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Washington Post picks up Slate from Microsoft

After rumors swirl, the Post finally announces a deal. Slate editor thanks Gates for keeping the magazine intact.

The Washington Post Co. announced Tuesday that it has agreed to purchase online magazine Slate from Microsoft.

In a deal that had been rumored since at least mid-November, the Post will take Slate off Microsoft's hands for an unspecified amount of money. The online magazine, which produces original editorial content on popular topics such as politics, has been controlled by the software giant since Slate first began publishing in 1996. According to Nielsen Net/Ratings, the magazine had 6 million unique users in November.

The Post said Slate's business operations will come under the jurisdiction of its Washington Post Newsweek Interactive (WPNI) subsidiary. The magazine's offices in New York and Washington will continue to operate. Cliff Sloan, vice president of business development at WPNI, was named Slate's new publisher. Jacob Weisberg will remain the magazine's editor.

"I couldn't be more excited about this move," Weisberg said in a statement. "Microsoft has been a wonderful home for us since 1996. It's clear, though, that the Washington Post Co. is the best place for Slate to continue to grow and develop."

In a letter to Slate's readers, Weisberg promised that the acquisition would not result in major changes to the publication. He said all of the magazine's senior editorial staff and writers will remain. He also thanked Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates for keeping the publication afloat even when its business prospects were not entirely promising.

"When other online publications were being scaled back or shuttered, our budget remained intact," Weisberg wrote. "Even after determining some years ago that it did not much want to be in the media business, Microsoft assured us that we had a place, if a somewhat anomalous one, at the company...Even as Microsoft put Slate on the block, (Gates) let us know we'd be welcome to stay put if we couldn't find the right buyer."