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AOL Buys MapQuest.com for $1.1 Billion

By Shannon Henry
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 1999; 12:35 PM

In the latest step in its "AOL Anywhere" strategy, America Online Inc. of Dulles today said it will acquire mapping and direction service MapQuest.com Inc. in an all-stock deal valued at $1.1 billion.

MapQuest, which is based in Lancaster, Pa., is the most popular travel site on the Internet beating out No. 2 Travelocity and No. 3 Expedia, according to Reston-based market research firm PC Data. It offers information on 78 countries in five languages.

The acquisition is a continuation of AOL's plan to deliver Internet service through devices other than the desktop computer. AOL has been seeking to build its interactive content offerings through purchases such as MapQuest and MovieFone, a movie listing and ticketing service. It also has been forming partnerships or making investments in device makers, such as Palm Pilot and Nokia.

AOL president Bob Pittman said to expect AOL maps to be available on smart phones, Palm Pilots and other handheld devices. He said people won't just look for directions on their computer before they leave the house; they will be navigating as they move throughout their day. The localized maps will include real-time traffic updates, said AOL.

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"What AOL is and makes us so unique is that it's the easiest online service," said Pittman. "You just push a button to get what you want. And one of the important things that people want is directions."

Maps will be available on AOL's subscriber services AOL and CompuServe as well as its Netcenter Web site and its ICQ instant messaging service, the company said.

More than 70 percent of consumers see online maps as more valuable than printed versions, according to a recent Jupiter Communications report. Jupiter estimates that local and regional advertising will account for 24 percent of all Internet advertising by the year 2003, up from 14 percent in 1999.

MapQuest.com shareholders will receive 0.31558 shares of AOL common stock for each of their MapQuest shares. The deal is expected to close in the spring of 2000, following regulatory and MapQuest.com shareholder approval.

Staff writer Ariana Eunjung Cha contributed to this report.

© 1999 The Washington Post Company

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