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Clearspring buys AddThis Web sharing service

September 30, 2008 | 12:13 pm

ClearspringClearspring Technologies says it just bought the biggest little thing on the Web.

The McLean, Va.-based company, which connects publishers and advertisers to audiences, is trying to generate more traffic by buying AddThis for an undisclosed amount. AddThis, from a Princeton, N.J. company of the same name, puts those little icons for Digg, Facebook, MySpace and other online services on hundreds of thousands of websites, including Time magazine and TechCrunch. So if you're reading a story you want to submit to Digg or post on your Facebook page, you click the icon.

Whether buying AddThis will eventually help Clearspring make money is not yet clear.

Ted Leonsis, a former AOL big shot who serves as chairman of the Clearspring board, and Clearspring Chief Executive Hooman Radfar say the deal adds up. Clearspring makes it easy for consumers to move content between websites. AddThis makes it easy for consumers to save and share Web pages. Clearspring estimates that together the two services will reach more than 200 million users.

"We view social media, as does the industry, as the next big thing where the consumers get to control their media consumption," Leonsis said.

Clearspring should have plenty of runway. Since it was founded in 2004, the company has raised more than $35 million from such investors as former AOL chieftain Steve Case and New Enterprise Associates. And, Leonsis says, its customers already include NBC, Paramount and the NBA.

An example of Clearspring technology: Leonsis' project, SnagFilms, a new online service that allows anyone to embed documentary films on blogs, websites or social networking pages and show them for free. Leonsis, who is also a documentary film producer, took over AOL's TrueStories service and turned it into SnagFilms.

-- Jessica Guynn