AOL Time Warner Acquires Sphere

Time Warner Inc., parent company of AOL Inc., said on Tuesday it has purchased Web technology company Sphere Source Inc. Sphere will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL.

Sphere was founded in 2005 as a blog search engine.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but unnamed sources said the deal was worth about $25 million.

“This acquisition provides AOL with access to advertising inventory across Sphere’s network, while growing its reach to content publishers via the widget,” AOL President Ron Grant said in a statement.

Sphere, based in San Francisco, California, develops Web technology that displays articles, videos and blog entries adjoining other related content on Web sites. Its technology is used by over 50,000 sites, including those of media organizations CNN, Reuters, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Washington Post and CBS.

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.

Sphere initially rolled out its related-content widget in 2006.