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Breaking: Condé Nast/Wired Acquires Ars Technica
by Michael Arrington on May 16, 2008

Condé Nast has acquired popular technology blog Ars Technica (ranked #5 all time on the BloggerBoard), we’ve confirmed. The site will become part of Wired Digital (which in turn is under CondéNet, run by Sarah Chubb). Wired Digital assets include Wired.com and Reddit (acquired in 2006). The acquisition price will not be disclosed, but our sources say it is in the $25 million range, which is what Condé Nast paid for Wired.com in 2006.

Effectively, Ars Technica is now part of Wired. Look for an official announcement next week.

This marks a new beginning for Ars Technica, which was originally founded in 1998 by Ken “Caesar” Fisher (based in Boston) and Jon “Hannibal” Stokes (based in Chicago). They, along with their 8 or so employees, will remain with the company as it is integrated into Wired Digital.

Comscore says Ars Technica has just 1.5 million monthly unique visitors and 4 million page views, but our understanding is that the actual number of unique visitors to the site is around 4.5 million. The audience demographic is very similar to Wired, although our sources say the overlap is relatively small.

This is also another lost customer for Federated Media Publishing, which sells advertising for Ars Technica (Digg left Federated Media last year to accept a very lucrative Microsoft deal that will pay out over $100 million over three years). CondéNet will now take over advertising sales.

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Responses

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  • big news …. i don’t think so ……

  • exiting. first?

  • Wow, congrats to Ars. Wonder what everyone will look like going into the future. Seem actually like very distinct brands right now.

  • It’s rollup time!

    Michael – its time for big blog post on how MSM is buying new media and most importantly who will be next.

  • No personal commentary? This should make Wired’s tech coverage second to none.

  • (in auctioneer voice)

    Let the bidding for Techcrunch commence …

    Fifty … sixty … do I hear seventy million? 85 just phoned in …

  • Wow, I can’t say I saw this one coming…

    This should spur some interesting discussions this weekend.

    Cheers,
    Aidan
    http://www.MappingTheWeb.com

  • I think this is great. I hope this kind of trend continues. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the site will get “ruined” but I bet the owner is excited. Who wouldn’t want $2.5 million per year over the last ten years he put into the site?

  • This makes the sell of WeblogsInc for $25 million look very low. Calacanis sold too early.

  • Wow. Congrats to the guys at Ars, I think they deserve it. I hope Wired doesn’t water it down. Ars is known for having some very in-deth tech, and I would hate to see that go.

  • Congrats to the Ars team. Always a curious thing when a big rag aquires a tech blog — hope they don’t change too much.

  • Be interesting to see how they roll this into the existing blogs…or just let it run and get the ad rev.

  • I still can’t quite wrap my head around the valuations of blogs.

  • Props to Ars Technica, a great site and one of the reasons I got a job at Intel. The quality of work there is exceptional, particularly their linux and apple coverage.

    Perhaps this is a sign that TechCunrch will be getting a payday soon? We’re hoping for you, Mike and all! Congrats to Ars.

  • Wow, there sure have been a lot of acquisitions over the last week! Wow.

  • Somebody needs to do a blog post on how smaller, more tightly niched blogs and smaller networks are worth more dough than bigger ones. The bigger you are the more expense accounts, salaries and other bullcrap you have around your neck. How much VC money did Ars Tech take in? Zero. How many blogs does Ars have? One. Meanwhile bigger networks are having trouble shopping themselves for pennies on the dollar. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

  • anonymous coward - May 16th, 2008 at 1:56 pm UTC

    doesn’t make sense. wired’s a very good site. ars is crapola

  • BREAKING: HIRING FREEZE ACROSS SILICON VALLEY, MASS LAY OFFS NEXT

    Not a recruiter job to be found in the valley. going to be worse the 2000

  • Wooow… very interesting market… congratulations! 8-)

  • maybe they’ll finally start linking out and acknowledging story sources for a change

  • @ JeffWillis

    Well it’s not ironic that people are congratulating Ars and not Wired and especially not Conde Nast.

  • Wow. I’ve been a huge fan of Ars for several years, and a PAYING subscriber (for access to certain parts of the forum community, but mostly to show them my support with my wallet) since 2001.

    The “news” part of the site, the front page, has always been OK, and lately has bloomed into one of the best tech news sources out there (and I’m not just saying that because I’m friends with several of the writers and editors).

    But the forum and community there have always been the heart of Ars. They are my “gold standard” for how to do an online tech community. Amazing signal to noise ratio, fun, friendly, super-knowledgeable people. Before we all started saying “if Google doesn’t know it, nobody knows it”, I was saying “if Ars doesn’t know it, nobody knows it.”

    I have to admit that my fear is Wired will do something to screw up this forum community. Overrun the place with ads (it has them already, but they’re tasteful and non-obtrusive), do something to the forum software that breaks it or makes it even more unstable (the load the Ars forums puts on its host is absolutely massive), or something worse.

    I hope this all works out. Congrats to Ken, Jon, Jacqui, Clint, Ben, David, and all the rest of the Ars crew. Hope you get a nice fat cut, and get to keep rocking the tech coverage!

  • @Steven Hodson: I couldn’t agree more. There’s been several occasions where I would have appreciated even the slightest bit of attribution.

    Still, that’s an incredible valuation. Congrats to Ars for pulling this one off.

  • I was also a subscriber, although I stopped once it was clear they were going to be able to self-support.

    Here’s the discussion thread, including the inevitable hand-wringing:

    http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/34709834/m/972009922931

  • Michael where’s the requisite Wired bashing in this post? I was waiting for it but was disappointed.

  • Man in the Valley - May 16th, 2008 at 2:21 pm UTC

    Ars Technica is one of my favorite sites, so I am happy to see them rewarded for their efforts.

    I am not happy about Ars being part of Wired though, but I called a friend who works at Wired (name withheld) and she tells me that Ars and Wired will stay distinct. I hope she is right, because combining the two would be a dumbass idea.

  • 1. Buy WIRED.
    2. Destroy its technical content.
    3. Get WIRED to buy Ars Technica.

    Wonder what comes next, eh?

  • hey mike,

    you must be banging your head against the wall. first cnet, now ars? wassa matter? nobody left to buy you? LOL

  • This is the week of media buy-outs. Very interesting.

  • Wow! Congrats to Kourosh!
    He’s kicking ass.

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