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MSNBC.com Buys EveryBlock

By: 17 August 2009

MSNBC.com, the Seattle-based entity co-owned by Microsoft and NBC, has acquired EveryBlock, Adrian Holovaty’s hyperlocal site. The price was apparently “several million dollars,” per reports.

The six-person site, an outgrowth of Holovaty’s Chicagocrime.org, is a leading-edge example of “mapping journalism.” It maps street-by-street and neighborhood data and content for wide-ranging categories, although it has a special focus on government data, such as parking tickets. The site currently collects data and content for 15 markets: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

While EveryBlock takes a unique approach, it is poised to compete with other hyperlocal sites such as Outside.in, Topix.net, Placeblogger and Patch.com (acquired by AOL this summer for $10 million).

EveryBlock has been funded by the Knight Foundation with $1.1 million, but the two-year funding ran out early this summer. It does not appear to have pursued a serious revenue model.

According to a blog post written by Holovaty, MSNBC.com has agreed to keep the staff intact and in his hometown of Chicago. Holovaty also blogs that he hasn’t been able to do even “5 percent” of what he eventually wants to do with the site, so he looks forward to the teamwork and resources that MSNBC.com may provide.

MSNBC.com (which is a separate entity from the MSNBC cable TV net) currently has a local news section on its site, including videos from NBC affiliates and headlines from local media entities. It is apparently not otherwise involved with NBC’s increasingly ambitious local portal sites, which are outgrowths of its TV stations.

The opportunity to merge with Microsoft’s Bing maps appears to be a large one here.  Holovaty is well known as the first newspaper executive with dual degrees in journalism and computer science, and he has plied his talents with innovative projects for The Washington Post and The Lawrence Journal-World.

One Comment

One Comment »

  • peter kenneth said:

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