Google Inc. is snapping up YouTube Inc. for $1.65 billion in a deal that catapults the Internet search leader to a starring role in the online video revolution.

Although some cynics have questioned YouTube’s staying power, Google is betting that the popular Web site will provide it an increasingly lucrative marketing hub as more viewers and advertisers migrate from television to the Internet.

“We are natural partners to offer a compelling media entertainment service to users, content owners and advertisers,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive officer.

YouTube will continue to retain its brand, as well as all 67 employees, including co-founders Chad Hurley, 29, and Steve Chen. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Investors applauded the possible acquisition as Google shares climbed $8.50, or 2 percent, to close at $429 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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