AOL buys gdgt

In an attempt to become the biggest content portal in the world AOL (previously known as America Online) have now bought gadget site gdgt. This is interesting because they already own Engadget, one of the biggest gadget related sites. Even more interesting is that Ryan Block and Peter Rojas started Engadget back in 2004 and then sold the company to AOL.

Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal, but TechCrunch (another AOL-owned tech-centric site) notes that it was in the “high seven figures.” Intriguingly, TechCrunch also reports that GDGT passed on a higher offer in favor of AOL. Rumors about AOL buying GDGT have been around since 2011, and TechCrunch also reported that a deal was in the works a few weeks ago.

The acquisition brings GDGT’s founders back into the AOL fold and gives AOL engineering and design chops as well as a database of tech products linked up with site members that either own or want to buy those products — making it a potentially valuable resource for advertisers or marketers.

For me the most interesting aspect is that many see this as a reaction to ex Engadget editor Josh Topolsky’s website “The Verge”. AOL desperately needs the gdgt tech team to create a site that looks half as good as Topolsky’s excellent site.

Whether the two sites merge or continue to feed off another is debatable but I think AOL has a problem. Quite simply they have the following portals:

  • Engadget
  • gdgt
  • Huffington Post Tech
  • Techcrunch

That’s a lot of tech eyeballs and now you’ve got various sales teams cannibalising ad spend from each others sites. As an advertiser it’s quite difficult to see major differentiation between the various sites. If I were Samsung it wouldn’t really make a difference to me where I put my ads, the eyeballs are probably the same.

I think we can all agree that AOL has reached the pinnacle of tech site ownership and it’s time to stop acquiring and focus on some other niches. Move on AOL, you’re only going to hurt yourself.

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