Tag Archives: Acquisitions

Live Universe acquires yet another deadpooled start-up on the cheap

A couple of weeks ago we realized the shopping pattern of Live Universe is to buy failed, but over funded, start ups on the cheap and the deal we read about a few days ago makes no exception. Just over a few week ago the founders of and five engineers from VoIP services provider Jangl left for Jajah after the company failed to find a proper buyer. Following their departure, it was unclear what would happen to Jangl’s assets and remaining staff. Wonder no longer – Live Universe is here to help. As you may guess they bought the failed company, perhaps on the cheap too. We tried to find out what the acquisition price is, but since we found nothing neither reliable enough nor even rumors around the blogosphere about the exact price, we do assume the price tag is not much different from what the other failed start-up enjoyed in their deals with Live Universe. Call it $1M and you might be closer to the truth than you may expect.

Well not bad, except the fact that Jangl has raised $9M to date from a number of perhaps unhappy investors today. Among others Jangl’s investors include Storm Ventures, Labrador Ventures, Cardinal Venture Capital, Alex Mendez, Stuart Davidson and Chris Hadsell.

Based on a number of posts across the blogosphere we learn that problems of the company have likely started the late last fall. By that time Jangl’s board began telling the founders to pursue an acquisition strategy or raise more money despite the company had closed deals with several partners, including Plentyoffish and Tagged.

Despite the rumors that many companies have taken a look into the Jangl, it is clear that no deal has emerged from those interests.

Jangl allows consumers to exchange text messages, phone calls and voicemail without sharing their real numbers. Jangl customers can send/receive SMS messages from their mobile device or their Jangl account online, have voice messages sent directly to their email or profile inbox as MP3 files, and block contact from someone at any time, among other capabilities. Jangl provides its services to users of Facebook (JanglMe application), Bebo, Plentyoffish.com, Match.com, Friendster, Tagged, FriendFinder, Fubar, and more, and also offers its services at Jangl.com.

In late 2007, Jangl began testing a variety of ad placements in phone calls and SMS messages. One of its most recently partners – dating site Plentyoffish.com – will be a free service supported entirely by advertising. This advertising revenue stream will be Jangl’s second, as the company has already been generating partner revenue since January 2007.

Other companies bought on the cheap by Live Universe include Pageflakes (funding $4.1- sold out for what is known to be in the $1M range). Revver ‘s total funding is known to be in the $12.7M range coming from Comcast, Turner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Richards and William Randolph Hearst III – sold also out for anything between $1M and $2M. MeeVee itself has also taken a whopping amount of money from the venture capitalists — $25M over the past years, we bet on it has also been sold out for anything in the $1M / $2M range. From the 3 companies above, MeeVee seemed by that time to have traffic, at least. Today’s deal is for yet another company that has taken $9M and has perhaps gone for nothing more than $1M.

A simple math that we started out a couple of weeks ago revealed that Live Universe has bought $42M worth in distressed assets for $3M in total and if we include the deal from today it turns out that the buyer has acquired web properties that have taken over $51M to develop for $4M in all.

The buying company LiveUniverse is probably most popular with the fact it has been founded by one of the founders of MySpace – Brad Greenspan. With over 55M monthly unique visitors, LiveUniverse is one of the world’s largest online entertainment networks. They operate several successful and popular websites across three core verticals: Video, Social Networking & Music. LiveVideo is one of their sites, which about a year ago instigated a scandal on YouTube when it reportedly paid top YouTube users to come to its platform. LiveUniverse founder Brad Greenspan, who was involved with MySpace early on, is perhaps best known for his lawsuits protesting the company’s sale to News Corp.

Competitors/similar companies include: SayNow, Jajah, Jaxtr, Dial Plus, GrandCentral and TringMe.

More

http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/liveuniverse
http://jangl.com/
http://cerdafied.typepad.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/16/live-universe-picking-up-jangls-pieces/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/jangl
http://www.techmeme.com/070524/p7#a070524p7
http://venturebeat.com/2008/05/07/internet-phone-company-jangl-to-sell-assets-core-team-goes-to-competitor-jajah/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/05/09/live-universe-acquires-yet-another-over-funded-start-up-on-the-cheap/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/15/pageflakes-is-acquired-by-brad-greenspan%e2%80%99s-live-universe/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/08/meevee-put-itself-up-for-sale/

Live Universe acquires yet another over funded start-up on the cheap

It appears that the buyer’s profile of Live Universe is to buy web 2.0 companies in trouble on the cheap, yet preferably over funded, with some traffic and good technology, if possible. After they have bought video site Revver (also relatively cheap, price perhaps was in the $1M range) in February 2008, they have also fetched up Pageflakes just the last month for what is believed to be yet another 1M dollar deal. Yesterday we have read over Web that Live Universe has this time bought yet another start-up falling into the same profile (over funded, failed and looking for a fire sale) MeeVee. They have put themselves up for sale via press release the last month.

MeeVee is all about personalized TV guides and the company was said is having over 1.1 million organic unique users in March up from 480,000 in August 2007. The Company uses its editorial voice and proprietary technology to scour a curated list of thousands of sources to connect consumers with customized video, blog and TV programming content that matches their interests. The Company has significant issued IP, community, media relationships, a TV listings personalization engine, streaming TV directory and a compelling product roadmap. The Company has 7 full time employees, all in product and engineering.

Let’s look into the Live Universe’s shopping pattern.

Total funding for Pageflakes was $4.1M – sold out for what is known to be in the $1M range. Total funding for Revver is known to be in the $12.7M range coming from Comcast, Turner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Richards and William Randolph Hearst III – sold also out for anything between $1M and $2M. MeeVee itself has also taken a whopping amount of money from the venture capitalists — $25M over the past years, we bet on it has also been sold out for anything in the $1M / $2M range. From the 3 companies above, MeeVee seems to have traffic, at least.

It is an interesting strategy to buy companies and spur growth, but we guess it is better you buy growing start-ups rather than falling stars that have spent enormous amount of capital yet did not work things out. It is yet to be seen if this strategy is going to be successful on the long term run for Live Universe. Let’s put it that way – a company that has raised $25M and did not manage to work things out is less likely to make it with less money. On the other hand buying distressed assets is something proven by the time. From Live Universe’s perspective it seems clever move that they have bought web assets that needed more than $42M to develop for $3M or something. As web 2.0 moves towards its peak and then its end (the same as what happened with the dot com boom) there would be lots of over funded and over hyped, but failed start-ups for sale on the table for Live Universe to choose from and buy cheaply.

So to conclude if your company has taken enormous amount of money, but has definitely failed to work things out and is looking for some liquidation of its assets Live Universe might be your choice to consider.

The buying company LiveUniverse is probably most popular with the fact it has been founded by one of the founders of MySpace – Brad Greenspan. With over 55M monthly unique visitors, LiveUniverse is one of the world’s largest online entertainment networks. They operate several successful and popular websites across three core verticals: Video, Social Networking & Music. LiveVideo is one of their sites, which about a year ago instigated a scandal on YouTube when it reportedly paid top YouTube users to come to its platform. LiveUniverse founder Brad Greenspan, who was involved with MySpace early on, is perhaps best known for his lawsuits protesting the company’s sale to News Corp.

Additionally in 2006, Greenspan also initiated a lawsuit and activism site against his former company, MySpace, calling attention to the fact they were censoring widget makers and software service providers using MySpace as a development platform.

More

http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/liveuniverse
http://meevee.com/
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080407/20080407006076.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/25-million-later-meevee-in-trouble/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meevee
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/16/meevee-cuts-20-of-staff/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/20/meevee-takes-35-million-series-d/
http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=17395
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2006_Feb_27/ai_n16085490
http://www.techmeme.com/080407/p95#a080407p95
http://www.deftapartners.com/
http://www.labrador.com/
http://www.waldenvc.com/
http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan/investbk/global/na/baef
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/15/pageflakes-is-acquired-by-brad-greenspan%e2%80%99s-live-universe/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/08/meevee-put-itself-up-for-sale/
 

Microsoft – Yahoo saga seems to be over!

Well, after 3 months of negotiations, speculations and rumors the saga between Microsoft and Yahoo seems to be over, for now. Microsoft has formally withdrawn their offer to buy Yahoo while the second publicly declared a victory for the Web at all. While there are clearly no winners in this virtual war here is what the people at Microsoft have told Yahoo today.

“We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer.

“We have a talented team in place and a compelling plan to grow our business through innovative new services and strategic transactions with other business partners. While Yahoo! would have accelerated our strategy, I am confident that we can continue to move forward toward our goals,” Ballmer said.

“We are investing heavily in new tools and Web experiences, we have dramatically improved our search performance and advertiser satisfaction, and we will continue to build our scale through organic growth and partnerships,” said Kevin Johnson, Microsoft president for platforms and services.

On the other side here is Yahoo’s response to Microsoft

“We remain focused on maximizing shareholder value and pursuing strategic opportunities that position Yahoo! for success and leadership in its markets. From the beginning of this process, our independent board and our management have been steadfast in our belief that Microsoft’s offer undervalued the company and we are pleased that so many of our shareholders joined us in expressing that view. Yahoo! is profitable, growing, and executing well on its strategic plan to capture the large opportunities in the relatively young online advertising market. Our solid results for the first quarter of 2008 and increased full year 2008 operating cash flow outlook reflect the progress the company is making. Today, Yahoo! has:

– a refined strategic focus to drive enhanced volume and yield;

– reorganized to focus its efforts on its most promising products and services;

– invested in innovations designed to revolutionize display advertising and facilitate closing the competitive gap in search; and

– enhanced expense and resource management to support improved profitability.”

Jerry Yang, co-founder and chief executive officer, Yahoo! Inc. added, “I am incredibly proud of the way our team has come together over the last three months. This process has underscored our unique and valuable strategic position. With the distraction of Microsoft’s unsolicited proposal now behind us, we will be able to focus all of our energies on executing the most important transition in our history so that we can maximize our potential to the benefit of our shareholders, employees, partners and users.”

The simple truth is that Microsoft has definitely been hurt on its image and is walking out from this with serious dose of frustration. As to Yahoo they will surely take a serious hit by the stock market, their market capitalization will be big time hurt and they are probably going to become an easy pray to private equity players. There are all signs to believe that Microsoft will eventually return for Yahoo when time comes and the valuations are less. Rumors have it that Yahoo might eventually pursue a merger with AOL. Teaming up with Google is not an option. Aside having anti-trust implications it might also hurt their Panama advertising strategy on the long term run. 

