free html hit counter UPDATED: It's Official - Bloglines Sold to Ask - John Battelle's Search Blog

UPDATED: It's Official – Bloglines Sold to Ask

By - February 07, 2005


If you recall my 2004 predictions, I claimed Bloglines would be sold to a major search engine. I just didn’t think it would be Ask. But come to think of it, it’s a good fit – Yahoo is well on their way toward the Bloglines space with its integration of MyYahoo RSS, and Google, well, Google doesn’t seem to have the appetite for RSS many wish it did. MSFT is busy getting its index up to speed.

“Ask was the best fit,” Mark Fletcher told me last week. “They have a multi-brand strategy – we will not be going away.”

Fletcher, who together with Larry’s brother Carl Page and a few others sold his other company – eGroups – to Yahoo back in the golden era for a whole lotta dough – does not need to sell. So his choice of Ask is instructive. “Ask got it,” he proclaimed, indicating others were in the hunt but did not, er, get it. “We had a lot of choices, and this one made the most sense.”

So, I asked Jim Lanzone, Ask’s head of search and the architect of the deal, what are you going to do with Bloglines? “Our plan is to leave it alone for now,” Lanzone answered. “We’ll integrate it across properties, but if it never makes us a dime directly, it will make money for us indirectly.”

In other words, Bloglines is growing like a weed, has tons of users, and more interestingly, tons of data about what those users read. Those profiles might make for some serious endemic advertising plays down the road. Both Fletcher and Lanzone concur. “The profile a user makes on Bloglines is a pretty good proxy for a user’s interest,” Lanzone said. “But step one is to let Mark blow it out, and see where it goes.”

So don’t expect any AdWords or other monetization, at least at first, and not in your face. Lanzone took pains to make sure I understood that *he* understood he has a good thing, and doesn’t want to f*ck it up.

One thing that will come out of this, Lanzone said, is “world class blog search.” Stay tuned, Ask is getting interesting…

Bloglines site about the deal…and Ask’s blog post

PS – No, I don’t know how much Bloglines was sold for, Ask and Mark are not saying. However, I am sure it was not a trivial number. Mark would not give me user metrics, but it’s in the hundreds of thousands, if not past a million. How valuable is that to a search platform? In a word, very. I’d be surprised if the deal was less than $25 million. But what do I know? Nothing. Sure, Bloglines has no revenue. None, zip, nada. So much can and probably will be made of the fact that this was yet another sign of an impending bubble. But…then again, Bloglines has more than 280 million blog posts in that index. That’s a lot of data….and a lot of profiles of its hundreds of thousands of users. That’s worth something, quite a bit of something….

UPDATE: My dangling of the $25 million number out there has gotten a number of responses – from parties that are in reasonable positions to know. I am told the figure is closer to $14 million or so. I can’t confirm this…yet, but there you go.

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5 thoughts on “UPDATED: It's Official – Bloglines Sold to Ask

  1. Thomas Hawk says:

    Well Mary Hodder denied that she was asked to keep this news a secret yesterday but it would appear that John Battelle certainly can keep a secret. Nice post time 10:07 after the official 10:00 p.m. release on Bloglines.

  2. Doug Mehus says:

    $25 million seems a bit rich for a company with barely (if any) revenue and no profits. Given that Google acquired Blogger for less than $10 million in cash and stock (according to SEC filings), I would estimate that the Bloglines acquisition was between $7 and $15 million. (We’re in a bit of a search-related “bubble” that we weren’t in in 2003 when Google made its Blogger play, so I’ve applied a bit of a premium in arriving at the $7-15 million figure.)

    John, Ask Jeeves will probably be required to disclose the purchase in its next quarterly report. So we will know soon enough, I would suspect.


  3. Ron McDonald says:

    I glad they got a good price. I just don’t understand where Ask is going with this one. I saw this in and didn’t see any price information, but even $14M seems high. Who knew…I’ve seen stranger things.

  4. DeWitt says:

    “Mark would not give me user metrics, but it’s in the hundreds of thousands, if not past a million.”

    I was trying to figure out the same thing the other day, and here was what I came up with:

    Bloglines’ most popular feed (Slashdot) has 24,347 subscribers. And the user directory has 23,095 people in it.

    It’s unclear whether or not the user directory only has people with public blogrolls (the default, I believe), but either way, how did you deduce “past a million” users?

    That’s not to diminish Mark’s excellent work — Bloglines is a great service, and I wish him all the best with Ask.

  5. anonymous says:

    I heard that Flickr turned down a $20 million offer from Yahoo. Then there were rumors that they had gone back and accepted something in the low 20’s but nothing’s been annouced. Given that bloglines had fewer investors it makes sense that it went for $14 million.