John Battelle raises $50 million as AOL snatches away his prize

For once, tech publisher John Battelle has timed a bubble just right. With Wired, where he was a founding editor, he was too early; with The Industry Standard, the tech weekly which crashed and burned early in this decade, a bit too late. But with Federated Media, he's proved his dealmaking prowess. He's all but nailed what we hear is $40 million to $50 million in venture capital for the online-ad network , on a $200 million valuation. And this right before AOL bought Sphere, a blog search engine which, by a rough count, serves more than half of the pageviews Battelle sells to advertisers.

The problem with running a network is that you don't own the pageviews, and websites can always bolt, or be sold. It's hard to imagine AOL won't switch that inventory over to its Platform-A ad network as soon as it can. Not all pageviews are created equal. Sphere's blog-search inventory likely garnered less revenue than some of the high-prestige tech blogs Battelle represents. Still, this is the kind of thing one is happier to have investors learn about after they've committed their money, not before.