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/may08/05-03letter.mspx
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=308131
http://webinsider.blogspot.com/2008/05/microsoft-cancelled-bid-for-yahoo-why.html
http://blog.pmarca.com/2008/05/examining-micro.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/yahoos-tough-week-ahead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/yahoo-responds/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/29/yahoos-new-rock-star-retention-program/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/breaking-microsoft-walks/
http://mashable.com/2008/05/03/breaking-microsoft-corporation-rescinds-offer-for-yahoo-inc/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/05/03/yahoo-breaks-the-wrist-microsoft-walks-away/
http://www.centernetworks.com/microsoft-yahoo-aol
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/03/despite-rumors-microsoft-is-highly-unlikely-to-increase-its-bid-for-yahoo/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Since bought StumbleUpon’s traffic has dropped seriously down; now climbing back

Since the time StumbleUpon was bought by eBay for $75M in cash there was little to no news on the company until today. Apparently in a quest for media attention StumbleUpon (or eBay) has contacted TechCrunch with some new numbers to show off with. We are not sure what StumbleUpon is up to and why they need media coverage, but there must be something. It could be either some new plans or products in the pipelines for which they are seeking coverage or it could also be the fact that the site has just started to recover from a deep dive in the traffic late last year for which the company now wants to let the world know.

Obviously ignoring their drop in the traffic, according some traffic measurement companies, (including comScore), they seem to drag the attention of influential technology bloggers to the number of their registered users and the number of their stumbles.

After del.icio.us StumbleUpon seems to be the second popular web site from the web 2.0 generation that tries to undermine the factor unique visitors. Interestingly only companies that see decline in their traffic (the same is the case with del.icio.us) try to do that while other sites that keep on growing seem to love the unique visitor measurement standard.

They boast about already having close to 5 million registered users, but they do not clarify what is the number of the active users among them. During the first quarter of 2008 their users, they claim, have already stumbled more than one billion times and the site is on its way to reach its five billionth stumble in total somewhere during the next months. However, the truth about their unique visitors does not look that good.

At the time eBay acquired the company for $75M in cash the site had reportedly less than 2M uniques per month, which puts the value of each of their users at close to $38 or something. comScore’s number for the May 2007 was close to 4M uniques, while Compete reports for less than 1M for the same period. We don’t believe either of those numbers to be very accurate and since the company has no word on their actual traffic we are taking the average number of what is publicly available as information. Few months after the acquisition StumbleUpon’s traffic has significantly dropped down to just 1.8 million in December 2007, which in any way represents a serious and worrying decline for the eBay’s web property, which might explain their PR activity today. Since then the site’s traffic is slowly recovering and is now close to 3.2 million per month, which might still be below the traffic at the time the acquisition took place if we take the comScore’s numbers for real.

In matter of honesty one must pay attention to the fact that some users at StumbleUpon are using their site through browser add-ons and are not often visiting the site, just like what del.icio.us’s founder Joshua Schachter has explained a few weeks ago in a answer to a question why their site is declining in traffic.

Whatever the case with StumbleUpon might today be it still remains one of the few great examples for hefty exits that many of the newer web 2.0 sites try to repeat with little to no luck so far. Having raised only $1.5M in angel money StumbleUpon has managed to sell itself to eBay for $75M all in cash.

More

http://stumbleupon.com
http://www.quantcast.com/stumbleupon.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/stumbleupon.com/?metric=uv
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/23/five-million-users-and-nearly-five-billion-stumbles-later/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/stumbleupon
http://2008.thenextweb.org/agenda/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/11/14/stumbleupon-may-be-for-sale-50m/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/10/delicious-not-shrinking-but-another-problem-looms/ 
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/31/some-of-the-web%e2%80%99s-biggest-acquisition-deals-during-2007/ 

Sony acquired digital media identification company Gracenote for about $260M

Sony has today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Gracenote for about $260M plus other contingent consideration. Gracenote provides a range of music-related solutions including MusicID, which detects which song is currently being played by an application and loads track information for the user. MusicID leverages a database of over 6M CDs and 80M tracks and the technology has been in works since 1995 known previously with the name CDDB.

“Gracenote is a global leader in technology and services for digital media identification, enrichment, and recommendation, and these capabilities will be essential to the next wave of innovation in content, services, and consumer electronics,” said Tim Schaaff, SCA Senior Vice President, Software. “Sony sees tremendous growth potential in developing Gracenote as a separately run business unit, and by broadly embracing Gracenote’s platforms, Sony expects to significantly enhance and accelerate its own digital content, service, and device initiatives.”

“We are very pleased to join Sony as its strategic vision is very much in line with our own,” said Craig Palmer, Gracenote CEO. “Having a closer connection with the content and digital services community will accelerate adoption of Gracenote technologies, and the relationship will also give us the resources necessary to rapidly expand development of next generation products for the industry.”

Gracenote’s existing business will continue to operate separately. As a wholly owned Sony subsidiary, Gracenote will continue to develop new technologies in existing as well as new areas of operation. The senior management team will remain with the company. Sony and Gracenote anticipate that the transaction will close in late May, subject to certain regulatory and other approvals.

Many consumer music app services Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, and Winamp use Gracenote for their music detection capabilities. Other consumer electronic brands are also associated with the company such as SonyEricsson, Philips Wireless Music Systems, Cadillac, Apple iPod, among others. 

More about Gracenote

Gracenote is a global leader in embedded technology, enriched content, and data services for digital entertainment solutions within the Internet, consumer electronics, mobile, and automotive markets. Formerly known as CDDB®, Gracenote delivers a substantially improved consumer experience in digital media devices and applications, plus media monitoring and other data services to the recording industry, making it an integral part of the digital media economy. Gracenote powers leading services including Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, Winamp; home and automotive products from Alpine, Panasonic, Philips and Sony; and mobile music applications from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, KDDI (Japan), KTF (Korea), Musiwave (Europe), and others. Gracenote is headquartered in Emeryville, California.

Founders

Steve Scherf, Co-Founder & Chief Architect/Vice President of Service Development
Steve Scherf and business partner Ti Kan created the CDDB compact disc recognition service as a hobby in 1995 in order to get personal computers to display information about the CDs they were playing. To their surprise, the service became overwhelmingly popular, prompting them to found CDDB LLC in 1998. Later that year the company was acquired by Escient LLC, and the name was changed to Gracenote. After the acquisition, Scherf took on the role of Chief Architect for all Gracenote services. Scherf has since been the driving force behind nearly every fundamental Gracenote technology, cementing his position as one of the main pioneers of media recognition. Scherf personally designed and built the lion’s share of the current incarnation of the Gracenote service, a modular system that is extremely flexible, scalable and massively redundant, and is capable of easily incorporating new services as the need arises. He architected, designed, and developed the technology behind other Gracenote online products, such as Link, Discover, Music Enrichment, the MusicID® search engine, and others. In addition, Scherf has assimilated a number of third-party recognition technologies into the Gracenote suite, such as Mobile MusicID, re-implementing and improving them from the ground up. His pioneering work in media recognition also forms the basis of Gracenote’s embedded offerings. Prior to co-founding Gracenote, Scherf worked as Unix kernel developer for such companies as Altos Computer Systems, Acer America and Stratus Computer, delving into file systems, I/O performance, SCSI subsystems, networking and fault tolerance. Scherf graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1988 with a B.A. in Math and Biology.

Dale (Ty) Roberts, Co-Founder
Ty Roberts is widely recognized as one of the inventors of enhanced CD technology and is accredited with producing the industry’s first enhanced CDs. He joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that he founded in 1993. Roberts serves as Gracenote’s chief technology strategist, providing technology direction and overseeing the creation of products and services that leverage the power of the Gracenote database to deliver information services. While at ION, Roberts produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. He was the company’s lead technologist and innovator in adding multimedia content to traditional audio CDs. ION was also widely recognized as a leading provider of enhanced CD production tools utilized by recording and multimedia development companies. In September 1993, Bertelsmann Music Group created the first interactive record label after acquiring a 50 percent interest in ION. Prior to founding ION, Roberts was a founder and senior manager of LightSource, a software development company that produced multimedia and graphics editing software. Previously, he was a senior engineer at Pixar, where he created several award winning, Apple-based music applications including “Studio Session” and “Jam Session.” Roberts is Gracenote’s representative to the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), organization that is chartered with establishing standards for di gital music and music playing devices.

Ann Greenberg, Co-Founder
A pioneer in the online world, Ms. Greenberg is an inventor on seven U.S. patents, related to the delivery of content synchronized to audio recordings. She joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that she founded in 1993. Greenberg served as Sr. Vice President of Marketing, Business and Strategic Development during her tenure at Gracenote until October 2001. No longer affiliated with Gracenote, Ms. Greenberg currently works as an independent consultant in the Bay Area. While at ION, Ms. Greenberg produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. Greenberg designed the Jump’s groundbreaking interactive video, and produced the world’s first musician-hosted chat with David Bowie in 1994 – a format that has become standard practice in launching albums. Greenberg transitioned ION’s enhanced CD technology and business models into implementations that use the Web and are being utilized at Gracenote today. Prior to founding ION, Greenberg was the head of marketing for the Academy Award winning Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation, whose over 60 films include: Wall Street, True Stories, Talk Radio, Reversal of Fortune, Hoffa, Bad Lieutenant, The Crow and Judge Dredd. Ms. Greenberg studied Architecture and Cinema and earned a degree in Creative Arts & Cinema from California State University at San Francisco.

Scott A. Jones – Chairman of the Board and co-Founder
Scott Jones carefully sculpted the Gracenote company into existence by acquiring pivotal enabling technologies from CDDB, ION, Escient, Quintessential Player, and Cantametrix. He served as the company’s Chairman/CEO from 1998 to 2001 and is now Chairman of the Board. Jones raised significant capital, recruited a talented management team, contributed technology and intellectual property, and strategically guided Gracenote to pursue market segments that are the foundation of the Company’s success.

More about Sony Corporation of America

Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is a U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony’s principal U.S. businesses include Sony Electronics Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., and a 50% interest in Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of the largest recorded music companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $70.3 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007, and it employs 163,000 people worldwide. Sony’s consolidated sales in the U.S. for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007 were $18.9 billion. 

More

http://www.gracenote.com/
http://www.gracenote.com/company_info/press/042208/
https://doors.gracenote.com/developer/
http://www.sony.com
http://www.sony.com/SCA/index.shtml
http://www.streetinsider.com/Press%2BReleases/Sony%2BCorporation%2Bof%2BAmerica%2Bto%2BAcquire%2BGracenote/3566949.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/22/sony-buys-gracenote-for-260m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/gracenote
http://www.techmeme.com/080422/p141#a080422p141
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_Music_Initiative

Pageflakes is acquired by Brad Greenspan’s Live Universe

Pageflakes, an Ajax home page that once was a real competition to Netvibes, is being rumored to have been acquired by Live Universe for an undisclosed amount. Both companies refrain themselves from publicly announcing the deal nor made any comments on the technology blogs that mentioned about it, which tells us the deal is most likely in the very low-range not worth mentioning. What makes us think so? Pageflakes has surely lost the battle with Netvibes and is having just a fraction of the traffic Netvibes reaches. The rumor has it the company was seriously running out of money while maintaining a burn rate of over $300,000. It also became publicly known fact that the company failed to raise additional money and they were sort of forced to undergo the fire sale road, which is never a good one and leads to little to no premium on the price. 

Based on both Quantcast and Compete the Pageflakes’ traffic is relatively low (below 100K) when compared to some of the company’s competitors, which is by far not enough to go for your Series B round of funding.

Of course, Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen, formerly of Yahoo, denied that the company was running out of cash by replying to rumors that way: “All startups are up for sale! We frequently receive inbound M&A inquiries”. 

