Last week, the rumor spread that a bunch of media and search companies were looking to buy has-been About.com for somewhere between $350 and $500 million (a significant loss for Primedia, the existing owner who paid nearly $700 for the large collection of sites). Well, now (how about that?), the NY Times is reporting that... er... The NY Times has bought About.com for $410 million. At least they broke their own story. Of course, of the potential buyers, the NY Times seemed like the oddest one, as it's not exactly clear what synergies About.com really has with a news organization like the Times who has struggled with its decisions on how to live in an online world. Still, the Times has been known to experiment with the possibilities of online media, and it will be interesting to see if they can come up with a way to make About.com more relevant and useful again. The sites still gets a ton of traffic, and certainly has some good "guides" writing some of the sections -- but it still has the feel of a very top down effort, where you have to wonder if it will be able to keep up with a world where any expert in a field can simply publish about it themselves, or from increasing challenges from any number of new companies trying to build blog-copies of About.com.
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