AOL (owners of TechCrunch) today is taking one more step to build out its content empire: it has officially confirmed the acquisition of technology reviews site gdgt — first reported by TechCrunch nearly two weeks ago. Gdgt itself is announcing the news on its own site, and a spokesperson from AOL has also confirmed the news to TechCrunch directly. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but we have heard that the deal was in the high seven figures, and that there was another — higher — offer from another company but that gdgt’s co-founders, Ryan Block and Peter Rojas, went with AOL because it was a better fit.
It seems poetic that future of a company so deeply embedded in the Internet’s past would hinge upon amassing properties that so vehemently chronicle its future. The deal will see Ryan Block take on a bigger role at AOL, where we have heard from sources that he will become head of product for AOL Tech Media, reporting to Jay Kirsch, and taking some of the learnings, technology and sensibility that he and Rojas have brought to gdgt and applying it across AOL’s portfolio of tech sites. In addition to TechCrunch, those sites include Engadget (which Rojas founded and Block used to edit), TUAW and Joystiq. In other words, the acquisition will give gdgt much greater scale for its product.
With AOL’s tech portfolio heavy on blogs and news, gdgt will be bringing complementary content in the form of a huge database of gadget information, created with the aim of “improving the buying experience,” in the words of Block.
The move lets the two come full-circle and, for those who ever wondered, provides more color on why they left in the first place. “We didn’t leave Engadget (or AOL) because we were unhappy, we left to do gdgt because at the time it was tough to build something that was clearly not editorial,” Block told me. “That’s obviously changed, and we’re excited to be able to continue to invest in and grow gdgt, while also bringing a lot of the stuff we’ve built to the rest of AOL Tech.”
The move is not entirely out of the blue. Peter Rojas — who will stay on running gdgt as well as take on a role as executive editor-at-large at Engadget — notes that gdgt has been working with Engadget (and some other publishers, via a WordPress plug-in) via its Databox for about 15 months now. That databox automatically pulls data from gdgt’s product database into a module at the bottom of posts, similar to how TC pulls in data from Crunchbase. AOL had been one of gdgt’s strategic investors prior to this announcement.
The move is key for AOL, in that it gives the company another way to bring in traffic to its existing portfolio of news sites, and it also, by way, of gdgt itself, increases traffic across the network. And the fact that gdgt focuses on the buying experience should not go unnoticed. At a time when other sites like Facebook and Google are making more of an effort for their platforms to derive extra revenue streams from e-commerce to complement their bread and butter of advertising, it makes sense for AOL to explore this area, too.
Here is the official announcement from gdgt.