According to our own research across the web it seems the price is perhaps above $500K and may be not much over $1M. A couple of facts lead us to the thinking that the deal is not high-profile one 1) The Colorado-based NewsGator was also said to have been bidding for Pageflakes, but the rumored price was in the $500K range; 2) Brad Greenspan’s vehicle is known to be buying web companies on the cheap and 3) both companies did not announce the deal, yet.

The buyer Live Universe, which was founded by MySpace founder Brad Greenspan, has made a number of acquisitions to spur growth. Most recently, they acquired video site Revver (also relatively cheap, price perhaps was in the $1M range), in February 2008.

More about Pageflakes

The company was founded in Germany and is headquartered in San Francisco. The company was co-founded in October 2005 by Christoph Janz, Omar AL Zabir, Ole Braundenburg and Shahedul Huq Khandkar. Benchmark Capital Europe (now Balderton Capital) invested $1.3 million in Pageflakes in May 2006, and followed up with a $2.8 million bridge taking the company’s total funding to the $4.1M mark.

Pageflakes is the easiest way to read, see, discover and share your favorite things on the web. Start by easily creating a web start page that keeps you up to date on the many blogs and news sources that you read daily. Add photos, videos, a calendar, email, a to-do list and more to make your page even more personal. You can even make special pages that you can share with friends, family, or post on the web for everyone.

Pageflakes has thousands of Flakes (widgets or modules) including Facebook, a universal News Search, YouTube, Twitter, message board, blog, and hundreds of RSS feeds to choose from. Design and create a page that you can have for yourself or share with anyone you choose.

Pageflakes was founded in Germany in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, California. Pageflakes draws on the rich experience of its executive team, comprised of seasoned professionals who have helped shape the Web today. Backed by Balderton Capital, Pageflakes is led by Dan Cohen, an innovator who fashioned the way that both Google and Yahoo sought to personalize the Web.

From what we read below the company’s CEO is obviously a very experienced guy in the personalized content space so we have no idea what’s gone wrong, where and when.

Dan Cohen oversees all aspects of Pageflakes’ rapidly growing worldwide business and has an integral role in driving the company’s product vision. Dan is a seasoned entrepreneur and startup CEO, and is an expert in personalized homepages. Prior to Pageflakes he was the head of My Yahoo!, Yahoo’s personalized homepage, and before that led product management for personalized products at Google, including the Google Personalized Homepage. Previously, Dan was the founder and CEO of two technology companies, Personity and USConnect, and led their acquisitions by Openwave and IKON, respectively. He also held key senior management positions at IKON Technology Services, including Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Director of Applications Development. Dan holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dan is staying on his CEO position and is said will be reporting to Greenspan, and the company will remain at their current offices in Germany and San Francisco.

Competitors include Netvibes, My AOL, Microsoft, My Yahoo! and of course iGoogle.

More

http://pageflakes.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/insider/
http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.balderton.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/company/exec_team
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/dan-cohen
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/balderton-capital
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-acquired-by-live-universe/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/pageflakes
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-out-of-cash/
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2265800,00.asp
http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/01/02/top-ajax-start-pages-reviewed/
http://www.benchmark.com/news/sv/2007/06_07_2007a.php
http://gigaom.com/2007/01/25/ex-yahoo-exec-now-pageflakes-ceo/
http://www.quantcast.com/pageflakes.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/pageflakes.com/?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver/

MeeVee put itself up for sale

An interesting approach is taken at MeeVee. They are trying to sell themselves through a press release. This morning we have seen a short press announcement put up on Yahoo through BusinessWire giving relatively short details about the company and soliciting interested parties to contact a person at his email as indicated in the pr.

MeeVee is all about personalized TV guides and the company was said is having over 1.1 million organic unique users in March up from 480,000 in August 2007. The Company uses its editorial voice and proprietary technology to scour a curated list of thousands of sources to connect consumers with customized video, blog and TV programming content that matches their interests. The Company has significant issued IP, community, media relationships, a TV listings personalization engine, streaming TV directory and a compelling product roadmap. The Company has 7 full time employees, all in product and engineering.

So, what’s so interesting in here one may ask. First off in the press release the company claims is engaged in multiple discussions with potential acquirers that provide the greatest long term upside and synergy, but are giving a public announcement where they solicit more such interested parties to discuss with them. It is either nobody is interested in the company to date and they are trying to attract such interest or the interested parties are setting their offers too low and MeeVee is trying to establish sort of bidding war in order to drive valuations up.  You don’t normally ask for interested parties to contact a company re a sale unless the current talks (if any) aren’t going well.

So far so good, but when you go into some more details about the company you realize there is something wrong with the whole situation around MeeVee.

The company is known to have taken $25M in total funding to date and having just 1.1M ungues per month off $25M in venture capital appears no longer that attractive as in it was in first reading. That sort of information is skipped in their original press release. Their last round of funding (Series D) was taken just late last year and was in the $3.5M range, which means they have spent most, if not all, of the money they have previously taken. As to what is only left in the company from their last round remains unclear. To top it off the company has gone through some significant layoffs.

Some of MeeVee’s unhappy investors include DEFTA Partners, Edmond de Rothschild Venture Capital, WaldenVC, Labrador Ventures, The Bay Area Equity Fund (Effective January 24, 2008 the private equity investment professionals of the Bay Area Equity Fund have left JPMorgan to form DBL Investors LLC) and FCPR Israel Discovery Fund.

Over the past years we have been witnessing not only one deal where a web site with over 1M unique visitor per month has commanded acquisition prices in the $20M range, but in the MeeVee’s case we do not think that is the case. Why? Well, MeeVeee has spent $25M so far, has laid off its employees and is on its way down. If you have spent $25M the expectations for your company are for much larger reach and audience than just 1.1M visitors per month, so in the case their 1M users per month can be considered quite a failure in the context of the resources being allocated to the company.  The picture is already quite different if you take for an example a web site that has reached the 1M uniques per month mark off say less than $1M of money invested in so far, did not lay off its employees and is not on its way down as a trend on the traffic graphs of sites like Quantcast and Compete.

Whatever the case is it is hard for us to believe that 1.1M uniques per month can command a price anything above the amount of money they have taken from an army of venture capitalists. So what is then the case here? It is perhaps that the VCs are looking for a way to effectively liquidate the company and recoup whatever is possible leaving the founders with literally empty hands.

More about MeeVee

Discovering what’s online and on TV.

MeeVee is the leader in helping people navigate the growing world of online and television entertainment. Each month, over a million tech savvy, affluent and educated online users visit MeeVee to help make their entertainment choices.  These people are passionate about entertainment, and visit MeeVee again and again to track their favorites and to discover and share new entertainment choices.

Why? Today’s consumers are overwhelmed by the millions of online videos and hundreds of digital TV channels now available. MeeVee is the first destination to bring together traditional TV listings and online video from hundreds of sources in one place. Using our patented technology, consumers can personalize MeeVee to search for new TV and online video based on their interests. At MeeVee, our mission is to help them discover more of what they want to see.

Located in Burlingame, CA, MeeVee initially launched in 2005 as a television listings provider.  Using innovative new technologies, MeeVee changed the way consumers find TV programming by enabling them to personalize their guides to surface new programming choices based on people, shows, hobbies and keywords of interest. Now MeeVee is applying that same technology to the growing world of online video, helping individuals to cut through the clutter and discover interesting videos.  Today, MeeVee employs more than thirty enthusiasts who are passionate about our mission of helping consumers discover and enjoy the media they want to see. 

Supported by leading advertisers, including CBS, Netflix, Radio Shack and more, MeeVee also syndicates and licenses our television search and personalization services to leading newspapers, major online content providers and cable operators around the country. Our partners include some of the largest integrated media companies, including Gannett, Hearst and Media News Group. Our list of syndication partners is growing daily and includes USA Today, The Chicago Sun Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Times.  Our investors, who have supported some of Silicon Valley’s most successful ventures, include JP Morgan, Labrador Ventures, Walden Venture Capital, Defta Partners, and Rothschild Ventures.

TechCrunch has called MeeVee, “an easy-to-use application and…a nice model for building a personalized web experience.”  MeeVee is a 2007 “Always On” Media 100 winner.

Well, in some of the latest posts about MeeVee on Techcrunch are surely not as positive as the sentence above and MeeVee is as of today put in the dead pool watch list.
More

http://meevee.com/
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080407/20080407006076.html 
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/25-million-later-meevee-in-trouble/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meevee
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/16/meevee-cuts-20-of-staff/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/20/meevee-takes-35-million-series-d/
http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=17395
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2006_Feb_27/ai_n16085490
http://www.techmeme.com/080407/p95#a080407p95
http://www.deftapartners.com/
http://www.labrador.com/
http://www.waldenvc.com/
http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan/investbk/global/na/baef

Imeem confirms the acquisition of Snocap for reportedly less than $5M off more than $10M in venture capital taken by the company!

An acquisition that was announced in late February has today been confirmed. Imeem confirms the acquisition of Snocap. As we have then written Snocap has been in a long quest for a buyer (at least since Sept last year) and has gone through some massive layoffs, so it was clear the company had little to no options left but to sell off. Rumors have it that no other competitive buyers have ever shown up on the horizon and Imeem was the most logical buyer for Snocap.  Just like in February official terms were not disclosed, but some insiders have speculated the price tag has been less than $5M. What we do not understand is how a company with over $10M in venture capital money and quite solid technology has ended up selling itself under fire. Imeem is known to have been licensing the company’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

Other rumors have it the total investment in Snocap is way over $10M with CSV II that is known to have made its first investment, leading a $15 million Series C round in Snocap, which happened in early 2006. Other technology bloggers have meanwhile speculated it has been a payday for Fanning (also the founder of Napster), but it is hard for us to believe in this knowing it’s pretty rare to see VC terms these days without some liquidation preferences that protect them against fire sales like this.

Imeem is being said it depends on Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology for its entire business model, which has surely forced Imeem to buy the company. The Snocap technology matches the music to its database of 7 million songs, which then allows Imeem to allocate a portion of its advertising revenues to the music companies who own the copyrights to the songs.

After all being said for the two companies it still remains quite unclear for us why Snocap needed to sell. Pressured from investors or what? The lesson learned here for Imeem is that startups should not rely on other startups for the key technology that their business is built upon.

Snocap was founded in 2002 by Napster creator Shawn Fanning and Jordan MendelsonRon Conway is perhaps their angel investor. The company is known to have taken $10M million from Conway, Morgenthaler Ventures and WaldenVC. Just like Imeem’s deal with Universal Snocap has also signed a distribution deal with MySpace. In fact Imeem and Snocap have also partnered in the past where Imeem used Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

More about Imeem

Imeem is an online community where artists, fans & friends can promote their content, share their tastes, and discover new blogs, photos, music and video. Here are some of the things you can do on imeem:

Discover
-Enjoy the latest videos, music, photos, or blogs posted on imeem.
-Stay up-to-date with your personal network of fans and friends with “What’s New” notifications.
-Get in-depth stats for all your content and track their popularity.

