Update: TechCrunch is reporting that Mashable staffers are saying CEO Pete Cashmore is denying the rumors to them.
Reports are coming out of SXSW that CNN is in talks to acquire Mashable. This is being reported by the New York Times and multiple others, though there’s no word yet from either CNN or Mashable.
The NYT cites “three people with knowledge of the talks” as its sources. Reuters reports, citing an unnamed source that “It’s entirely possible” that CNN will buy Mashable for over $200 million, and that an announcement is expected on Tuesday.
Mashable’s sale to a bigger media entity has been rumored for years. In early 2010, rumors were going around that AOL was going to buy it. Obviously that didn’t happen, though AOL did buy TechCrunch and The Huffington Post.
As Felix Salmon mentions in the video the TechCrunch acquisition has hardly been smooth for AOL, as many of the site’s key writers have left. Mashable has already lost some if its key writers, so that will be an important element to consider going forward, acquisition or no.
Some have indicated that they think $200 million would make the acquisition overvalued, but Mashable’s more consumer-oriented focus (as compared to a site like TechCrunch), along with its pageviews, have enabled the site to attract big advertiser money.
Mashable has also been able to expand its own brand at a high level through various partnerships, including with CNN itself.