AOL Inc., the once-leading Internet service provider that saw its market value and subscriber base evaporate over the past decade, bought three dot-com startups yesterday in a bid to restore its relevance.
Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong appeared on stage during a tech industry conference in San Francisco to announce the purchase of TechCrunch Inc., an powerful news blog and the host of the event. AOL paid about $25 million, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be recognized because the terms weren’t made public. The company also bought 5min Media, an association of online videos, and Thing Labs Inc., a creator of social-networking tools.
Armstrong, who took over AOL last year and spun it off from Time Warner Inc., is trying to revive enlargement after paring down the business. He sold off the social network Bebo and the instant-messaging service ICQ because they failed to attract enough users. Even during yesterday’s attainment spree, AOL announced plans to close another of its sites, the news aggregator Propeller.com.