AOL Rebrands Sphere As Surphace

Blog content engine Sphere, which was acquired by AOL in 2008, is rebranding itself as Surphace. According to a blog post on the site, Surphace’s name is a better fit with next year’s product roadmap for the content platform.

The post explains that Surphace will include the beta version of its self-serve platform S4 (it’s currently in alpha); SurphBoard, which is an updated editorial user interface for larger partners; a URL shortener; real-time conversation threads or “surphing;” and a few more stealth features.

Founded by entrepreneur and True Ventures VC Tony Conrad, Sphere, which launched in private beta in 2005 and to the general public in 2006, developed a technology that automatically finds blog posts related to whatever a user is looking at currently. The fairly successful product, which uses contextually matching technology, is currently integrated into over 50,000 websites, including Time, CNN, WSJ, and more; and is live on over 2 billion monthly article pages across the web. In the blog post, Sphere’s Josh Guttman wrote, “our business today is centered around bringing content to the surface and so, Surphace is a name that, not only defines our business, but one we’ve grown to love.”

Sphere originally landed in Bill Wilson’s organization, the former EVP of Programming at AOL. His division, which is now known as MediaGlow (which he’s the president of), controls AOL’s content properties (Entertainment, Finance, Weblogs, etc.). Wilson and new AOL CEO Tim Armstrong have been firming up their solid content strategy, which includes Sphere.