CNN in talks to acquire Mashable for as much as $200m

It is being reported that CNN is in late stage talks to acquire social news and technology website Mashable for as much as $200m. If true it will be one of the last big independent blogs to be snapped up by a larger media owner. AOL bought the Huffington Post for $315m last year and in 2010 it also snapped up TechCrunch for around $30m.

Mashable pulls in a considerably larger audience than Techcrunch hence the speculated $200m price tag, which could herald a multimillion pound pay day for British founder Pete Cashmore.

With its frequent “top 10″ lists and near universal coverage of all things social media Mashable has built up an estimated audience of 17  million unique visitors per month compared to Techcrunch’s 7.5 million, according Google Ad Planner.

Reuters journalist Felix Salmon reported last night (see video below) that a CNN acquisition of Mashable could be announced tomorrow.

However, CNN only comment has been that it does “not engage in speculation about our business and we aren’t commenting on these reports”.

The New York Times, quoting sources, suggests there is still a chance that the deal might not happen and other sources have hinted that there will be “no announcement this week”.

However, as with both Techcrunch and the Huffington Post early reports of deals proved to be correct:

“The people with knowledge of the talks insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak by their employers. It is possible that the acquisition will not be completed, some of the people cautioned.

“Nonetheless, news of the potential acquisition spread rapidly among attendees at South by Southwest, a technology conference here that celebrates the kind of old-and-new-media combination that CNN and Mashable would represent. Both companies have big groups of staffers at the conference and both have been hosting parties, sometimes with other media partners.

Mashable, which is seven years old and is privately held, would be CNN.com’s largest acquisition to date. Last fall, CNN.com acquired Zite, a company that made an iPad app that determines what its users want to read and view, for a price that was estimated to be between $20 million and $25 million. Mashable would cost CNN far more to acquire,” according to the New York Times.

Cashmore founded Mashable in 2005 and has turned the site into the world’s most high profile social news site.

Mashable is already a CNN partner site and its content features on CNN.com. As well as its estimated 17 million monthly visitors, Mashable has more than 2.7 million followers on Twitter and 840,000 fans on Facebook.

A hint that there might be some truth in the acquisition story came from Adam Ostrow, who is an the executive editor of Mashable. He  gave a Facebook “like” to Salmon’s Reuters story, but did not comment further.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ajowmrii9RQ#!