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Google buys weblogs firm behind Blogger.com

LONDON - Internet search company Google is to acquire a small technology firm Pyra Labs, which helped to jump start the internet 'blogging' phenomenon and is behind the site Blogger.com.

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News of the sale emerged yesterday, having been revealed on the personal blog of Pyra's founder chief executive Evan Williams. Williams confirmed on his personal weblog that his team of six developers would join Google.

Williams wrote: "For Blogger, and for Blogger users, it's going to mean great things, I believe. We're going to be mapping out more clearly what that means and talking about it soon. We don't mean to be mysterious about that. We just haven't had time to put it all together yet. From the personal perspective, my whole life is different."

Weblogs, or "blogs" as they are known, are a form of frequently updated online diaries or commentary and news posted by individuals on just about any subject imaginable, with many devoted to news and politics while others focus on technology, music and film. It is literally a log of the web. The blogs usually feature links to the sites on the internet and invite readers to post comments in response.

For Google, the move marks just the latest foray out of search-related activity. In December, Google launched a shopping service giving users access to online merchants selling the products they want. The service is called Froogle, a pun on the word "frugal". Prior to that, it bought the Deja newsgroup service.

Whether the Google has made any changes to its search engine is unclear, but the first result returned on entering 'blogs' into Google is Blooger.com.

Google is privately owned and is one of the internet's biggest success stories. It draws revenues from selling sponsored links, as well as from lending its technology to other companies, such as Yahoo! and AOL.

Williams described signing with Google as a "dream scenario", giving him access to "not just money, but computer servers, and bandwidth and traffic and incredible brains".

Blogger.com, the flagship site of Pyra Labs, claimed in January that more than 1m users had registered to use its Blogger software, which allows users to create their own blogs.

Pyra Labs was formed in early 1999 by Williams, with funding from, among others, computer publisher O'Reilly & Associates and Conde Nast.

David Krane, Google's director of corporate communications, said: "We're thrilled about the many synergies and future opportunities between our two companies."

He added that Google would now move to the fore of what he described as a global self-publishing phenomenon that connects internet users.

The acquisition by Google is a signal that the mainstream is increasingly noticing blogging. Tripod, the community arm of Terra Lycos, recently launched a "Blog Builder" tool and America Online is expected to have something ready soon, leaving just Yahoo! and Microsoft to join the party.

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