Interact
-Tag, comment, rate, and share any of your friends’ cool (or embarrassing) content.
-Create or join groups for your favorite band, event, topic, and more!
-Start discussions with other imeem users and make new friends.
 
Share
-Embed your media on other pages (such as your blog, Bebo, etc.).
-Recommend stuff to your friends or add it to your “Favorites” list.
-Easily add media to your Del.icio.us, WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad.

Imeem is hoping to make money from advertisers, a portion of which will be shared with its music partners. It has signed up Puma, Nike and Microsoft among others, though it does not disclose revenues.

This is Imeem’s second acquisition after they acquired Anywhere.FM in January. Imeem has raised two rounds of capital, although the size of the second round was not disclosed.

Imeem is based in San Francisco and takes its name from “meme” – a term coined to describe the ideas that communities, adopt, and express. Dalton Caldwell is the CEO of the company and the co-founded together with Jan Jannink. The company used to be in Palo Alto and is known to have launched in 2004. Known investors in the company are Morgenthaler (Series A founding) and Sequoia Capital, the venture capital fund that supported Google and YouTube.

It is interesting to know what Imeem’s total funding is considering the fact Snocap has raised $10M. Imeem’s first round was only for $750K. Imeem does not disclose revenues.

Some competitors and similar companies include Skreemr, Seeqpod, Deezer, Pandora, Lala, MOG, we7 and Wixi.

More

http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/01/snocap-has-been-acquired-by-imeem/
http://www.stanwichadvisors.com/docs/CSV%20Press%20Release.pdf
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/17/who-bought-rupture/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/imeem-confirms-snocap-acquisition/
http://snocap.com/
http://Imeem.com
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/imeem
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/imeem-acquires-snocap/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/10/exclusive-imeem-inks-a-deal-with-the-worlds-largest-record-company/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/09/02/myspace-gets-into-music-biz/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/06/20/imeem-now-officially-legitimate/

Apparently not all companies find April Fools Jokes funny

This is certainly the case with Bill Gates’s privately held company Corbis Corporation. The company’s PR guys out there have certainly taken them far too serious and have last week threatened a tiny Norwegian micro stock photography agency called Crestock with legal action over an apparent April Fools joke made by the company in a recent press release.

Ok, what’s the story all about after all. Lets put it that way: Crestock has put up a press release announcing the acquisition of Corbis in a deal valued over $600M rebranding their logo and giving Corbis independency after the deal closes. Here is the original press release as it initially appeared on Web.  Today there is clarification on the web site

Bill Gates’ Corbis Corporation is one the worlds largest stock photography sites and being acquired by a small player in the sector was kind of distasteful for them to see and they have reacted almost immediately by threatening the tiny company with legal actions.

We think Corbis has gone too far and the “megalomanic” press release, as the Norway company describes it, is more suitable as label for the Corbis’s behavior.

On the other side there is something that bothers in the press release on first reading – its seriousness and a few high-profile investors and institutions claimed to have been involved into the acquisition. Compared to Corbis with its $250M revenues per year Crestock appears quite a start up like company and perhaps no one would have taken their announcement for real if it was not the claim there are some large-scale and high-profile organizations and investors being involved in to the foolish press release such as “Scandinavian group of investors”, the Norwegian government fund organization: Innovation Norway and the European Union’s Media II Programme, whose purpose is to encourage the development and distribution of European audiovisual works. 

We think this is what made the press release read and look beyond the common April Fools jokes and have Corbis’s lawyers and PR guys pissed off.

Over the past several years corporate April fools jokes became a trend among rivals. Around April 1 every year there are thousands of April fools press releases and announcements about potential deals, acquisitions and beyond, but perhaps none is ending up in the court, if any.

Not long after the press release was posted, Corbis Corporation was notified about the story. Dan Perlet, Director of Communications, promptly went to action, emailing Crestock Public Relations representatives:

“On behalf of Corbis Corporation, I strongly suggest that you remove the April Fools press release on your website that suggests Crestock has purchased Corbis. We ask that this release be removed from your website immediately, or we may be forced to consider legal action.”

“We in no way intended to mislead or otherwise conduct ourselves in an illegal or inappropriate manner,” Crestock CEO, Geir Are Jensen stated in a statement early today.

“Receiving emails like this spices things up in your everyday work routine” Jensen, Crestock CEO continued, “Of course we didn’t remove the obvious April Fools joke, but in case the second richest man in the world comes after us with his pack of lawyers after him. We’ll have to set aside a monthly sum to cover the expenses.”

More about Creystock

Crestock`s aim is to play a leading role in the micropayment stock photo business.

The photography trade is undergoing a revolution as digital cameras and internet distribution lower the prices to a minimum. There are a few succesful companies in this particular sector of the photo business. Our goal is to be among the most sucessful  – as soon as possible. And then move further.

We emphasize:

– A high level of image quality – in fact the highest in the business
– An inspiring, fast and utterly relevant search experience for buyers
– A strong and vibrant community, based on forums and the unique and personal member console
– A friendly and warm service, even though we are the northernmost photo bureau we know of

More about Corbis

Corbis is a creative resource for advertising, marketing and media professionals worldwide, helping to bring creative work to life with the highest quality photography, footage and rights services. Corbis offers a preeminent collection of more than 100 million creative, entertainment and historic images, a comprehensive footage library, the world’s deepest rights and clearances expertise and an award-winning media management solution, as well as empowering SnapVillage, an innovative microstock web site. Based in Seattle, Corbis serves more than 50 countries worldwide. Corbis is privately held by its Chairman Bill Gates, who founded the company in 1989.

Story picked from EPR Network

More

http://www.crestock.com/news/crestock-stock-photos-acquires-corbis-for-625-million-175.aspx
http://express-press-release.com/48/Corbis%20threatens%20Crestock%20with%20legal%20action%20over%20April%20Fools%20Joke.php
http://www.crestock.com/
http://www.crestock.com/blog/
http://www.corbis.com/
http://www.crestock.com/news/corbis-threatens-with-legal-actions-over-april-fools-joke-176.aspx
 

Despite rumors Microsoft is highly unlikely to increase its bid for Yahoo

When last week we wrote about Yahoo’s shares going up on rumors that Microsoft is going to increase their bid for the Internet giant it seems those rumors were not very accurate. This week Microsoft gave Yahoo a very strong signal it won’t happen.

Sources “close to the company” tell the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is standing firm on its initial offer of $31 a share (which has now declined in value, in step with Microsoft’s stock price, from $44.6B to about $42B).

“There’s no reason to bid against ourselves,” one of these people said.

Microsoft’s strategists believe that time is on their side, the people close to the company say. The strategists argue that Yahoo’s recent roadshow failed to dazzle investors and nothing in its presentations will justify a higher price, the people say. In addition, the strategists argue that the worsening economic downturn and stock-market weakness make the original bid look even more generous.

The WSJ is also saying that Microsoft won’t reveal its alternate slate of directors until it has to—and that won’t be until ten days after Yahoo announces the date of its 2008 shareholders meeting, which it has yet to do.

Despite the fact those rumors were the reason behind Yahoo’s recent increase in their share price with 4.4% to $28.73 the company’s stock price did not fall much on today’s trade and remained close to $28 compared to the moment the rumors were broadcasted publicly.

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer
 

An Israeli sync start-up acquired for reportedly $25M

BeInSync Ltd., an Israeli-based provider of an all-in-one solution that allows users to backup, synchronize, share and access data online has been acquired by Phoenix Technologies for an undisclosed amount. However, Techcrunch has reported the company went for $25M.

Phoenix Technologies, based in Milpitas Calif., is a public company (PTEC) established in 1979 and designs, develops and supports core system software for personal computers and other computing devices. The Company’s product supports and enables the compatibility, connectivity, security, and manageability of the various components and technologies used in such devices. It sells these products primarily to computer and component device manufacturers. Phoenix Technologies has more than 300 employees and company’s today market capitalization was $426M on $47M revenues for the fiscal 2007.

BeInSync, on the other side, is just four and a half year old startup that is known to have raised $8M to date from several institutional investors like Alta Berkeley Venture Partners, Aviv Venture Capital Fund, and Eurofund. Looking at the numbers this seems not the dream exit for the investors – only $25M off $8M invested, but is perhaps better than nothing on the long term run considering the huge competition in the space of file sharing and synchronization among any type of devices from computers to mobile phones. The company’s founders are Tal Barnoach, Sharon Carmel, and Adi Ruppin.

The acquisition, which is anticipated to close within the next several weeks, represents yet another step by Phoenix in delivering on its PC 3.0 promise of Embedded Simplicity.

BeInSync’s technology redefines the way consumers and SMBs backup, access, share and protect documents, rich media files, and other important data. The company’s patent-pending, peer-to-peer technology allows users to seamlessly and securely access their latest files anytime and anywhere, automatically keeping files and folders ‘in sync’ and backed up across multiple computers, including home PCs, office PCs and laptops.

“This acquisition is a leap forward in our effort to redefine and significantly improve the PC experience by embedding simplicity for end users,” said Woody Hobbs, President and CEO of Phoenix Technologies. “PC 3.0 eliminates complexity and provides users with the kind of convenience they expect from their digital devices. We are bringing new benefits to the hundreds of millions of PC users globally who require built-in functionality on PCs by enabling secure and easy online access and collaboration and automated data protection to help them manage their digital lives.

“The integration of breakthrough synchronization technology from BeInSync will allow Phoenix and its customers to help end-users alleviate concerns about the loss of important files and to give them complete mobile freedom to access their data from any Internet-connected computer.”

Phoenix Technologies’ management team itself has extensive experience in synchronization technologies. Before joining Phoenix, Woody Hobbs served as President and CEO of Intellisync, a leader in wireless email and synchronization solutions, which was acquired in 2006 by Nokia.

“Given our past experience in synchronization solutions, it was fairly easy for us to identify the best possible technology existing out there that would fit in with our corporate vision and product strategy,” continued Hobbs. “We were very impressed with BeInSync’s people and their technology and we’re excited to work with them to transform data access and continuity for PC users in consumer and small business markets as well as in enterprise departments.

“End-users want to stay connected and always ‘be in sync’ with colleagues, friends, remote files and computer systems. We look forward to working with our OEM customers to make online synchronization and continuity a core part of the PC end user experience. Together, the two companies will meet a wider set of customer needs and have a significantly greater opportunity to enable PC OEMs to grow their markets.”

“We are very excited to be a part of Phoenix Technologies, the global leader in core systems firmware for PCs,” said Tal Barnoach, Founder and Chairman of BeInSync. “With this acquisition, Phoenix is extending its leadership in the PC industry to include products in its portfolio that will set the standard yet again for providing the best-in-class solutions to PC OEMs and their customers.”

Upon the closing of the acquisition, Sharon Carmel, Founder & Vice President of R&D at BeInSync, will join Phoenix as Vice President & Chief Scientist of Synchronization and Continuity Solutions and Phoenix will continue to maintain operations out of Tel Aviv, Israel. The two companies are developing integration plans that build on corporate similarities and the best business and product development practices from each company.

