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AOL Buys Sphere

AOL has acquired Sphere, a San Francisco-based provider of contextual search tools that offers content to online publishers. No financial terms were disclosed. Sphere was founded in 2005, and has raised just over $4 million in VC funding from True Ventures, Trident Capital and Hearst Corp. Angels backers included Doug Mackenzie, David Mahoney, Kevin Compton, Mike Winton, Phil Black, Vince Vannelli and Will Hearst.



AOL today announced that it has acquired Sphere Source, Inc., a leading provider of contextual-search tools which offers related content to publishers. Sphere will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL as part of the company's Programming division, which is led by Executive Vice President Bill Wilson.


Founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, Sphere uses its contextual-search platform technology to make connections between content from blogs, video, media, photos and advertisements. These contextual results are then displayed in a pop-over window or an integrated widget that lets publishers enhance articles by incorporating related articles and blog posts from archived content and across the Web.


Prior to the acquisition, AOL partnered with Sphere to offer its widget technology on AOL News,, and the myAOL service, Mgnet, Sphere's third-party network includes more than 50,000 content publishers and blogs and is live on an average of more than 2 billion article pages across the web every month.*


“Our focus at AOL is providing consumers relevant content wherever they are on the Web, and Sphere's capabilities fit in perfectly with this effort. Not only will it let us enhance content on our own sites, it will let us distribute our content across Sphere's growing third-party publisher network,” said Ron Grant, President and COO of AOL. “In addition, this acquisition provides AOL with access to advertising inventory across Sphere's network, while growing its reach to content publishers via the widget.”


“We are delighted to be joining AOL,” said Tony Conrad, CEO of Sphere. “AOL's vast properties and platforms offer us the opportunity to reach publishing and news environments across the Web.”


Sphere was founded by Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, Steve Nieker and Toni Schneider. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


*Source: internal Sphere data


About Sphere Source, Inc.

Founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, Sphere is focused on providing products that connect mainstream and conversational media content. Sphere's contextual-search platform technology connects online content from blogs, video, media, photos and advertisements. More information can be found at


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