web magazine about everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics; Switched, which covers the intersection of the digital world with entertainment, sports, art, fashion and lifestyle; TUAW, the unofficial Apple weblog; and DownloadSquad, the weblog about downloadable software and other computer subjects. The AOL Technology Network ranks in the top five for tech news according to comScore Media Metrix, August 2010 data, and leads the top five in average time spent and average visits per user.

This acquisition will further AOL’s strategy to become the global leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high-quality, trusted, original content to consumers. TechCrunch will remain headquartered in San Francisco, CA, as a wholly owned AOL unit. Deal terms were not disclosed.



9:51 am


A Few Thoughts About AOLCrunch

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According to Om Malik and the Wall Street Journal, AOL is in the process of acquiring TechCrunch, arguably the world’s foremost technology blog. For the time being, this is only a rumor, but with sources like GigaOm and the WSJ, it sure feels like a very solid rumor. It’s worth noting, though, this is not the first time we’ve heard about a possible sale of TechCrunch and none of the other possible sales ever worked out.

This time, however, it feels like the timing is right: TechCrunch is hosting its highly successful Disrupt conference right now and with AngelGate, the blog’s founder Michael Arrington just broke what could be his biggest story ever – a scoop that is so quintessential Arrington that only he could have found and written about it. If you sell your blog, why not sell it when it’s at its peak?

My personal feeling is that there is probably a kernel of truth behind this rumor. Nobody at TechCrunch is commenting, of course, but my best guess is that we will know more by the end of the week.

If this turns out to be true, then hats off to Arrington and congrats to everybody on the team (quite a few

TechCrunch-1.jpg

TechCrunch writers own a share in the company if I’m not mistaken, so they could see a nice Christmas bonus this year, too)!

AOLCrunch: What Could it Mean for the Rest of the Tech Blogosphere?

As Robert Scoble noted earlier tonight, a sale of TechCrunch to AOL could herald a major shift in the tech blogosphere. Chances are that Arrington won’t stick around to become an employee at AOL and as much as he has built an amazing team at TechCrunch, the best and most interesting post on the site are still written by Arrington himself.

As Scoble also notes, without Arrington around, the site could lose its status as the go-to site for a lot of PR companies and they might shop their news around more. For the tech blog ecosystem, that could only be a good thing.

TechCrunch is currently the dominant force in tech blogging (even while I’m working for their competitor, I have to acknowledge that). I don’t think a sale to AOL will change this right away, but it could open up opportunities for current (and new!) competitors to attack TechCrunch’s status as the preeminent tech blog (or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part…).



9:02 pm