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|Type of site||Online resource|
|Alexa rank||86 (February 2013[update])|
About.com is an online resource site. The site's content, which consists of articles, online courses, and multimedia, are organized into channels consisting of various topics, which are authored and maintained by freelance writers referred to as "Guides". The site's main competition include other online resource sites, and online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.
About.com was acquired by The New York Times Company in February 2005, who 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.
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The Guides' sites consist of articles or commentaries written by the Guides as well as links to pertinent websites related to their topic. Some sites have dictionaries, how-to lessons, and free eCourses. For example, the sites on major European languages have comprehensive lessons illustrated by audio files recorded by the Guides themselves.
Each Guide's site has at least one forum, provided at the Advanced level (with HTML capability and uploading), for registered users. Site visitors may subscribe to free email newsletters for each site. Some Guides participate daily at the forum.
About.com was 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 eventually reduced to 700. The original business plan offered expert Guides a minimum rate of $250 a month or one-third of the advertising revenue generated within their topic area. The Mining Company also employed around 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 over 40% of its topic-sites in 2002. Most of the eliminated sites were not merged, and their contents are 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 that 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 full-owned editorial product by The New York Times to enter China. About.com said it would obey all laws and sidestepped the issue of censorship by saying 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, Darline 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 80% 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 dollars 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.
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- about.com's Site Profile
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