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AOL snaps up IM developer Userplane

Internet giant hopes the acquisition will expand its community networking capabilities.

AOL announced Monday that it acquired Userplane, a developer of chat and instant-messaging software, in a move to enhance its community networking offerings.

Los Angeles-based Userplane develops Web-based chat tools used by such companies as, Honda and The company, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL, has licensed its technology to more than 100,000 Web sites since its founding in 2001. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition marks AOL's latest move to expand its instant-messaging efforts. Last month, the company opened up its AIM software development kit to Mac OS X, Pocket PC and Linux developers. The Internet giant also launched a public beta of its AIM Pro service for businesses, which targets working professionals, small work groups and companies.

"Userplane will expand and extend the reach and relevance of the AOL instant-messaging franchise," Ted Leonsis, AOL Audience Business president, said in a statement.

Userplane's chat and instant-messaging services are distributed to monthly subscribers based on usage, or through a free, ad-supported model. The company also allows users to place its advertising inventory on its site, under a revenue-sharing agreement. The company said its technology is designed to be easily integrated into various Web services.