AOL Acquires Financial News Search Company

In its fifth acquisition of 2006, AOL on Wednesday said it has purchased a financial news and information search technology company. The Relegence Corporation will now join the AOL family.

The Internet division of Time Warner closed the deal to buy out the privately-held Relegence on Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1999, Relegence sells subscription-based services that offer real-time discovery, notification and delivery of information. The service connects customers to cross-media content as it is generated.

“This acquisition is a perfectly timed enhancement and complement to our Web services strategy, where content management for Web publishing will be a critical component of delivering the best experience for our users,” said Jim Bankoff, Executive Vice President, Consumer & Publisher services, AOL.

Custom-Fit News

Using proprietary technology, Relegence simultaneously monitors, indexes, and filters more than 20,000 global sources of live content streams — such as local and international newswires, print media, television and cable networks, regulatory feeds, corporate and information Web sites, and Internet bulletin boards. The technology then delivers to a user’s desktop only the information which is relevant to his or her individual search criteria.

Relegence can also integrate internal content streams and programming with external content to create a tool for users to manage mission-critical information in their day-to-day activities.

The company and its 60 employees will continue to be headquartered in New York, with offices in London and Tel Aviv, Israel. It will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL, and will continue to partner with and serve its financial services firm client base.

Beefing Up Content

Relegence is AOL’s fifth announced acquisition of 2006, following Userplane and GameDaily in August, Lightningcast in May, and Truveo in January. AOL’s 2005 acquisitions included MusicNow, Weblogs, Xdrive and Wildseed.

AOL is making moves to beef up its content offerings in the face of stiffening competition, according to Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with In-Stat Group. With major television networks making aggressive moves online, AOL has some formidable competitors, he noted.

“The network that everybody is concerned with the most is Fox Television and the fact that they own,” Kaufhold told the E-Commerce times. “Fox also owns MyNetworkTV, which runs telenovelas. They make their actors and writers available for chat on MySpace and really cultivate the young female audience.”

The Youngsters

AOL used to own the younger demographic, which rushed home from high school to IM their friends. Now, Fox is encroaching on that territory with offline television programming, like reality TV shows and “The Simpsons,” and an online channel in MySpace that targets the young, irreverent crowd.

AOL is aggressively defending its position with corporate restructuring and greater content awareness.

“It’s going to take AOL some time to get there, but if they can execute and keep responding to what happens competitively, they can become a leader once again,” Kaufhold said. “I would not rule out some type of real strong partnership with some TV network down the road. That’s one of the pieces of the puzzle that they need.”

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