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Condé Nast's $500M Web shopping spree

‘Tis the season, right?

Condé Nast, the owner of publications like tech magazine Wired and social news aggregation site Reddit, announced today it has raised a $500 million fund and brought in Andrew Siegel, a former Yahoo mergers and acquisitions expert, to help the publisher go on a shopping spree.

Condé Nast isn’t much of a stranger to trying out new forms of media. The publisher has been on the prowl for some new, defining media sources for several years now. Its flagship publication, Wired, launched an iPad version of its magazine earlier this year. It purchased the news aggregator site Reddit.com in 2006 as well, which has since exploded in popularity thanks to slipping traffic at rival site Digg.com.

With the success of upstart companies like Groupon that have essentially managed to generate completely new markets, it’s pretty clear why the publishing company would come topside and start looking for new revenue streams. There wasn’t any indication of what kind of companies Condé Nast was looking to pick up outside of a cryptic focus on “digital brands,” according to a report by All Things D. But with newcomers like Groupon spurning offers worth at least $6 billion, the publisher is probably going to be on the prowl for fresh, early-stage startups.

You can pretty much rule out news aggregation sites in that “digital brand” spectrum, though. After Condé Nast acquired Reddit in 2006, it became a bit reluctant to send additional resources to the site’s owners. The site as a result periodically experiences traffic overload and outages. To bypass Condé Nast’s frugal attitude, it began offering a premium subscription that had some additional features for a monthly fee.

Ben Huh, the mastermind behind the Cheezburger network that helped popularize some of the Internet’s most popular memes, even offered to buy the site at one point. Site founder Alexis Ohanian said he would be surprised if Condé Nast agreed to sell the site. But he said the two would chat at some point. It isn’t clear whether Condé Nast hasn’t found a way to monetize the Internet-savvy Reddit community, or if it simply has no interest.

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