“Both Phoenix and BeInSync are passionate about creating and enabling great user experiences across the entire range of mobile PCs,” said Carmel. “Our combined teams will be a powerful force for innovation around emerging mobile computing platforms for delivering web-based data management and data protection solutions. PC 3.0 users will no longer be dependent on a single, stand-alone PC for access to their files and digital life. At the same time, Phoenix’s OEM customers will have new opportunities to differentiate their offerings, and provide additional value-added services as part of the PC sale.”

More about BeInSync

BeInSync redefines the way consumers and businesses access, share and protect their documents, photos, videos and music. With over 4 million downloads, BeInSync offers users complete freedom when dealing with their digital content, by allowing them to seamlessly sync, share, access and backup their data. Based on patent-pending secure peer-to-peer technology, BeInSync creates your own private data network that makes it easy to stay connected and always in sync with colleagues, friends, remote files and computers.

More about Phoenix Technologies

Phoenix Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTEC) is the global market leader in system firmware that provides the most secure foundation for today’s computing environments. The PC industry’s top builders and specifiers trust Phoenix to pioneer open standards and deliver innovative solutions that will help them differentiate their systems, reduce time-to-market and increase their revenues. The Company’s flagship products, AwardCore, SecureCore, FailSafe and HyperSpace, are revolutionizing the PC user experience by delivering unprecedented security, reliability and ease-of-use. The Company established industry leadership with its original BIOS product in 1983, has 155 technology patents and 139 pending applications, and has shipped in over one billion systems. Phoenix is headquartered in Milpitas, California with offices worldwide.

More

http://www.beinsync.com
http://www.beinsync.com/company/press-releases/press_release_phoenix_anouncement.php
http://www.phoenix.com
http://investor.phoenix.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=301730
http://www.thecoils.com/2008/03/27/beinsync_exit/ (in Hebrew)
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/26/beinsync-acquired-by-phoenix-technologies-for-25m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/beinsync
http://www.beinsync.com/
http://investor.phoenix.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyid=PTEC&fileid=183485&filekey=d858c202-a278-42bf-b2b4-23ce4ce3a404&filename=301730.pdf
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=PTEC
http://www.altaberkeley.com/
http://www.avivvc.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Firmware_Interface
http://www.eurofund.co.il/

Yahoo shares up 4.4% on rumors Microsoft will increase the bid to $34

To make a long story short a Citigroup Investment Research analyst believes that rather than let the deal fall apart, Microsoft will increase its buyout offer for Yahoo. Citigroup has raised its Yahoo price target to $34 per share based on their belief that Microsoft will revise its takeover offer. The guy is named Mark Mahaney and he said “We believe that a Yahoo sale to Microsoft — at a price higher than the initial $31 bid is the most likely outcome”.

On those rumors and others Yahoo shares closed at $28.73 Tuesday, which is up 4.4%.

Mahaney also said Microsoft is yet to make significant inroads in the area of online advertising, especially against market leader Google, despite efforts to do so for the past three to four years. The only way Microsoft could compete with Google would be to acquire Yahoo, the analyst said.

It was also said Yahoo keeps on aggressively pursuing other alternatives to Microsoft’s unsolicited takeover bid, although there are no any other competing bidders for the company at this time. Rumored possibility is Time Warner, but analysts are saying it is more likely to force Microsoft increase its bid rather than ending up in a deal with Yahoo.

Really more

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Website Optimization company and CMS leader joined forces

An interesting deal happened a few months ago, announced in October 2007 and closed in November the same year. Interwoven, a public company traded on NASDAQ, has acquired the said website optimization pioneer Optimost.

The both companies then said that combination of Interwoven’s Content Management Solutions with Optimost’s Multivariable Testing and Optimization Solution will help organizations maximize online business performance.

Under the terms of the agreement between Optimost and Interwoven, Interwoven will pay approximately $52 million in cash for all outstanding shares of Optimost and assume certain existing employee stock options. From what we were able to dig up, Optimost is probably having less than $8M in revenues per year, which translates into multiple around 6X the revenues, which is not that impressive number after all. Interwoven is based in San Jose, Calif, and is making itself over $200M in revenues enjoying a market capitalization of 539.57M (March 17 2008).

As businesses continue to spend unprecedented amounts to drive traffic to their Websites through search engine marketing, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, e-mail, and other tactics, they face a significant challenge in converting traffic into revenue-generating customers. The combination of Interwoven’s content management solutions and Optimost’s optimization solution helps businesses address this challenge by providing marketers with the industry’s most complete set of capabilities for creating, deploying, testing, analyzing, and optimizing targeted content to Website visitors.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to power our customers’ online presence, and we believe it puts Interwoven at the top of the short list of a company’s must-have partners for online business,” said Joe Cowan, chief executive officer at Interwoven. “Companies today understand that maximizing their online business performance is the key to accelerating growth and profits, and that content is at the core of their online strategy. By acquiring Optimost, we are providing customers with a powerful solution for optimizing their content – which creates the connection point between the visitor and the Web – to provide the most compelling experience, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever before.”

Founded in 2001, Optimost is a privately-held company headquartered in New York City, whose customers include Ask.com, Auto Trader, Delta Air Lines, FAO Schwarz, Lenovo, and MGM Mirage. Optimost has a proven track record in helping its clients achieve double-digit increases in conversion rates and online sales. For example, Delta Air Lines made changes to Delta.com based on the results of its multivariable optimization initiative, which has added up to approximately $15 million in additional revenue so far this year.

“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for Optimost’s customers,” said Mark Wachen, chief executive officer at Optimost. “When we founded Optimost, our vision was to deliver technology that allows marketers to increase the effectiveness of their online presence to drive measurable business results. Clearly, Interwoven shares the same vision and by combining forces we will be able to extend our innovative technology to a much larger market and provide Optimost customers with a more complete solution for maximizing their marketing investments. We look forward to joining the team at Interwoven.”
In just matter of couple of weeks the deal was closed on November 1st, 2007.

All Optimost employees, including the founders, Mark Wachen and Lance Lovette, have joined Interwoven and will focus on product innovation, customer support, and the continued acceleration of Interwoven’s business in the online marketing arena.

The Optimost solutions are now available through Interwoven as a standalone offering as well as in conjunction with the solutions in Interwoven’s portfolio.

Interwoven expects the Optimost acquisition to contribute in the range of $1.5 million to $2.0 million to total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2007, subsequent to the acquisition date and before considering purchase accounting adjustments to revenues of approximately $1.0 million.

More about Optimost

New York-based Optimost is a technology and services company specializing in comprehensive real-time testing and conversion rate marketing. Pioneers in the field of multivariable testing, the firm is able to create and test virtually limitless permutations of copy, offers and layouts in the time it takes to conduct a standard A/B page comparison test. By combining real-life response data with information about which variables were displayed in the test, Optimost clients are able to determine how much each individual website element contributes to the overall response rate. Client web pages can then be optimized further based on the combinations of most positive individual site elements. Optimost clients include: InterActiveCorp, Lillian Vernon, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, QVC, and EarthLink.

More about Interwoven

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to maximize online business performance and organize, find, and govern business content. Interwoven solutions unlock the value of content by delivering the right content to the right person in the right context at the right time. Over 4,200 of the world’s leading companies, professional services firms, and governments have chosen Interwoven, including adidas, Airbus, Avaya, BT, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, DLA Piper, the Federal Reserve Bank, FedEx, Grant Thornton, Hilton Hotels, Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, HSBC, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, Shell, Qantas Airways, Tesco, Virgin Mobile, and White & Case. Over 20,000 developers and over 300 partners enrich and extend Interwoven’s offerings.

More

http://www.interwoven.com/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:IWOV
http://www.optimost.com/
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=MAIN::NEWS&dcr=components/optimost.jsp
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=NEWS::RELEASES&dcr=templatedata/announcement/press-release/data/2007/dcr-2007-10-17-optimost.xml
http://www.centernetworks.com/interwoven-acquires-optimost-social-news http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/interwoven-acquires-optimost-for-52-million/
http://www.optimost.com/press/2007-11-interwoven-announces-close.php
 

What is the real reason Automattic bought Glavatar?

As some of you already know w2i (web2innovations.com) is keeping an internal archive of almost all funding and acquisition deals that happened over the past years on web. While we have the ambitions to report on all of them the deals are so many so that we end up only writing about some of the most interesting ones. The same is the case with Automattic when they bought Glavatar some months ago. We kept the news in our archive for quite long time trying to figure out ourselves what is the real motive behind the acquisition of Glavatar and since we came up to no particular synergy and reason we have decided today to simply write about.

First off Automattic is the company behind the popular blog software WordPress. The site is amongst the most popular on web with more than 90M uniques per month. When Matt Mullenweg, announced the deal on the Glavatar’s blog he wrote about so many improvements that Glavatar is going to face with its new owner. Such as scaling things up, they transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to WordPress.com’s infrastructure and servers. Avatar serving was said is already more than three times as fast, and works every time. They’ve also moved Glavatar’s blog from Mephisto to WordPress, of course.

He further said “Basically, we did the bare minimum required to stabilize and accelerate the Gravatar service, focusing a lot on making the gravatars highly available and fast. However our plans are much bigger than that.” Among those are all of the Premium features have gone free, and refunding was offered to anyone who bought them in the last 60 days; gravatar serving moved to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load; Merging the million avatars WordPress had with the 115,000 or so Glavatar brought on the table after the deal and make them available through the Gravatar API; integrate and improve templates and bring features like multiple avatars over; from WordPress.com, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar (Gravatars are only available up to 80px); Adding Microformat support for things like XFN rel=”me” and hCard to all avatar profile pages (that is in particular an interesting move); develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses and not last rewrite the entire application itself to fit directly into WordPress.com’s grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.

These days after Yahoo announcing big plans of moving towards web semantics and adopting some of the microformats and hinting LinkedIn for possible better relations with their data set if they adopt them too is a clear signal that web is slowly moving towards semantically linking of data. Automattic is obviously looking forward to that time too with its plans to add microformats like XFN (XHTML Friends Network) and hCard (simple, open, distributed format for representing people, companies, organizations, and places, using a 1:1 representation of vCard (RFC2426) properties and values in semantic HTML or XHTML). An interesting example of contextually and semantically linked web data is LinkedWords and, as you can see, the way we use them to semantically and contextually link words across our texts and connect them to their contextual platform.

So far so good, but nothing from the above indicates what is the reason Automattic bought the site called Glavatar. It is definitely neither because of their user base (only 115K) nor because of the technology, obviously. Employment through acquisition? Not really, Tom Werner, the founder of Glavatar is being said to be a big Ruby guy and taking into consideration the fact Matt seems to be moving towards PHP with Glavatar it seems highly unlikely for Tom to stay with Automattic.

From everything being said publicly it turns out that Automattic has decided to help the small site work better, but no clear benefits are seen for their company from this deal, or at least not to us.

We do believe Matt where he says “our plans are much bigger than that”, but what those plans are? Building a social network upon the avatars and the profile data associated with or perhaps having an online identity service built upon. Or, perhaps, simply building a global avatar service (with in-depth profiles) makes more sense for a company that commands over 100M uniques per month rather than for a tiny web site like Glavatar.

