Guardian News & Media, a private UK publisher, has acquired ContentNext, the publisher of PaidContent.org, the news site launched by Rafat Ali in 2002 that was an early example of a lone blogging effort that turned into a larger media company.

Ali told Reuters that ContentNext would continue to be run as a stand-alone business. Reports, based on an anonymous source, suggest the Guardian paid around $30 million.

[Update: Kara Swisher, of AllThingsD, follows up with a piece about what other blog networks might be bought, including a look at TechCrunch, and citing me, among others. She adds that the $30M for ContentNext includes an earn-out agreement.]

ContentNext, headquartered in Santa Monica and New York, started with news, but expanded into conferences and research reports after taking at least $1 million in venture capital from Alan Patricof’s Greycroft Partners in 2006. It targeted readers in the media, entertainment and technology sectors.

ContentNext owns four properties. The flagship PaidContent covers digital content. MocoNews.net covers the mobile industry. PaidContent:UK covers the UK tech industry, and ContentSutra.com covered India’s digital media industry.

This has been a long road of very hard work for Ali and his team, and this is undoubtedly great news for him. Congrats Rafat!

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