|Founded||May 1, 1997(as The Mining Company)|
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Key people||Neil Vogel
About.com is a website that focuses on providing information about a wide range of subjects. It consists of articles and videos that are organized in several sections of various topics, authored and maintained by freelance writers labelled 'experts'. The site, visited each month by approximately 90 million users, competes with other online resource sites and encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.
About.com was acquired by The New York Times Company in February 2005, which later announced plans to sell the site to IAC, owners of Ask.com and the Reference.com network, for $300 million. The acquisition closed on September 24, 2012.
About.com's nearly 1,000 freelance writers (called Experts) provide information on many topics, such as cooking, parenting, healthcare, travel, languages and more.
Originally founded in 1996 as the Mining Company, the site was launched on April 21, 1997 by Scott Kurnit, owner of General Internet; Bill Day and a group of other entrepreneurs in New York City. The original goal was to maintain 1,800 topic areas, but after five years of operation, this number was reduced to 700. The original business plan offered writers a minimum rate of $250 a month or one-third of the advertising revenue generated within their topic area. The Mining Company also employed approximately 50 full-time staff for administration, advertising sales and the overall site-design work.
The company changed its name to About, Inc. and the website address from miningco.com to about.com in May 1999. The renaming was partly to broaden the appeal of the site and the instant brand equity during the Internet bubble of using a simple word followed by dot-com as both site address and company name. The company was acquired by Primedia in 2000 in a deal that valued About at $690 million.
About.com eliminated more than 40% of its topic-sites in 2002. Most of the eliminated sites were not merged and their contents became no longer accessible to the general public. However, the rights to the material remained with the original authors and some of it has appeared on other websites.
In February 2005, the New York Times Company announced it was buying About.com, a purchase that was completed in the first half of the year for $410 million. Google along with Yahoo, AskJeeves, and AOL were reportedly among the other bidders. In May 2005, the New York Times Company named Scott Meyer as president and CEO of About.com.
On May 7, 2007, About.com acquired ConsumerSearch for $33 million. In January 2008, the site's first fully owned foreign venture, the China-based Abang.com, debuted. This marked the first fully owned editorial product by The New York Times to enter China. About.com said it would obey all laws and that the chosen topics were not controversial to the government of China.
In July 2011, Darline Jean was named CEO of the About Group replacing Cella Irvine who left the company in May 2011. Prior to being named CEO, Jean served as CFO of the company. In June 2008, The New York Times Company named Cella M. Irvine as CEO of the About Group. Irvine's appointment fills a seat that had been empty since March 2008 when CEO Scott Meyer left to head Evidon, the parent company of Ghostery.
The domain about.com attracted at least 448 million visitors annually by 2008 according to an estimate by Compete.com, a web traffic analysis service. Approximately 90% of users are redirected to About.com from search engines.
In 2011, About.com launched About en Español, a channel of more than 100 sites in Spanish aimed at U.S. Hispanics.
On August 8, 2012, reports surfaced that Answers.com had reached a preliminary agreement to acquire About.com for $270 million. However, on August 26, Barry Diller's IAC announced that it would acquire About.com instead for $300 million in cash. In a press release announcing the acquisition, IAC announced its intent to use the acquisition to help bolster and accompany its existing properties, such as its search engine Ask.com.
On April 2, 2013, Neil Vogel took over as CEO of About.com. Prior to About.com, Neil Vogel helped to build Recognition Media’s business from the ground up, launching, acquiring and growing media and awards properties such as the Webby Awards ("The Oscars of the Internet"), Internet Week NY and Europe, the Netted.net daily email and The Telly Awards.
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