Topix.net to be acquired by newspaper J-V

Earlier today, Tony Gentile had a rumor that Topix.net was acquired by Knight-Ridder–it’s true.
Knight Ridder, in partnership with the Tribune Media Company and Gannett, has acquired 75% of Topix.net for an undisclosed amount.
I spoke with Rich Skrenta, Topix CEO and founder, and he told me that the deal would allow Topix to remain as an independent entity based in the Valley–and deploy their skills across the KRD-Trib-Gannett platform.
The press release states: “Topix.net will use content and funding from Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune to expand and refine its NewsRank technology, services and operational infrastructure. ..Collectively, Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune operate more than 140 newspaper Web sites with nearly 30 million unique visitors monthly. The companies have partnered together in other joint ventures such as ShopLocal.com and CareerBuilder.com.”
This is an awesome event for the (self-funded) Topix guys, and an amazingly shrewd move by these newspaper partners–for far less than the NYTimes, they’ve acquired a resource that will help them launch and create local feeds, monetize text ads far better than Google AdWords can off the shelf, and help make them a leader in the search, local and RSS spaces.
The deal also plays well with Knight-Ridder’s recent acquisition of 5 local daily newspapers in Silicon Valley, including the Palo Alto Daily News. If Topix.net’s talent is to aggregate and categorize local feeds, then these newspapers are both prime content for Topix and a potential platform for a new targeted local business–not a bad plan. And if KRD and partners are willing to take a run at adding citizen journalism–watch out!
So folks, maybe old media ain’t so old anymore.
P.S. Plus, this is disruptive to the other companies (and there are many) pitching their search and RSS services to newspaper partners, who now see 3 of the big ones locked up…and to the big aggregators who now find online news business are alive and kicking still.