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Originally published October 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 10, 2007 at 2:42 PM

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MSNBC.com buys startup that lets users decide what's news

Two Seattle-based pioneers in the delivery of news on the Internet are teaming up. MSNBC.com, the joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, is...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Two Seattle-based pioneers in the delivery of news on the Internet are teaming up.

MSNBC.com, the joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, is purchasing Newsvine, a startup that enlists "citizen" journalists to post and comment on mainstream media stories, and write articles of their own.

It's the first acquisition in Redmond-based MSNBC.com's 11-year history. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Newsvine's investors, who were happy about the deal, put up $1.5 million to get the service going two years ago.

Newsvine will remain unchanged as a result of the acquisition, and MSNBC.com will look at incorporating certain Newsvine features as it seeks to build community participation into its general news site.

"We think the two go together very well, and as we see research that shows that active news users go to many Web sites and are not beholden to just one, we want to be able to offer that diversity of choices to our users," said MSNBC.com Publisher and President Charlie Tillinghast.

Newsvine, which has six full-time employees, relies on its community of users — it has about 1 million unique visitors a month — to determine what's news.

"Articles make their way onto the front page in an editorless fashion based on what's popular, what's important and what people are looking to read," said Mike Davidson, the company's co-founder and chief executive.

In addition to viewing stories from mainstream media outlets such as The Associated Press, The New York Times and ESPN, users can publish their own articles to the Newsvine site.

Tillinghast acknowledged that MSNBC.com will have to be careful with how it presents user-generated content from Newsvine, making sure to mark it as such.

"At the same time ... there can be some excellent work of users who start out on Newsvine," Tillinghast said. "We want to take a look at that objectively and say this is some fantastic content and we gotta get it up on MSNBC and not really use the citizen-contribution designation as anything to mean that it's not good stuff."

Mike Slade, a co-founder of investment firm Second Avenue Partners, which was the main investor in Newsvine, said "several" media companies were interested in acquiring it.

He said MSNBC.com will benefit from Newsvine's ability to innovate quickly. The fact that both companies are local helped smooth the deal, too, he said.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com

Information in this story, originally published on October 8, 2007 was corrected on October 10, 2007. The story about MSNBC.com's acquisition of Newsvine incorrectly described traffic to Newsvine's site. The site has about 1 million unique visitors a month.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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