AOL acquires Sphere for content, ad networks

Sphere, which supplies customers' Web sites with links to related blogs, stories, and photos, will give AOL a conduit for its content and advertising.

Time Warner's AOL has acquired Sphere, a start-up whose technology beefs up Web pages with links to articles, blog posts, and other related content, the company said Monday night.

Sphere will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL, the company said in a statement, part of the programming division led by Executive Vice President Bill Wilson. AOL--along with Newsweek, Time, Reuters, GigaOM, The Wall Street Journal, and other sites--already was a Sphere partner.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The acquisition will help AOL provide readers with relevant content and distribute AOL content across Sphere's publisher network, said Ron Grant, AOL's president, in a statement. It also gives AOL access to the ad inventory of Sphere's network.

Sphere Chief Executive Tony Conrad expressed enthusiasm for the acquisition in his blog. "We are joining AOL at an opportune time. AOL is doing what great, sustainable businesses do every so often--they're reinventing themselves," Conrad said.

Conrad also said the company will maintain its culture. "Our business approach will also remain unchanged--start-up-style, with the same hunger and spirit Sphere was founded on."

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