Whatever the case is congratulations to the involved. Terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.

More about Glavatar

The web is no longer about anonymous content generated by faceless corporations. It is about real people and the real content that they provide.

It is about you.

But as powerful as the web has become, it still lacks the personal touch that comes from a handshake. The vast majority of content you come across on the web will still be near-anonymous even though it may have a name attached. Without knowing the author behind the words, the words cannot be trusted. This is where Gravatar comes in.

Gravatar aims to put a face behind the name. This is the beginning of trust. In the future, Gravatar will be a way to establish trust between producers and consumers on the internet. It will be the next best thing to meeting in person.

Today, an avatar. Tomorrow, Your Identity–Online.

More

http://gravatar.com/
http://site.gravatar.com/site/about
http://automattic.com/
http://blog.gravatar.com/2007/10/18/automattic-gravatar/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/automattic_acquires_gravatar.php
http://www.quantcast.com/p-18-mFEk4J448M
http://microformats.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://rubyisawesome.com/

AOL is offered up for sale

Today is a sad day for AOL, which somehow contrasts to the big day the company had in 2000 when they merged with Time Warner in what was then the biggest deal for the dot com era. All indicates that AOL is offered up for sale.

AOL, which is a symbolic company for the Internet the has tried to reinvent itself many times. The latest effort, like those before it, does not seem to be going well.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, AOL’s parent company, acknowledged weakness in the business and said he was open to combining AOL with another company — “whatever configuration makes it the strongest and the most valuable.”

Could this be an indirect signal to Yahoo to join forces with AOL? Yahoo anyway lost News Corp for a possible partner and after turning Microsoft down they are left now in sort of hot water to deal with their angry shareholders. It is known fact that Time Warner explored merging AOL with Microsoft’s online operation two years ago and is now discussing a potential deal with Yahoo.

AOL has recently shifted the entire focus and is betting its future on a new strategy of selling advertising across the Internet and has spent more than $1 billion on related acquisitions. The company has acquired a massive number of ad-related companies like Quigo, Tacoda, Userplane, Truveo and their first one Advertising.com for $435M back in 2004.  

AOL appears to be very close to Yahoo by destiny and just like them it seems they are also going through bad times.  On Monday, the third of four top executives installed last summer to run the new advertising division, known as Platform A, left the company. The executive, Curtis G. Viebranz, was fired and replaced by the executive who had been battling his strategy through the fall, Lynda Clarizio.

Several recently departed executives contacted this week described the climate at AOL as acrimonious. They said there had been confrontational meetings of employees as well as screaming matches in offices, as senior executives worried about making their aggressive quarterly ad sales goals. Mr. Bewkes acknowledged Tuesday that revenue at AOL would be flat for at least another quarter.

New York Times says that the company is still major player on Internet with a very prestigious brand name to an enormous revenue stream of $5.2B in 2007. AOL’s Web sites attract 112 million visitors per month and 9.3 million Americans still pay the company for Internet services. Yet the revenues are down 33% from 2006 and so their traffic too seems to be seriously declining over the past year as seen on Compete’s traffic graph. The company’s overall revenue was said has declined as it lost dial-up access subscribers while the advertising revenue totaled $2.2 billion in 2007, up 18 percent from the previous year, yet the pace of growth has slowed each quarter, too.

By contrast, if Facebook with their almost 100M uniques per month make even the half of what AOL is making off theirs the Facebook’s market value would then perhaps be justified at the $15B mark, but the “big” F is doing nothing compared to AOL’s revenues made from advertising alone.

It seems AOL is going to blindly follow the hot trend for today which is an ad network that sells ads on thousands of other sites. It is quite lazy and easy business, instead of building your own traffic, which is taking ages long to achieve you better attract third party sites to use their traffic to make money from. Perhaps this is the reason why we witness so many new ad networks lately.

“We were ahead of the curve in the creation of Platform A and remain in a great position to compete in this intensely competitive marketplace,” said Randy Falco, the chief executive of AOL. The management changes, he said, were necessary to be able to move quickly. After spending dearly to amass assets, “the trick was to get them working together and integrated in a very meaningful way.”

On Tuesday Mr. Bewkes, who spoke to analysts at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., confirmed that AOL no longer saw a meaningful future for its dial-up Internet subscription service, which may be spun off.

The online advertising seems to be one of the most profitable niches over Internet commanding higher profit margins than any other business online. The leader on the market is Google with its AdWords/AdSense making over $10B per year by selling contextual ads on third party web publishers and there are literally thousands of smaller and more aggressive players in the space.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

More

http://aol.com
http://corp.aol.com/about-aol/company-overview
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/technology/12aol.html
http://www.aolmedianetworks.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/11/official-aol-on-the-table-for-a-deal/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/aol
http://www.techmeme.com/080312/p43#a080312p43
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/3/jeff_bewkes_s_private_hell_twx_
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-bewkes-shake-ready-to-do-an-aol-deal-twc-spinoff-and-other-options/
http://searchengineland.com/080312-091036.php
http://portalblog.aol.com/

Are Digg’s users the real reason nobody buys them?

While reading over our daily dose of web 2.0 news and stories across our favorite technology blogs, we came across a very interesting theory being discussed on a few of these blogs.

Based on what we have read, and understood, it might turn out that Digg has a track record of surrendering to the mob when things get really bad. Giving control of its users to what shows up on their home page as a story or news is perhaps what made Digg popular but ironically it plays, with the same degree, a very negative role in Digg’s attempt to sell itself out. While the rumors are spreading around Web that potential buyer of Digg might be Microsoft (although they decline that) angry digg users are taking on the site with the promise they never return to it if the Redmond’s giant gets its hands on the popular user generated news site. We have speculated a lot over the past months as to what might be the reason why such a mainstream-like popular site does not get its long-waited exit despite all of its attempts it seems what is attracting potential suitors to Digg (its massive number of users) is what might be scaring them away.

Here is an extraction, as found on Techrunch, of the comments on Digg’s page under the news that Microsoft might be the potential buyer of Digg. 

  • Don’t sell Digg Kevin! Digg this story he needs to know how we feel!
  • Why not sell digg when you don’t care about the community. Sell it and we will be happy.
  • Somehow i think if Microsoft manages to buy digg a larger revolt than 09 F9 11… will happen, at least i know what i will do
  • I would have to see how things went afterward. If Google tried to shoehorn their “style” in to Digg’s interfaces (see: Jotspot), or if Microsoft tried to turn it in to a Windows program, I would switch to Reddit. I like Digg more, but either of those scenarios would kill Digg for me.
  • If MS is in, I’m out.
  • OK guys, Kevin doesn’t give half a shit about you. He cares about what all americans care about: $500,000,000 in his pocket. Good old capitalism, eh?
  • Goodbye Digg… Its been good knowing you… too bad you were gobbled up by corporate america. I remember back in the day when you were a bastion of free speech and unfettered entertainment, but no longer. I guess I will have to revert back to the “best of” section of Craigslist. Don’t sell your soul.
  • As long as they lets us delete our accounts
  • I am new to digg.com and I really like it. If Microsoft were to buy it that would be it for me. I will remove it from my favorites and never come back.
  • Dude. If Microsoft gets its fucking hands on this site then you will definitely have one less viewer. Those fuckers taint everything they touch.
  • Is this for real come on Kevin don’t give up to digg to these huge companies. What makes digg so special and fun is that it’s independent this is not a good idea.
  • If Microsoft purchases this site, go ahead and make your last act to institute a ‘delete your account’ function.
    This is terrible news. Lets see if we can have yet another viable outlet bought up by huge conglomerates which try to feed us what we are allowed to think and censor our beliefs. I tell you what. If digg is sold, I’m not coming here anymore! Kevin please don’t let this happen. Tell us this is about more than money.

Digg’s saga continues.

More

http://blog.digg.com/?p=114
http://digg.com/tech_news/Google_Microsoft_Bidding_For_Digg
http://digg.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/09/digg-users-are-doing-their-best-to-kill-an-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/01/digg-surrenders-to-mob/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/07/google-microsoft-bidding-for-digg/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/19/digg-guys-are-up-for-sale-again-quietly/
http://www.quantcast.com/digg.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/17/for-sale-used-social-voting-site-asking-price-300-million-goes-by-the-name-of-digg/
http://www.hoovers.com/allen-&-company/–ID__51026–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/no-acquisition-for-digg-raise-series-b-round-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/07/just-sell-digg-already-jay/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-nobody-buys-diggcom.html
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/17/source-digg-hires-bank-hoping-to-sell-for-300-million-or-more/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2007/02/diggcom-fights-spam-scam-games.html
http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/latest-digg-payola-exposed.html
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/digg-close-to-a-300-million-sale-320145.php
http://valleywag.com/tech/sun-valley/whos-selling-whos-buying-at-the-allen-confab-276716.php
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/06/28/374371/index.htm

Pluck acquired by Demand Media

Demand Media, a major buyer and operator of Internet domain name companies, has announced just a few days ago it has acquired the Austin-based social media company Pluck after about reportedly two months of negotiations. The price is $75M in all cash deal. Pluck revenues are around $10 million/year and the company has raised $17 million in three rounds of funding, which makes the deal a nice exit for Pluck’s investors among which are Austin Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Reuters. Michael Arrington from Techcrunch however does not seem to agree with that constatation and calls it that way: VCs who aim for 3x their money tend to go out of business.

Pluck, a provider of social media tools and technologies, is serving more than 200 media websites, which are reaching over 100M users, and serving over 1.5 billion interactions per month. The acquisition expands Demand Media’s social media platform beyond its owned network of web sites to power leading media properties and brands worldwide including Gannett/USA TODAY, Guardian Unlimited, Hearst Corporation, Fox, The Washington Post, Scotts and Circuit City.

“We founded the company with a vision for expanding social media beyond the traditional social networking portals. To that end, we have acquired and developed the components necessary to create, distribute and monetize web sites and content,” said Richard Rosenblatt, co-founder, CEO and chairman of Demand Media. “Now, we are ready to expand the platform and model beyond our proprietary network. Pluck provides the technologies, people and partners to accomplish this vision.”

Demand Media’s social media platform currently supports more than 64 million unique visitors per month according to the company’s own Google Analytics data from January 2008. The platform features multiple social media applications such as social Q&A and a vast wholly-owned and rights-cleared content library of Pro Amateur text and video. All this will be enhanced by Pluck’s widget and API-based social media technologies.

“This combination will allow us to provide our customers with an even broader suite of social media products and monetizable content,” said Dave Panos, CEO of Pluck and executive vice president for Demand Media. “The combined expertise of our two companies in platform technology development, content creation and community management is truly un-matched.”

Since its inception in May 2006, Demand Media has raised over $350 million in equity capital and pioneered a new formula for building an interactive media company. Through its social media platform, Demand Media has grown its vertical network into one of the Internet’s largest.

Pluck was founded in 2003 and built a world-class social media platform that enables leading publishers, brands, and retailers to grow their audiences by seamlessly integrating content, community and social media technologies directly into their existing web properties.

