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The WELL president eyes buyout

Maria Wilhelm is negotiating to buy the famous online community.

Maria Wilhelm, president of The WELL, is in negotiations to buy the famous online community, according to sources.

Rumors have been posted on The WELL's bulletin boards for the last month about a possible sale of the service to Wilhelm.

It is widely known that The WELL's current owner, Bruce Katz, had wanted to sell the cantankerous online community. But only recently did it become clear that Wilhelm, a veteran journalist who left Pathfinder to join The WELL, was in the market for the community.

"When I first heard it I didn't believe it," said one source. "Now I pretty much believe it. I have been informed by a couple of sources that it's a done deal."

Another source said that Wilhelm had put together a syndicate of investors to buy The WELL from Katz.

Under the plan, Wilhelm would buy the online portion of the service. It boasts 11,000 faithful members paying $10 a month, representing one of the few successful Web subscription businesses. But while the company isn't in the red, it isn't pulling in big bucks either.