AOL To Announce Acquisition of Sphere Tomorrow. It Was Inevitable That Someone Bought This Amazing Startup.

Posted Apr 14, 2008

Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) subsidiary, AOL LLC is announcing that they are acquiring Sphere tomorrow. Sphere is a service that is best known for finding related content and blog posts to specific articles and placing links to them in a widget form. You can find Sphere’s widgets on Pulse 2.0, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, GigaOM and TechCrunch.

The rumor is that Sphere will be selling for $25 million. Tony Conrad, the CEO of Sphere is serious and professional about his San Francisco, Calif.-based company. How do I know this? Because he personally e-mailed me to make sure that it was working perfectly on Pulse 2.0.

“Hi Amit – my apologies for the long wait to get the contextual widget code snippet. We got a bit slammed following Web 2.0 but have finally built a plug-in that works in WordPress Self Hosted blogs. Since you’re running WordPress (a great choice!) we wanted to put you in front of the queue to try out our new SphereIt Contextual Widget Plug-in for WordPress,” wrote Tony in the e-mail he sent me around January 2007.

Best customer service I’ve seen yet in the world of Web 2.0. Congratulations Tony, the Sphere team, and AOL!

Bill Wilson, an EVP of AOL Programming will be overseeing Sphere’s integration into AOL content properties. AOL content properities include Weblogs Inc., Finance, and Entertainment. Sphere will not be changing its brand. Sphere took in $3.5 million in funding across two rounds of funding.

I’m wondering if there’s a way to integrate Sphere with AOL Instant Messenger. I’m guessing that Sphere will be plugged into Weblogs Inc. blog network following the acquisition.

Disclaimer: Sphere is one of my most favorite startups of it’s time.

Information Sources:
[1] GigaOM:  Personal Note: Conrad Got Mailed by Om Malik
[2] TechCrunch:  AOL Buys Sphereâ??s Blog Content Engine by Michael Arrington
[3] Sphere blog: Our New Address @ AOL.COM by Tony Conrad