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Washington Post to acquire Microsoft's Slate magazine

LONDON – Microsoft has sold its pioneering eight-year-old online magazine Slate to The Washington Post.

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Launched in 1996, before the dotcom boom had got under way, Slate has survived despite haemorrhaging cash and failing in an early attempt to charge users for content.

Slate, which hit racked up 6m unique users in November, will continue to operate out of its offices in New York and Washington and will become part of the Washington Post's Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive unit. Jacob Weisberg will remain editor of Slate and Cliff Sloan, vice-president of business development at WPNI, will take over as publisher.

Slate was best known for being one of the first online magazines to attract big-name writers and journalists from the print world. It was edited for six years, until 2002, by Michael Kinsley, the former New Republic, Harper's & Queen and Washington Monthly journalist. He joined Microsoft in 1996 to much surprise to launch Slate.

Donald Graham, chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company, said: "Slate has been a pioneer in internet publishing and it is a fine magazine. Founder Michael Kinsley, editor Jacob Weisberg and Microsoft deserve great credit for creating Slate. We couldn't be more enthusiastic about this acquisition."

Slate's audience is deemed to be similar to that of Washingtonpost.com and Newsweek.com, which together reported revenues of $44.7m (£23.2m) for the first nine months of 2004. WPNI's online display advertising revenues grew 59% for the first nine months of 2004.

According Weisberg, said: "I couldn't be more excited about this move. Microsoft has been a wonderful home for us since 1996. It's clear, though, that The Washington Post Company is the best place for Slate to continue to grow and develop."

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