AOL Buys Contextual Search Firm Sphere

AOL (TWX) continued its acquisitions binge by snapping up San Francisco-based Sphere Source for a sum TechCrunch puts in the $25 million range. Launched as a blog search engine in 2005, Sphere re-tooled to provide tools for publishers to provide links to related stories, video, photos and blog content. The results are displayed in a pop-over window, adjacent search results, or an integrated widget. Publishers using the service include the Wall Street Journal, Time, Reuters and CNN.

Sphere will operate as an owned subsidiary and report to the programming division of AOL, headed by EVP Bill Wilson. Like Truveo, AOL says the company will remain intact; Kara Swisher, for one, hopes it doesn’t “fall into one of AOL’s deep holes there.” The company was founded in 2005 and raised $4.24 million from Radar Partners, Trident Capital, Scott Kurnit and Will Hearst.

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