The New York Times Co. has struck a deal to sell About.com, the wide-ranging reference and how-to site stocked with articles by freelancers, to Answers.com for $270 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The transaction, which is still being completed, was reported earlier today by All Things D.
Share in The Times Co. climbed 9.7% on the news, which will let the company salvage a portion of its ill-fated bet on the website. The Times co. bought About.com for $410 million in 2005. The site's revenue fell 8.7% to $25.4 million last quarter, and it posted an operating loss of $186.8 million as The Times Co. wrote down the value of the business by $194.7 million.
About.com and other sites filled with high volumes of low-cost content are also especially dependent on search traffic, a factor that came into play when Google tweaked its algorithm in an effort to elevate high-quality content in search results. About.com was among the sites that saw traffic decline as a result.
Selling the site would also further the New York Times' strategy of offloading businesses to tighten its focus on the New York Times media brand and pay down debt. It sold its stake in Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox, for a total of $93 million this year and completed the sale of its regional newspaper division for $143 million. The publisher still owns the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette newspapers.
Answers.com, a similar site that calls itself "the most trusted place for answering life's questions," was founded in 1998. The St. Louis-based company didn't respond to requests for comment.
The Times Co. had climbed 4.5% this year before today.
-- Bloomberg News --