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Google buys blog tool developer

The Internet search company will acquire Pyra Labs, the handful of Web developers who helped jump-start the personal publishing phenomenon known as blogging.

Internet search company Google will acquire Pyra Labs, the handful of Web developers who helped jump-start the personal publishing phenomenon known as blogging, Pyra's founder said Sunday.

Word of the deal spread after Pyra Labs Chief Executive Evan Williams confirmed on his personal Weblog that his team of six developers would join Google.

Weblogs, or blogs for short, are a form of grassroots online diaries publishing that give ordinary people with limited technical knowledge the ability to update personal Web sites. A blog consists of short, frequently updated postings that are arranged chronologically, highlighting the latest material.

For Google, which has become a household name for searching the Web, the move marks the privately held company's latest push beyond search and into publishing. Last fall, it launched Google News. Two years ago Google acquired Deja.com's Usenet, a massive archive of Web-based discussion groups.

A Google representative could not immediately be reached for comment Monday and no statement was released on their site.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

Williams called joining Google a "dream scenario," giving him access to what he wrote in his blog was "not just money, but (computer) servers, and bandwidth and traffic and the index, but (also) incredible brains."

Blogger.com, the flagship site of Pyra Labs, boasted in January that 1 million users had registered to use its Blogger software. Blogger offers a free, ad-supported version of its software and a $35 version for commercial publishers.

Rivals to Pyra's Blogger software include Movable Type, Radio Userland and LiveJournal.com. Several blog diarists, including former Financial Times journalist Nick Denton, questioned whether and how Google would ensure equal access to all blog publishing systems, not just Blogger-based content.

Blogging has mushroomed in recent years to attract hundreds of thousands of passionate writers who range from teen diarists to vanity publishers to music fans to well-known celebrities.

Among its best-known practitioners are recording artists Moby and Ru Paul, journalists such as ex-New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan, NBC television weatherman Al Roker, humorist Dave Barry and political pundit Ariana Huffington.

Bloggers claimed credit with helping topple former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott from his post last year after several Washington pundits used their Weblogs to highlight racially divisive comments Lott had made in praise of Sen. Strom Thurmond, comments overlooked by mainstream journalists.

Pyra Labs was formed in early 1999 by Williams, with funding from, among others, computer publisher O'Reilly & Associates, Advance Publications, the holding company of New Yorker magazine and Vanity Fair.

Story Copyright  © 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.