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Yahoo buys browser RockMelt to bolster mobile, networking

A Yahoo logo is pictured in Rolle, 30 km (19 miles) east of Geneva, December12, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A Yahoo logo is pictured in Rolle, 30 km (19 miles) east of Geneva, December12, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc acquired social Web browser company Rockmelt, the latest move by the struggling Web portal to scoop up technology and engineering talent that could bolster its mobile and social networking efforts.

Yahoo did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but a source close to the situation said the price was between $50 million and $80 million.

Yahoo will shut down the existing RockMelt product in 30 days and integrate the technology into Yahoo's media platform to "deliver content in new ways," a yahoo spokeswoman said.

Yahoo will get 32 RockMelt employees as part of the deal, including RockMelt CEO Eric Vishria , who will become Vice President of products for Yahoo's media properties and RockMelt CTO Tim Howes, who will become Vice President of engineering for Yahoo's mobile products, according to the source.

RockMelt's Web browser, which was launched in 2010, integrated social networking features directly within the browser, allowing users to send Facebook messages and browse Twitter postings. The browser never gained enough of a following to challenge the larger Web browsers such as Google Inc's Chrome and Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer.

Over the past year, the company shifted its efforts to focus strictly on the mobile version of its product.

The deal represents the 21st acquisition by Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer. Most of the deals have been smaller transactions to acquire engineering talent. Yahoo's biggest deal was the $1.1 billion acquisition of blogging service Tumblr in May.

Yahoo is among the world's most popular online properties, with hundreds of millions of monthly visitors, but its revenue growth has stalled as consumers and advertisers flock to Facebook, Google and other Web destinations.

RockMelt raised roughly $40 million in funding from venture capital firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners and Khosla Partners.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; editing by Andrew Hay)

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