More about Pluck

A leader in social media software solutions, Pluck helps transform how publishers, retailers and major brands engage their audiences and customers to discover, create and distribute information online. Providing the technologies for content generation, syndication, social networking and news personalization, Pluck helps its customers more easily consume and leverage the new open content model that has emerged as the cornerstone of Web 2.0.

Products
If your goal is to drive brand recognition and revenue by leveraging the power of user contributions and interaction on your web site, Pluck offers a complete suite of rich Social Media products called SiteLife. Ready for embedding into any web site, SiteLife helps build vibrant communities of active bloggers, citizen journalists and consumers while driving the creation of new content, traffic and repeat visits.

For bloggers and publishers, Pluck offers BlogBurst, a syndication service that places blogs on top-tier online destinations. With BlogBurst, publishers weave the rich and diverse fabric of the blogosphere into their sites to drive site traffic, while bloggers gain visibility and grow their audience and reach.

Management Team

Pluck was co-founded in 2003 by Dave Panos and Andrew Busey, two executives with entrepreneurial experience in some of the industry’s earliest efforts in instant messaging, real-time collaboration, e-commerce, and e-learning. Meet the Pluck management team.

Dave Panos – Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder
 
A software industry veteran with more than 16 years of start-up experience, Dave has helped define new markets across a range of Internet and Enterprise sectors. He co-founded Pluck as a Venture Partner at Austin Ventures. Previously, he was a co-founder and executive vice president for B2B eCRM provider Question Technologies (sold to Motive). For seven years, he was vice president of marketing and business development at web collaboration pioneer DataBeam before their successful sale to Lotus/IBM. Previously, Mr. Panos ran product management at Easel Corporation, a popular software development tool company that went public. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree from Furman University.

Will Ballard – Vice President and CTO
 
In his role as Chief Technical Officer at Pluck, Will oversees a team of 20 engineers responsible for the company’s software architecture, design, development and quality assurance. He is also responsible for the design and operation of the growing data center that runs key aspects of site services for Pluck customers, including Hearst Magazines, WashingtonPost.com, TheStreet.com and Cox Newspapers. Prior to joining Pluck, Will served in a variety of software development leadership roles where he designed and managed the development of massively scalable, high-velocity software platforms at NetSpeed (now Cisco), the outsourced network management and security provider for more than 10,000 businesses; NetSpend, high availability provider of credit card transaction services for leading financial institutions; and Works.com (now Bank of America), the automated corporate purchasing solution for corporate treasury operations.

Ken Nicolson – Chief Marketing Officer
 
As Chief Marketing Officer, Ken leads market and product expansion for Pluck social media platforms to further serve the audience engagement and analytics needs of digital publishers and advertisers around the globe. Prior to joining Pluck, Ken served as president and CEO at Veridiem, a software firm that helped global brands plan, measure and optimize their return on marketing investments. Before joining Veridiem, Ken served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Alphablox Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based analytics applications. He has also served in executive marketing positions at Kiva Software, Red Brick Systems, Informix and IBM. Ken received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Duke University.

Rachel Brush – Vice President of Operations and Content Services
 
As vice president of Operations and Content Services, Rachel oversees finance, legal and human resource operations for Pluck in the U.S. and Europe. She also leads the editorial and account management teams for the BlogBurst™ syndication network, which serves content from more than 4,000 top bloggers to leading media sites around the world. Before joining Pluck, Rachel spent eight years in leadership roles at Hoover’s, Inc., where she held various senior management positions, including serving as vice president of Content and vice president of Customer Operations and Quality. Previously Rachel worked in retail operations for industry giants, including Ann Taylor, LensCrafters and The Limited. Rachel holds a BA in English from The University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing an MBA in Operations and Business Management at St. Edward’s University. Rachel is also an Advisory Board Member of The Periwinkle Foundation, which provides summer camps and other activities for children with cancer.

Eric Newman – General Manager
 
Eric has a history of delivering successful embedded solutions for leading Internet and software companies. Prior to joining Pluck, Eric ran product management for data integration provider Pervasive (PVSW). He previously served as vice president of marketing at Powered, a provider of embedded internet marketing solutions. He was also director of portal solutions at AskJeeves (ASKJ) and served in various management roles at Lotus/DataBeam and Convergys. Eric earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his undergraduate degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati.

Steve Semelsberger – Vice President, Sales & Business Development
 
Steve manages the team responsible for global revenue and partnerships. Prior to Pluck, he spent nearly six years with Motive (MOTV) in Director roles over Alliances, EMEA and Segment Marketing, helping the firm grow to ~$100M in revenue and complete an IPO in 2004. Previous experience in Steve’s 15-year career includes product management, marketing and sales positions with iChat, NetRatings and several media and services companies. He holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Spain’s IESE, along with a BS in management from Binghamton University.

Stephanie Himoff – Vice President of UK Sales and Business Development
 
As vice president of UK sales and business development, Stephanie will direct UK and European sales operations. Stephanie brings to Pluck over a decade of experience spearheading the growth of Internet businesses in Europe. Most recently she worked with US-based travel search site, SideStep, on its expansion in the UK. Previously Stephanie served in executive management positions for European operations at DirectoryM, a premier online advertising network used by top publishers, including Newsweek and ZDNet. Stephanie also served as Managing Director in the UK and France for AltaVista, a web search company now owned by Overture, a division of Yahoo. She holds an MBA and a BA from the University of San Francisco as well as a masters in French from IESEG.

Adam Weinroth – Director of Product Marketing
 
Leading product marketing for Pluck, Adam plays a central role in formulating the vision, definition and delivery of the company’s syndication and publisher software services including the groundbreaking BlogBurst syndication network and SiteLife Social Media Suite. Adam joined the company in 2005 when Pluck acquired Easyjournal, a community blog publishing platform which Adam founded and grew to more than 100,000 registered users. Prior to creating Easyjournal in 2002, Adam held leadership roles in new product development and technology marketing with Mediatruck and IntelliQuest. Adam has a BBA in Marketing and an MBA focusing on Technology Marketing Strategy from The University of Texas at Austin.

Pluck is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has received funding from Austin Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Reuters. Company was more known as rss software focused one when they started back in 2003.

More about Demand Media, Inc.

Demand Media™ is a leading social media company that provides an interactive, personalized and vertically-focused media experience for over 64 million unique users. By using its proprietary social media tools and the unique distribution platform of the world’s second largest domain registrar, the company connects content creators and audiences to grow its network of vertical media web properties. The privately held company was founded in May 2006 and is based in Santa Monica, CA, with offices in Bellevue, WA, Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA.

Demand Media was founded by former MySpace CEO Richard Rosenblatt. The company has been buying content sites and is rumored to be in preparations for a possible 2009 IPO, if and when the economy recovers. Their last round, $100M, was announced in September 2007. They’ve raised a total of more than $350M to date.

More

http://www.demandmedia.com/
http://www.pluck.com/
http://www.pluck.com/press/PluckPR-030408-Acquisition.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/04/demand-media-buys-pluck-for-50-million-to-60-million/
http://www.quantcast.com/pluck.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/pluck.com/?metric=uv
http://www.austinventures.com/
http://www.mayfield.com/
http://www.reuters.com/
http://riverace.statesmanblogs.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/pluck
http://www.demandmedia.com/demand-media-executives.asp
http://www.richard.tv/
http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSWEN431620080305

Digg is likely to make a nice exit soon

Digg, the user generated news site, has been pretty serious on getting itself sold for quite long time now. Just late last year they have hired Allen & Company to shop the site for what rumors claim to be anything in the $300 million range. There were literally millions of speculations around the blogosphere why Digg cannot sell so far, some of them summarized can be read over here.

Today we are reading they are about to finally make their long waited exit. Rumored bidders are, of course, Google and Microsoft, among a couple of media type of companies, no names quoted. This time however the price is being said to be way below the price tag of $300M Digg has put on its site last year – in the $200-$225 million range.

According to Quantcast, which we believe is very accurate, Digg.com is hugely popular site and is already reaching more than 25 million unique visitors per month. Just like a couple of months ago, here we again think Digg does worth more than $300M at the very current moment, with or without steady revenues, simply because of its popularity, leadership, reach and target audience. 25 Million unique visitors per month is almost a mainstream site and we have seen sites with less that traffic getting acquired in the 10 digit range.

Taking into consideration the fact that in case Microsoft does not buy the site they are likely to terminate the ad agreement they have with Digg, it seems that other bidders are not including the Microsoft revenues in Digg’s valuation.

More about Allen & Company

Investment bank Allen & Company has been involved in a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions in the past. Interesting for the Allen & Company is the privacy the investment firm seems to be working in as argument for which is the absence of even a basic site for the company on Web. Perhaps they don’t like publicity. Yet, we have found the firm’s contact details, which can be found among the other links on the end of the story’s page.

For Allen & Company, there’s no business like financing show business. The investment bank serves variously as investor, underwriter, and broker to some of the biggest names in entertainment, technology, and information. Viewed as something of a secret society, the firm has had a quiet hand in such hookups as Seagram (now part of Vivendi) and Universal Studios, Hasbro and Galoob Toys, and Disney and Capital Cities/ABC. The firm’s famous annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, attracts more moguls than a double-black ski run (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman have attended). Brothers Herbert and Charles Allen founded the company in 1922.

Key people and executives for Allen & Company LLC are as follows:

  • Non-Executive Chairman Donald R. (Don) Keough
  • President, CEO, and Director Herbert A. (Herb) Allen
  • Managing Director and CFO Kim M. Wieland

More

http://digg.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/07/google-microsoft-bidding-for-digg/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/19/digg-guys-are-up-for-sale-again-quietly/
http://www.quantcast.com/digg.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/17/for-sale-used-social-voting-site-asking-price-300-million-goes-by-the-name-of-digg/
http://www.hoovers.com/allen-&-company/–ID__51026–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/no-acquisition-for-digg-raise-series-b-round-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/07/just-sell-digg-already-jay/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-nobody-buys-diggcom.html
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/17/source-digg-hires-bank-hoping-to-sell-for-300-million-or-more/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2007/02/diggcom-fights-spam-scam-games.html
http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/latest-digg-payola-exposed.html
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/digg-close-to-a-300-million-sale-320145.php
http://valleywag.com/tech/sun-valley/whos-selling-whos-buying-at-the-allen-confab-276716.php
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/06/28/374371/index.htm

Taylor Nelson Sofres buys Compete.com

Compete, which started out in 2000 as an Idealab company, raised over $40M in funding to date, incurred $4.5M losses for the last year off $15M revenues and had hard time lately to compete with Quantcast has its exit day today. Compete has been acquired by the market research leader Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for $75M plus another earn-out $75M through out 2008-2010 if certain conditions are met. Total acquisition price could possibly reach $150M. Compete.com calls that brilliant in their blog, which might be true taking into consideration that they have clearly lost the battle with Quantcast in the free traffic measurement space online. According to Compete’s own stats, it attracts about the same number of U.S. visitors a month as Alexa (727,000 for Compete versus 758,000 for Alexa), but Quantcast is the leader with more than double that (1.9M uniques). The deal and its price tag could also be called brilliant for Compete when compared to the comScore’s current market capitalization – $570M.

