I’m hearing that gdgt (pronounced ‘gadget’), the consumer electronics review site founded by Engadget co-founder Peter Rojas and former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block, is in late-stage acquisition talks with AOL. Sources tell me that a deal appears to be nearing closure in a matter of days.
I’ve reached out both to gdgt and to executives at AOL for confirmation or comment, but have not yet received a response. The latter is kind of awkward because they are technically my co-workers and/or superiors (disclosure: AOL owns TechCrunch,) but it is par for the course when it comes to M&A rumors. Also, it feels a bit strange to report on deals that are being worked on within my own (really big) company, but this is the word I’m hearing — and in the end, after all, news is news.
Gdgt’s parent company PastFuture has raised some $3.7 million from investors including Spark Capital, True Ventures, betaworks, AOL Ventures, Lerer Ventures, and others. The company has a staff of about 20. This is not the first time the company has been in sale talks — the company has reportedly received interest from CBS, Amazon, and CNET over the years. That of course means that this deal may not pan out, but I’m told that the current talks are indeed very serious.
The thing here is that AOL buying gdgt would bring some of the most influential people from the past decade or so of gadget blogging back under its roof. Block and Rojas left Engadget and AOL back in 2008 to begin working on what became gdgt, and their departures ended up being just the start of what became known as an “Engadget exodus” that many saw as damaging to the site (and a sign that AOL couldn’t keep its tech writers around, something that’s turned out to be a recurring theme of sorts.) But now, AOL seems to be trying to reverse that reputation.
Update: Engadget Editor in Chief Tim Stevens was foolish enough to swing by the TechCrunch office, so we asked him for a comment. He said, “We respect GDGT, we’ve been using their databox for the past year and a half, but I couldn’t comment on a possible acquisition.”