The deal, which was first reported by GigaOm founder Om Malik Monday, was signed by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington (pictured) on Tuesday morning at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
"Michael and his colleagues have made the TechCrunch network a byword for breaking tech news and insight into the innovative world of startups, and their reputation for top-class journalism precisely matches AOL's commitment to delivering the expert content critical to this audience," Armstrong said in a statement.
Over the last five years, Arrington has built TechCrunch into one of the most influential blogs covering technology. His first major scoop was reporting that Google was in talks to pay $1.65 billion for YouTube, a deal that shocked the media and tech world. (The New York Post had previously reported that the YouTube was for sale for at least $1.5 billion, despite claims to the contrary by YouTube execs.)
In the years since, TechCrunch has expanded to include a gadget site, CrunchGear, as well as a large database of tech companies and personalities, called CrunchBase.
"Tim Armstrong and his team have an exciting vision for the future of AOL as a global leader in creating and delivering world-class content to consumers, be it through original content creation, partnerships or acquisitions," Arrington, who's known as a hard-charging journalist, said in a statement. "I look forward to working with everyone at AOL as we build on our reputation for independent tech journalism and continue to set the agenda for insight, reviews and collaborative discussion about the future of the technology industry."
Internet pioneer AOL is in the midst of an ambitious transformation since it was spun off from Time Warner (TWX) and went public last December. Armstrong, a former high-ranking Google (GOOG) executive, has said AOL's goal is to become the leading producer of content on the Web.
TechCrunch will retain its editorial independence and remain headquartered in San Francisco. Arrington says he'll remain with the company for at least three years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but estimates range from $25 million to $50 million.