Since 2006 Compete tried almost everything on the PR front to gain popularity, create buzz, and increase its service awareness, but it had little to no success at all. In many aspects Compete’s traffic measurement, just like Alexa btw, is way inaccurate and incomplete when compared to quantified sites at Quantcast and perhaps TNS decided to buy the third or forth in the market due to a possible higher price Quantcast is currently looking for (or being not for sale) and the current market value comScore has. Both of them have been M&A targets for a while although no public facts are available as to whether TNS has been one of the suitors for either of the companies mentioned. By comparison, in 2007 Experian Group Ltd. paid $240 million to acquire another leading Web intelligence company, Hitwise Pty Ltd., which made money and had annual revenues of roughly $40 million. In other words, at a price tag of $75 million TNS is offering roughly 5 times Compete’s revenue, and it will pay 10 times sales if the target reaches the financial milestones stipulated under the earn-out clause. Experian paid a multiple of only 6 times sales for Hitwise.

One of the company’s latest developments was the partnership they made with Ask.com to provide compete data for sites on ask.com’s binoculars.

TNS is acquiring Compete primarily from a consortium of private venture capital companies. Compete is said it will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, but it has already identified stellar new product opportunities to develop with the TNS media intelligence and custom research teams.   

In additional to Idealab, Compete’s other investors include Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Partners, North Hill Ventures, Split Rock Partners, and William Blair Capital Partners. Total funding to date is $43M. Their investors were undoubtedly probably hoping for a much better outcome, but a solid double is better than nothing.

This acquisition brings together the global market information strength of TNS with Compete’s digital intelligence products and capabilities.  Digital intelligence combines data on user behavior and interactions on the internet with demographic and competitive information, to help businesses and marketers make critical, strategic and tactical business decisions. 

Through this acquisition, TNS will provide clients with new and valuable insights into how online consumer behavior affects purchasing decisions, enabling clients to improve their marketing effectiveness, both online and offline. Together, TNS and Compete will provide consumer, brand and media research and measurement services that will help businesses succeed in the digital marketing environment.

Compete conducts continuous analysis of internet clickstream data from close to 2 million people, weighted to match the US online population.  This information is used to measure how consumers consider, engage with and buy a client’s products or services online, relative to those of its competition.  This ability to analyze online behavior before a purchase is made enables Compete to advise clients on how to target online communications to individual consumers, to influence both their online and offline purchasing behavior.

As internet usage and e-retailing increases, clickstream data is expected to become a significant information source around which market research and analysis is based.  Recent estimates suggest that the US market in which Compete operates will grow from $325 million in 2007 to $500 million in 2009.  (Morgan Stanley research and Jupiter Research estimates of on-demand US web analytics market)

TNS will apply Compete’s ability to profile, measure and segment the online behavior of consumers to its own 6th dimension access panels.  This will start in the US, where TNS has a fully managed access panel of more than one million people and will then be extended across its network.  This will give TNS an unmatched ability to provide insight based on online and offline behavior and on consumer attitudes. 

David Lowden, Chief Executive of TNS, said: “This acquisition is an important move for TNS that builds on our ability to help clients understand consumer behavior in the new and highly complex digital world.  Compete has built a world-class digital intelligence capability that delivers multiple perspectives on how consumers engage with brands online. Its strength lies in its ability to provide competitive analysis of individuals’ online behavior, a rapidly growing section of the market that has enormous potential. 

“TNS will enhance this offering by putting it together with the understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior that we gain from our access panels.  We will use our network to offer this powerful combination to clients across the globe.  In the longer term, we will look at the opportunities to add further value by using our Worldpanel, Retail & Shopper and audience measurement capabilities to integrate data on purchasing and viewing behavior with internet search and shopping behavior.  We believe this will allow TNS to develop new syndicated and custom products, unique in our industry.”

Donald McLagan, Chairman and CEO of Compete, said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to join one of the world’s most respected market information and insight groups.  Whether consumers buy online, or simply research online as they reach a purchasing decision, the marketing platforms they encounter bring major opportunities for brands.  Companies need to understand how the internet affects consumer preferences, attitudes, knowledge, understanding and motivation.  They also need help in maximizing the new online sales and marketing opportunities to target their prospective customers more effectively.  For the first time, we have given clients the opportunity to measure their effectiveness across all their marketing programmes.  This ability will be greatly enhanced when we are part of TNS.”

More about Compete

Compete, Inc. is a provider of analytics, research, and business intelligence. Compete gathers web behavior information from users who sign up at their site, then analyzes these data to create customized reports for client companies. Compete also offers a free web analytics tool for the general public at Compete.com.

Compete was founded in 2000 and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.  It analyses internet clickstream information received from its own panel and from internet service providers.  Compete uses proprietary data methodologies to normalize this data, making it representative of the entire US online market place. It specializes in the telecoms, media, automotive, financial services and travel industries, with a sector-based organization mirroring that of TNS.  It also has expertise in the field of online search evaluation.  Current management will remain with the company.  Clients, who include some of the world’s best-known brands, are engaged on a subscription basis, with analysis provided weekly or monthly.  The company has won a range of awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 two years in a row, the US Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award and the AdAge Power 150. Bill Gross is the company’s founder who had previously helped create the search engine that became Overture and later was acquired by Yahoo!.  

Compete has several competitors in enterprise-level web analytics and market research, including Nielsen/NetRatings, Hitwise, comScore, Amazon’s Alexa and Quantcast.

More about TNS

TNS is the third-largest market research firm across the globe (Honomichl)
TNS is the biggest provider of online market information in the world
TNS does more custom market research than any other firm worldwide
TNS Media Intelligence is the top-ranked ad spend measurement company
The TNS 6th Dimension access panels reach over two million consumers globally

The 1960s saw the creation of five of the market research companies that are at the heart of the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) group today:

  • Intersearch in the USA in1960
  • AGB in UK in 1962
  • Sofres in France in 1963
  • Frank Small Associates in Australia in 1964
  • Taylor Nelson in UK in 1965
  • But the very first seeds had been sown in the USA in 1946, when NFO (National Family Opinion) opened for business.

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, all these companies grew significantly, introducing a wide and increasingly sophisticated range of research solutions and using the latest technological developments. And as they and their clients grew, they started to create their international networks:

Sofres opened offices in six European countries, the US and 12 countries in Asia Pacific
 
Taylor Nelson and AGB each developed a UK network of offices and began to acquire businesses in Europe

NFO grew to become the by-word for managed access panels in the USA
It soon became clear that brands were becoming global, and brand owners would need global market information partners.

In the 1990s, the market research industry started to consolidate, as major clients demanded an increasingly international service.

NFO made a series of acquisitions around the world and the companies that now form TNS responded to the changing market by joining forces, enabling them to deliver consistently high quality services to customers around the world.

  • Sofres acquired Secodip (1992)
  • Taylor Nelson joined with AGB  (1992)
  • Sofres combined with FSA (1995)
  • Sofres acquired Intersearch (1997)
  • Taylor Nelson AGB and Sofres merged (1997)
  • TNS acquired NFO (2003)

More
 
http://www.tnsglobal.com/
http://www.tnsglobal.com/investor-relations/news/news-E4DA1FFE67594CB6A72742C5A415BD1B.aspx
http://blog.compete.com/2008/03/03/tns-acquires-compete/
http://www.compete.com/
http://www.competeinc.com/
http://blog.compete.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/03/tns-buys-compete-for-75-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/compete
http://www.quantcast.com/
http://www.alexa.com/
http://www.comscore.com/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.competeinc.com/news_events/pressReleases/114/
http://blog.compete.com/2008/02/11/press-release-compete-celebrates-fifth-straight-year-of-record-growth/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-compete-bought-by-tns-for-up-to-150-million/
http://www.centernetworks.com/tns-acquires-compete
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.centernetworks.com/ask-partners-with-compete-binoculars
http://www.techconfidential.com/money-out/blog/money-out/british-market-research-firm-t.php
http://blog.arhg.net/2008/03/competecom-bought-for-75m.html
http://mashable.com/2008/03/03/compete-acquired/
http://searchengineland.com/080303-105153.php

Snocap has been acquired by Imeem

Snocap was known to be searching for a new home for quite some time and it seems they have shopped themselves successfully as Imeem has bought them last month. Snocap is digital music wholesaler and Imeem is music streaming site so the synergy seems quite logical here. Terms were not disclosed publicly.

Snocap was founded in 2002 by Napster creator Shawn Fanning and Jordan MendelsonRon Conway is perhaps their angel investor. The company is known to have taken $10M million from Conway, Morgenthaler Ventures and WaldenVC. Just like Imeem’s deal with Universal Snocap has also signed a distribution deal with MySpace. In fact Imeem and Snocap have also partnered in the past where Imeem used Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

It seems Imeme was in desperate need from the Snocap’s technology while Snocap needed a new home, which surely helped the deal happen.
 
Snocap has gone through significant layoffs and was rapidly heading towards major failure. The company’s key person Shawn Fanning was also planning to leave the company and deal with his new creature Rupture.

More about Imeem

Imeem is an online community where artists, fans & friends can promote their content, share their tastes, and discover new blogs, photos, music and video. Here are some of the things you can do on imeem:

Discover
-Enjoy the latest videos, music, photos, or blogs posted on imeem.
-Stay up-to-date with your personal network of fans and friends with “What’s New” notifications.
-Get in-depth stats for all your content and track their popularity.

Interact
-Tag, comment, rate, and share any of your friends’ cool (or embarrassing) content.
-Create or join groups for your favorite band, event, topic, and more!
-Start discussions with other imeem users and make new friends.
 
Share
-Embed your media on other pages (such as your blog, Bebo, etc.).
-Recommend stuff to your friends or add it to your “Favorites” list.
-Easily add media to your Del.icio.us, WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad.

Imeem is hoping to make money from advertisers, a portion of which will be shared with its music partners. It has signed up Puma, Nike and Microsoft among others, though it does not disclose revenues.

This is Imeem’s second acquisition after they acquired Anywhere.FM in January. Imeem has raised two rounds of capital, although the size of the second round was not disclosed.

Imeem is based in San Francisco and takes its name from “meme” – a term coined to describe the ideas that communities, adopt, and express. Dalton Caldwell is the CEO of the company and the co-founded together with Jan Jannink. The company used to be in Palo Alto and is known to have launched in 2004. Known investors in the company are Morgenthaler (Series A founding) and Sequoia Capital, the venture capital fund that supported Google and YouTube.

It is interesting to know what Imeem’s total funding is considering the fact Snocap has raised $10M. Imeem’s first round was only for $750K. Imeem does not disclose revenues.

Some competitors and similar companies include Skreemr, Seeqpod, Deezer, Pandora, Lala, MOG, we7 and Wixi.

More

http://snocap.com/
http://Imeem.com
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/imeem
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/imeem-acquires-snocap/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/10/exclusive-imeem-inks-a-deal-with-the-worlds-largest-record-company/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/09/02/myspace-gets-into-music-biz/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/06/20/imeem-now-officially-legitimate/