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CNN in Talks to Acquire Mashable, Sources Say

Brian Stelter
Monday, 12 Mar 2012 | 8:45 AM ET
Mashable.com
Source: Mashable.com
Mashable.com

CNN, a unit of Time Warner, and Mashable are in advanced talks that may lead to an acquisition of the social news Web site, three people with knowledge of the talks said.

Mashable, which specializes in stories about technology and social media, could bolster CNN.com, which is one of the most popular news Web sites in the United States. An acquisition of Mashable would make a statement about CNN’s interest in startups and social media.

A blogger for Reuters, Felix Salmon, reported on Sunday night that a CNN acquisition of Mashable could be announced on Tuesday. Early Monday morning, officials at CNN denied that an announcement would be made on Tuesday and declined to comment on the potential acquisition; a spokeswoman for Mashable also declined to comment.

The people with knowledge of the talks insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak by their employers. It is possible that the acquisition will not be completed, some of the people cautioned.

Nonetheless, news of the potential acquisition spread rapidly among attendees at South by Southwest, a technology conference here that celebrates the kind of old-and-new-media combination that CNN and Mashable would represent. Both companies have big groups of staffers at the conference and both have been hosting parties, sometimes with other media partners.

Mashable, which is seven years old and is privately held, would be CNN.com’s largest acquisition to date. Last fall, CNN.com acquired Zite, a company that made an iPad app that determines what its users want to read and view, for a price that was estimated to be between $20 million and $25 million. Mashable would cost the company far more to acquire.

Mashable is best-known in Internet circles for covering social media and technology, though it has expanded recently to include business and entertainment coverage. It has hired aggressively and has partnered with a number of mainstream news sites, including CNN and ABC News. CNN already syndicates some of its stories.

There was a social media hint about the potential acquisition early Monday morning when Adam Ostrow, the executive editor of Mashable, “liked” on Facebook Mr. Salmon’s story for Reuters. Mr. Ostrow did not respond to a request for comment.

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