Blog Acquisitions Signal Tipping Point for User-Generated Content

AOL is betting on user-generated content to help it move away from the ISP business and grow its bottom line, while Verisign is investing in the architecture of the "live Web."

The blogosphere was abuzz with surprise and cautious optimism Thursday with the news that a major blog network and a blog update notification service were being acquired by large media companies. America Online Inc. announced its acquisition of Weblogs Inc., and Verisign Inc. announced their acquisition of

America Onlines purchase was valued at approximately $25 million, and is expected to close next week. There were no immediate figures available for the Verisign purchase, although observers speculate the deal to be worth approximately $2 million.

Verisign confirmed the rumors of its purchase on its company blog.

"We want to see remain what it is, and maintain how it works for the long term," read the Verisign blog entry. "Theres enormous value for the ecosystem in realizing Daves original vision for his ping server: a free, standards-based service that is easy to use, and effective in signaling to the world at large that youve submitted new content into the system."

Dave Winer, founder of, refused to comment.

The AOL deal is the first large-scale blog network acquisition since Google acquired Blogger in 2003. Blogging has only grown in popularity since then. According to a Pew Internet research study, there are over 12,000 blogs published every day., the original blog search service, now tracks over 18.9 million sites. Both Google and Yahoo! have announced blog search tools.

The Verisign acquisition signals the importance of RSS and ping servers to the "live Web." Verisign is betting that ping servers, which notify readers when a site updates, will continue to be an important component of feed-based publishing.

The acquisitions may mark a tipping point in how large media companies value user-generated content.

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